In case Milwaukee being on its second manager since April, the team’s general manager resigning (or “transitioning to a new role”), a trade that sent the face of the franchise to Houston for a batch of promising prospects, and the atrocious record isn’t enough of an indication, the Brewers aren’t exactly having the best year. Though the season has pretty much been over since before the All-Star break, they still need to play all the games. It’s, like, a rule or something, and lord knows those breast cancer awareness pink Hulk drinking fists and Hank The Dog t-shirt jerseys won’t sell themselves. While it’s been an all-around bleak year to be a Brewers fans, the last full month of the season in all its utter meaninglessness can be exciting for fans, but for slightly different reasons.
As other teams are vying for division titles and clinging to wild card hope, Milwaukee gets an extended no-pressure look at young talents who might one day pull the rudderless organization from the quicksand of mediocrity. With nothing of significance on the line, Taylor Jungmann has blossomed into a future ace. Meanwhile, Jimmy Nelson developed a second pitch, and 23-year-old outfielder Domingo Santana—the centerpiece of the return for Carlos Gomez—has clubbed three home runs in his first 10 games as a Brewer. Last night, Zach Davies (whom Milwaukee received after trading Gerardo Parra to Baltimore in July) made his Major League debut, striking out three batters in four and a third so-so frames of work.
Each September, every team’s roster can expand to have as many as 40 players on it, usually to allow postseason-bound teams to rest veterans and to give teams in the running some extra pieces to use in the playoff pushes. Due to the low-risk opportunity to face big league bats and, more so, needing to be on the MLB roster by September 1 to avoid being suspect to the Rule 5 Draft this winter, Davies’ call-up makes sense. Beyond him, Milwaukee doesn’t look likely to promote many (or possibly any) more minor leaguers to the parent club because, to be frank, there’s nothing on the line. However, the fact that there’s nothing on the line is the very reason the Brewers should make one more promotion. The Brewers need to call up Tim Dillard.
Drafted by Milwaukee in the 34th round way back in 2002, the right-handed hurler has spent the entirety of his professional career in the Brewers organization. In 2008, he made his big league debut, managing a 4.40 ERA in 13 appearances. After two dreadful games with the Crew in 2009, Dillard stayed with the triple-A Nashville Sounds until returning to Milwaukee in 2011 with a new sidearm delivery that brought modest returns in a combined 58 games in 2011 and 2012. After those two seasons with ERAs in the fours, he was busted back down to Nashville (and even sunk as far as double-A Huntsville last season). This year, Dillard, 32, is a veteran presence in the bullpen of the Brewers’ new triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox and, with a 5.50 ERA in 27 outings, looks to be only be venturing further from the possibility of ever returning to a big league bullpen. So why should the Brewers waste a highly-sought roster spot on a 32-year-old right-handed control pitcher with a career 4.70 ERA who hasn’t pitched in the show since President Obama’s first term? Simple: He’s really weird.
Known for his more-than-passable Harry Caray impersonation…or at least Harry Caray being impersonated by Will Ferrell, and his penchant for quoting slightly-outdated movies, you’d never know Dillard was in the midst of his worst season. Even though he’s struggling as part of a last place minor league club, the 4,000 people wise enough to follow the pitcher on Twitter have seen him reenact memorable scenes from Talladega Nights
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby pic.twitter.com/g8r35G5SkZ
— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) August 30, 2015
…and Saved By The Bell
…and Jurassic Park
— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) August 28, 2015
Or do musical tributes of songs by Metallica
…and Spice Girls
— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) August 27, 2015
…and Pharrell Williams
Or pine for the days of “Oregon Trail”
— Tim Dillard (@DimTillard) August 10, 2015
In all, Tim Dillard has an aura about him that suggests he knows he might never pitch in Major League Baseball again, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. He’ll just keep going on as the funny uncle of Brewers minor league baseball and keep cashing those checks he gets for playing a game until his contact is up in 2020. When games become meaningless, baseball becomes a true pastime. At its heart, baseball should be about having fun and entertaining people. The next 30 games don’t matter, so the Brewers should do the unthinkable and just let its funniest and weirdest employee do his thing in front of a wider audience. They don’t even have to let him pitch. Just make sure the Wi-Fi connection in the locker room is good.