The Brewers have used the final month of the season as an opportunity to evaluate several of their young players, and on Saturday they will see one more.
Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers' top prospect according to MLB.com, will make his first big league start and try to help Milwaukee take the first three of a four-game set against the Mets at Citi Field. Nelson was a September callup and has pitched five scoreless innings out of the bullpen in three relief appearances this month.
But is that different than his starting role on Saturday?
"Not really," Nelson said. "I never really had any jitters or nervousness, even in my debut. I feel like if you do have jitters or nervousness, that fizzled out in the first inning or two. … I feel like this start won't be any different. I'll be excited to be out there, a little anxious, and I'll settle in and start pitching my game."
Nelson's last time out was a two-inning appearance against the Cubs on Sept. 18, leaving nine days between appearances. On Thursday, the 24-year-old righty discussed how deep into his first start he might go, according to what he told Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
"I didn't give him an exact number, I just told him to let me go until I physically can't," said Nelson, who went 5-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Nashville this year. "It's the last start of the season. I've gone over 100 pitches several times in the Minor Leagues this season, and generally I start to feel better as the game goes on. I told him pitch count isn't really an issue for me, but he's not going to push it. They're smart. Whatever they let me go, I'll be happy with. Of course, I'll probably fight it a little bit, but that's their decision."
Roenicke is not about to let his young phenom go the distance.
"Well, he wants to go full gorilla," Roenicke said with a smile. "I said, 'Ah, I'm not going to do that.' But if the innings aren't too stressed out early, he should be able to go a ways. It's got to be under control and there's got to be thinking going on, but I like the guys that are aggressive."
While Nelson vies for his first Major League win, New York's Aaron Harang will try for his first win with the Mets and 111th to end his 12th big league season. Harang, who was signed by the Mets in early September, is coming off a strong outing against the Reds on Monday, in which he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings -- even though he walked six. The veteran right-hander has a 4.24 ERA in three starts with the Mets and is 0-1.
In early September, Harang was designated for assignment and then released by the Mariners, where he went 5-11 with a 5.76 ERA in 22 starts.
Brewers: Segura may return Saturday
All-Star shortstop Jean Segura has sat out nine straight games with a strained left hamstring, but Roenicke said he might return to the starting lineup on Saturday against the Mets.
"I think he will," Roenicke said prior to Friday's 4-2 Brewers' win. "I think he'll be available today, and then we'll see if we can get him out there [Saturday]."
Segura, who injured his hamstring on Sept. 18 against the Cubs, did not come off Roenicke's bench on Friday, but he did have encouraging results in running drills at Citi Field.
Segura is hitting .296 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs, and is tied with the Mets' Eric Young Jr. for the National League lead with 44 stolen bases. Young stole two bases on Thursday to tie Segura.
• Nelson said he has not contemplated how far he has come this season, beginning at Double-A Huntsville before stints with Nashville and the Brewers.
"No," Nelson said, "because it's not over. That's something you do in the offseason -- reflect back on good and bad and what you have to work on."
Mets: Wright out Friday with jammed thumb
David Wright did not play in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Brewers after getting hit in the head on Thursday and jamming his right thumb while falling to the ground.
Wright was hit on the side of the helmet in the third inning by an 86-mph Johnny Hellweg changeup, but the injury forcing him out of Friday's game came when he fell to the ground. Wright passed all of his concussion tests, but the swelling in his thumb had not gone down, making it hard for him to swing a bat.
Mets manager Terry Collins was cautious with his third baseman.
"He doesn't have a concussion. He doesn't have headaches," Collins said. "As I told him out on the field after he did his running program to find out if he was going to get a headache, I said, before he started running, 'I don't care if you can count the number of stones that are on the warning track from first base. If you can't swing the bat, it's not a good idea to play.'"
• Harang is 6-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 23 career appearances against the Brewers.
• The Brewers lead the season series 3-2 entering Saturday.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.