From what we know now, it’s that the mystery surrounding the bullpen still hasn’t been solved. We’ve beat this dead horse multiple times, but when it comes down to it, the Milwaukee Brewers still haven’t figured out their biggest problem from this year. The destructive pieces may be gone, but do we have anything at all that can possibly fill the void? Maybe so. The Brewers have added pieces, but who knows exactly how they’ll fare. What we do know is how this bullpen can be arranged with who we have.
Let’s take a look at this.
John Axford will be the only pitcher in this bullpen with more than one year of experience with Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Closer: John Axford
Set-up man: TBD
Depending on who is in the rotation, Rogers or Thornburg may be that fifth man. That leaves us with five, possibly six, relievers, all of which will be heading into their first full year of Brewers baseball, except for Axford. With Doug Melvin acknowledging that the Brewers will not pursue a veteran arm, this puts not only pressure on the starting rotation, but the bullpen as well. Without knowing who is going to be in the rotation, Ron Roenicke is going to have some tough decisions to make.
There’s clearly no defined set-up man, and maybe that’s a good thing. Whenever bullpen roles, aside from the closer, are usually established, the bullpen has problem. Even with Roenicke announcing earlier this season that the closer role became a community job after Axford’s struggles, we all knew it still was the Ax-Man’s position to lose. Beyond the closer role is where it gets tricky. The Brewers did sign Chris Jakubauskas to a minor-league deal, so maybe sometime in 2013 if need be, we’ll see him in the bullpen as well.
Clearly the Brewers have some issues they need to straighten out. The starting rotation’s problems affect the bullpen’s problems and vice versa, so there’s an endless cycle unless the Brewers make a move. There are also guys like Stinson who have been in the minors long enough to show some sort of competency, but if we rush him up too fast, it’ll blow up in our faces. This uncertainty is something that may be ironed out by the time Spring Training comes around, but if the Brew Crew continues to stall on this problem, then who knows if we’ll see any real change from last year.