Zach Duke and the Free Agent LHP Options

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Beimel (38):

I confess with a little shame that before I started this endeavor, I had never heard of Joe Beimel, though prior to 2014, he hadn’t pitched in the Bigs in two full seasons. In 2014, Beimel put up a very strong 2.20 ERA, but a much higher 4.18 FIP implies he was very lucky, and as a result is in line for a large regression.

Beimel faced almost as many lefties as righties in 2014, implying the Mariners made an effort to use him in a lefty-heavy role. Beimel was outstanding against lefties in 2014, allowing just a .188/.217/.288 slash line. In my eyes, Beimel could represent the cheapest option as a lefty for the Brewers’ bullpen.

This also means Beimel has one of the higher chances to be ineffective for the team that picks him up, and his career OPS allowed against lefties is .706, which really isn’t that strong if he’s virtually useless against righties. The worry is that his season in 2014 is an anomaly, and he is certainly a risky signing.

EDIT: 3/6/15 Beimel has signed with the Texas Rangers for $1.5 million.

Neal Cotts (35):

If you’re fretting about the ages of these relievers, I promise the most recent three are the oldest guys on the list. Like Beimel, Neal Cotts spent an extended period of time out of the Bigs, not pitching at any level in the ’10 or ’11 seasons.

He played half a season for the Rangers’ AAA affiliate in 2012, then was promoted by the team the following season. In 2013, Cotts was outstanding, posting reverse splits, meaning he performed better against righties than lefties. Overall he posted a 1.11 ERA with similar PA’s against batters of both handedness(es).

The really bizarre thing is that over his entire career his splits are reverse, and this continued in 2014, when lefties hit him hard (.775 OPS). In my eyes, this really eliminates Cotts from contention for the Brewers’ position. His career numbers against lefties are not strong, which is what I feel the Crew could really use.

EDIT: The Brewers have signed Cotts to a one year, $3 million deal.

Craig Breslow (34):

Like Cotts, Craig Breslow followed up an outstanding year in 2013 (1.81 ERA) with a much worse one in 2014 (5.96 ERA). Breslow still owns a very good career ERA at 3.20, and is similarly good against lefties (.671 OPS) and righties (.680 OPS) over his career.

Breslow seems like another reliever that the Brewers could take a flyer on, though he seems more like a balanced reliever who happens to be a lefty than a lefty-specialist. Balance isn’t a bad thing, but the Crew has many good, balanced relievers. I’d much prefer a guy who can consistently shut down lefties.

EDIT: 1/7/15 Breslow has re-signed with the Red Sox for one year, $2 million

The follow-up piece on guys like Andrew Miller and Josh Outman can be found here.