How will Michael Blazek (pictured) fare in 2014? Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
In the first part, I discussed the top part of the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen for 2014. Here in the second and final part, I’ll talk about crafting the rest of the bullpen for this upcoming season as the Brewers will transition into their second year of a fairly new bullpen.
This may be the biggest part that changes overtime as Blazek didn’t get a whole lot of appearances last season to really prove himself. However, in Spring Training, Blazek will be able to expand upon his role as a middle reliever in Milwaukee. As for Wooten and Figaro, they were able to construct that sort of experience longer last year and were fairly successful at that. Wooten in particular did well, especially since he made his debut in late July and will hopefully be able to show some more consistency this season.
Gorzelanny will see time out of the bullpen as manager Ron Roenicke‘s number one left-hander. While they would probably never consider Gorzelanny for the one-out specialist role, aka a LOOGY, he’s still someone who will be brought in for match-ups along the way. If push comes to shove, Gorzelanny could also take over Brandon Kintzler‘s old role and maybe pitch an inning or two of relief if a starter gets hit hard.
The thing with all three of these pitchers is that they’re also candidates for the fifth spot in the starting rotation should Tyler Thornburg falter at all. That said, if Thornburg stays consistent then we’ll more than likely see these three transition to a bullpen or spot starter role. Nelson probably poses the best bet to be a starter on down the road should he get the chance which is why I think the Brewers will probably give him the ball if a starter has to miss a game.
One important job these guys will face deals with mopping up messes and giving a rest to the starters and the middle relievers. If they can go two or three innings, that eats up time for other relievers to get warm so Roenicke doesn’t have to burn through the bullpen. That said, I don’t know that Nelson or Hellweg will be in Milwaukee come Opening Day, but throughout the course of the season they’ll find their way on this 25-man roster one way or another. Smith definitely has found a spot as he can complement Gorzelanny as the other left-hander in the pitching staff.
That’s what I think will happen with the bullpen this year. It may not be perfect and who knows what will happen from here until then, but as of now, this is how I see it going for the Brew Crew. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!