Nelson determined to improve after tough '16

Brewers righty unhappy with his overall performance, will 'trust in our work'

Nelson determined to improve after tough '16

ARLINGTON -- With the Brewers' team bus idling outside, there was not enough time, Jimmy Nelson said, to dissect everything that went wrong in what was supposed to be his step-forward season. Here's the gist: Nelson wasn't happy.

The 27-year-old made his final start of 2016 in a 6-4 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday. He surrendered five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and fell to 8-16 with a 4.62 ERA in 32 starts, with 140 strikeouts and 86 walks in 179 1/3 innings. Over his final 21 starts, he was 3-13 with a 5.79 ERA.

Nelson's 10.7 percent walk rate is seventh-worst in the Major Leagues among pitchers who logged at least 100 innings. His 1.52 walks plus hits per inning pitched is in the bottom 15.

"I'm not happy with this entire season," Nelson said. "It's extremely frustrating. I put in the work on and off the field, in-season and out of season. The only thing I can do is trust that it will turn. I know that [pitching coach Derek Johnson] and I are doing the right things. I trust in our work. I just have to trust that it will turn, you know?

"The one thing that makes it a tougher pill to swallow is all the work, all the hours I put into it. But if it was easy, everybody would do it, I guess."

Tuesday was a microcosm of his season. The five earned runs were attributable to two pitches to former teammates, both two-seam fastballs in but not quite far enough in, and "maybe a tick up," Nelson said. Carlos Gomez put a good swing on the first for a Statcast-projected 444-foot, 110-mph-off-the-bat, three-run home run to the second deck at Globe Life Park for a 3-3 tie in the third. Jonathan Lucroy hit a similar pitch in the sixth for a two-run double down the third-base line and a 5-4 Rangers lead.

Three of the five runners who scored on Nelson's watch reached base on a walk.

"It was similar to a lot of his nights, really. The walks got him in trouble," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That number needs to go down, because you can pitch well, but [with walks] you're limiting your room for error. That pitch to Gomez doesn't hurt him without the walks."

It was that type of season for Nelson.

"It's a frustrating game sometimes," he said. "I'm going to keep doing my work. I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to get down on myself, get frustrated, get angry with myself. I'm not going to give up or quit or change anything I do as far as working out. …

"[Health] is my first goal, but obviously, I have to get better overall."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.