With Zach Duke, Will Smith and Tom Gorzelanny, the Milwaukee Brewers had plenty of left handed options last season. This year however, only Smith remains from that strong group. The Brewers have instead turned to Neal Cotts, as another left handed arm. But considering the struggles Cotts has had this spring and last season, they may need to look outside the organization for another option before season ends.
Recently, Mark Bowman tweeted that the Atlanta Braves released lefty reliever James Russell. While the 29-year-old has struggled this spring and has battled bouts of wildness, the Brewers should consider signing him to a minor league deal.
Over the course of his five year career, the Brewers have seen plenty of Russell. Throughout his career he appeared in 20 games against the Brewers, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA. While pitchers Cotts is a pitcher who has struggled against lefties in his career, Russell has held opposing left handers to a .241 batting average.
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Coming off of season with a career best 2.97 ERA, it is shocking that Russell has been put in this position so late into camp, but his spring troubles were to much for the Braves to keep him on the roster. This spring Russell had three appearances, allowing nine runs and while seeing his ERA rise to 10.57. Another troubling statistic has been his command. Through 7.2 innings of work, he has walked three batters (an average of 3.5 per nine innings of work).
Were the Brewers able to sign him to a minor league deal, Russell would become a fantastic option in the future. While the Brewers have plenty of options to use in the bullpen on the current roster, you can never have to many lefty arm. With question marks surrounding Cotts heading into the season, Russell would be an arm that could become a great bullpen option very soon.