MILWAUKEE -- The busy Brewers on Wednesday made their first roster move to address an underperforming pitching staff, optioning reliever Tyler Thornburg to Triple-A Colorado Springs -- where he will join the starting rotation -- and recalling Rob Wooten to take his place.
Thornburg, an April standout a year ago before an elbow injury ended his season, saw his ERA after six appearances balloon to 5.59 after he surrendered five runs (four earned) on a walk and four hits, including a pair of home runs, against the Reds on Tuesday. In 9 2/3 innings, Thornburg surrendered 13 runs, though only six were earned because of errors behind him.
Opponents are batting .356 against Thornburg in a dramatic departure from last April, when he held hitters to a .122 average and retired 21 batters in a row over one seven-game stretch. He developed a sore elbow in May and wound up missing the second half of the season, though Thornburg avoided Tommy John surgery.
"He's been a little off," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We know how good he was last year before he got hurt. We're trying to get him back to that point."
The Brewers believe regular work as a starting pitcher could help, even if some of it comes in the thin air of Colorado Springs.
Wooten made 40 appearances for Milwaukee with a 4.72 ERA last season, and he was one of the last cuts this year in Spring Training. He was one of a number of relievers struggling in the thin air of Colorado Springs, allowing five earned runs on eight hits in his first 6 1/3 innings. He was excited to move back to low altitude.
"It is Coors Field on steroids," Wooten said of Colorado Springs, the Brewers' new Triple-A home. "It is terrible. You can't let a ballpark beat you, and in one game it did beat me. I started pitching away from contact because everything hit was going out. I was trying to do more than what I did. Once I got past that, the next time I went out there and went boom, boom, boom. If you do what you are supposed to and not let it get hit in the air, it is not going to go out."
The Brewers entered Wednesday's game against the Reds with the worst record (2-12) and staff ERA (5.31) in the Major Leagues. Milwaukee's relievers were 20th of 30 teams with a 3.89 ERA.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.