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With just a few dozen hours until Opening Day, we’re going to cover the most expensive member and likely setup man for the Brewers bullpen, Jonathan Broxton.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Dodgers, Broxton cruised to the Bigs by the end of 2005, making him the fifth youngest player in the Majors that year at 21. After a few years as a premium reliever, Broxton earned the job as the Dodgers closer.
Broxton was uncharacteristically ineffective in 2010 (4.04 ERA), and followed it up with an oft-injured 2011, so the Dodgers let Broxton test free agency. He signed a one-year deal with the 2012 Royals, where he dominated for the first half of the season and was subsequently shipped to the NL Central leading Reds at the trade deadline.
After continuing his strong season with the Reds, the team locked him down to a multi-year deal, the end of which the Brewers now have responsibility for via trade, including a $9 million mutual option for 2016.
From an ERA standpoint, Broxton has been remarkably consistent over his career. His ERA from ’05-’10 was 3.11, while from ’11-’14 it was 2.98. His FIP tells a more worrying story however, and over those time periods his numbers are a dissimilar 2.62 and 3.68, respectively.
This points to a potential for problems on the horizon, similarly highlighted by his plummeting fastball velocity:
And those kids said math wouldn’t help me irl.
Though 2011 should be taken with a grain of salt as Broxton threw just 12 2/3 innings, the trend is pretty clear. He has therefore had to change his game, and he has trimmed his walk rates over time, but not nearly as sharply as his strikeout numbers.
Broxton was pretty good last season, though his 3.37 FIP is much less flashy than his 2.30 ERA. And quite honestly, his four-seam has been very good over time, nearly as good as his slider in terms of success. That lends itself to more risk though, if/when his fastball becomes slow enough to hit.
G 60 IP 58 ERA 3.83 FIP 3.88 WHIP 1.224 H/9 7.8 HR/9 0.7 GB% 46.6% BB/9 3.2 K/9 7.2 K/BB 2.25
I think Broxton is below-average this year, and I think there will be a strong case for Will Smith to replace him as the setup man, though the former’s salary looms large. Of all the relievers I have reviewed or will, Broxton is the most likely to get traded at the deadline, so it would be increasingly beneficial if he could stave of aging for at least a few more months.