The bullpen in Milwaukee has been a rather significant issue, good or bad, in the past few years, but there’s one role in particular that seems to be a revolving door. Going forward, maybe the Brewers will have the role nailed down, but as of now, this role still seems up in the air.
Prediction number two is: there will be a new closer by the end of 2014.
When I say that there will be a new closer, it doesn’t mean that Jim Henderson is going to lose his job by struggling. Henderson could very well be traded if the team tries out Brandon Kintzler in the role. The market for closers is high right now and may continue to be so if those needs aren’t met. Who better to trade than a guy who has done nothing but succeed so far?
If Henderson does stay, it will be up until the last few days before the trade deadline. Much like with Francisco Rodriguez, I feel the Brewers will want to try and expose Henderson’s value to the other 29 teams in the majors to see what kind of response they can expect. Should there be a positive one at the right price, then I think the Brew Crew and Henderson would part ways.
Of course, this would be dependent on how Kintzler would do as the closer. He has a career four blown saves, all coming in the past year, but still managed an ERA of 3.55 in 33 save appearances (33 innings). Perhaps more exposure to this role would help him become more solid as a closer in Milwaukee.
Currently, Kintzler transitioned from the workhorse in the bullpen to the eighth inning guy. As a set-up man and one of manager Ron Roenicke‘s most trusted relievers, Kintzler flourished in 2013, posting a 2.69 ERA in 71 appearances (77 innings). He also had a K/9 of 6.8 and had 27 holds on the year.
It wouldn’t hurt to try Kintzler out in some save situations in Spring Training to see how he fares. If by then the team feels he could take over the role at any point, Henderson would still be getting saves to boost his trade value before the team dealt him. With K-Rod, the exact same situation happened so I could see the Brewers doing it again.
Even if Kintzler isn’t the candidate for the role, I still think the Brewers will part ways with Henderson. The market for closers is valuable right now, so the Brewers could definitely get a nice haul in return and I think that’s something they would have to take advantage of while the timing is right.