Christian Bergman earned the chance to pitch in the Major Leagues in Mark Wiley's mind.
Wiley, the Rockies' director of pitching operations, has a lot of say in deciding which pitchers are ready for the Major Leagues. In just two starts for the Rockies, Bergman is proving why Wiley had faith in him.
"The one thing that stood out more than anything was he was our No. 1 strike-thrower in the Minor Leagues," Wiley said. "He throws a high percentage of strikes, always has. He's been his league's pitcher of the year a couple of times, and when you do that, you're a strike-thrower and you have some of the elements that he has, those make you a prospect at the big league level."
In those first two Major League starts, Bergman has an ERA of 3.75. He's gone six innings in both his outings and has tallied seven strikeouts and two walks. He'll go for his first Major League win against the Brewers on Friday, after his first start resulted in a 1-0 loss to the Braves, and his second ended with Bergman receiving no-decision in a 5-4 win over the Giants.
Bergman will try to right the Rockies, after the team suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, with Clayton Kershaw throwing a no-hitter against them in Wednesday night's finale. To beat the Brewers, Bergman will try to continue to use that big league command that helped get him to the Majors.
"As you get toward the big leagues and Triple-A, you're going to have to be able to move the ball to the other side," Wiley said. "The hitters understand that you're one-sided, they understand that you're getting into patterns. As you move up, you've got to improve. That's what he's done."
He'll be taking on a struggling veteran in Marco Estrada for the Brewers, who finished their series with the D-backs on Thursday, winning three of four against Arizona. Estrada has allowed a Major League-high 23 home runs this season and has allowed at least one long ball in 12 of his 13 starts this season. He has allowed four runs or more in his past three starts.
Although Estrada could be pitching for his job with top Brewers' prospect Jimmy Nelson pitching so well at Triple-A Nashville, he approached a between-starts bullpen session on Tuesday like business as usual.
He threw all fastballs and changeups, the latter a key pitch for Estrada that has not been as sharp this season as last year.
"I just have to keep going," Estrada said. "My confidence is always there, that's not something that's going to go away because of a bad month. Mechanically, it's a little thing. It really is. It's going from keeping pitches here [just above the knees] to here [right at the knees]. It's that small of a difference. I felt like it was much better the last two games, even though I've given up the most runs that I have the entire month. The last two games, my location is much better."
He was encouraged by zero walks in his last start. He blamed his poor first inning on feeling "too good" during warmups.
"I was way too amped up when I took the mound," said Estrada, who reiterated that his troubles have been related to, "little things."
"Now I need to forget about those things and go back out there," he said. "Home runs are what they are. I've always given up home runs, just not this many. It's a little command issue. No one is perfect the entire year."
He said after his last start that he has been dealing with an undisclosed off-field issue, but declined this week to expound.
"The best way to get people back on your side is to pitch well," Estrada said.
Rockies: Chatwood, Anderson making progress
Both Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday, as the duo continues to move towards returning from injuries.
Chatwood, a right-handed pitcher who suffered a right flexor strain, and Anderson, a left-hander who's been out with a broken left index finger, are making strides on the same rehab schedule.
They both threw 47-pitches on Wednesday and used all of their pitches. They are scheduled to throw another bullpen session Saturday or Sunday before throwing a live batting practice two days later.
Brewers: Struggling Braun set for game No. 1,000
Ryan Braun sat on Thursday as he continued to battle a hitting slump, but his next game will be No. 1,000 in his career, which has been spent entirely in Milwaukee. He'll be the 12th Brewer to reach that milestone and the 18th current player to have at least 1,000 games with his current club. Teammate Rickie Weeks is on both lists.
"It sounds like a big number, yeah," said Braun, who debuted with the Brewers in 2007. "I've always said, anything like that you try not to focus on too much during the season. I think the focus is just on preparation, competing and helping us win games. All those types of things you kind of look back on in the offseason. But that does sound like a big number. It goes by really quick."
Braun will hit the milestone in the midst of a hitting slump that has sent his batting average from .311 on June 8 to .279 currently.
"It's just from at-bat to at-bat, we need to get him back and being that consistent guy who gives you the three good at-bats a game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday.
• The Rockies were swept for the third time this season on Wednesday. The other two sweeps, from May 30-June 5, were a part of an eight-game losing streak.
• The series in Colorado will wrap up a stretch where the Brewers played 15 of 18 games on the road. Milwaukee is 9-6 so far in this stretch.
• Carlos Gomez has reached base in 32 straight games, the current Major League high. By reaching base Thursday, he tied Robin Yount for the sixth-best streak in Brewers history
Mike Vernon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.