As previously reported, J.J. Hardy returns to the team following a 20-day stint in the minors that will cost him a year of service time. The struggling shortstop didn't fare much better in Nashville than he did in Milwaukee, hitting .254/.284/.451 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI in 18 games.
The only other current call-up is Chris Smith, who put up a 3.62 ERA in 23 appearances with the Brewers earlier this year. Smith was used primarily as the mop-up guy in his first go-around, often pitching multiple innings in blowouts. We can probably assume he'll take on a similar role now that he's back.
Tom Haudricourt has the story, and notes that more call-ups are likely once Triple A Nashville finishes their season. They're currently in the middle of a playoff chase with the Memphis Redbirds, and need key players like Mat Gamel and Angel Salome to play out the rest of the season.
In the mean time, it'll be interesting to see just how often Hardy plays this September. He's made it known he's unhappy with the underlying reasons for his demotion (aside from poor play), but the Brewers really don't have anything to gain from playing Hardy every day at shortstop. We'll have a better idea of where the Brewers stand after this series against the Cardinals, but if they fall any further out of the race, Alcides Escobar needs to be playing every day. You could probably even make the argument that Escobar gives the Brewers a better chance to win than Hardy to begin with, so there's really no excuse for Ken Macha to sit him. The same should be true for Gamel once he returns.
If I had to guess, Hardy will get a couple starts a week in an attempt to drive up his trade value. If he has a solid month (coupled with the extra year of service), the Brewers could potentially get a better deal for him in the offseason. If he struggles, you quietly sit him more often and say you want to see what you have with Escobar before making a decision on Hardy's future this winter.
The Brewers start that crucial series with the Cards tonight, and need to sweep the series -- and likely the rest of their games against St. Louis this year -- in order to stay alive in the playoff race.