Milwaukee Brewers: What is Brent Suter’s role in 2018?

Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Brent Suter was probably better than you remember in 2017. He worked as a starter and a reliever equally well in 2017. Has he earned a full-time job in the rotation, or should he go back to the bullpen for the 2018 season?

Brent Suter made 14 starts and eight relief appearances in 2017. As a starter, he managed a 3.45 ERA in 70 1/3 innings of work. He also struck out 54 and walked only 16. As a reliever, Suter posted a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. He fanned 10 and walked six. Which role do the Milwaukee Brewers need him to fill in 2018?

Suter as a starter

If the Milwaukee Brewers elected to go with Suter as a fifth starter, they wouldn’t have to sign a free agent. Pitching, especially starting pitching, is costly in free agency.

Suter was good in a starting role in 2017, and he’s a perfectly acceptable fifth starter. He averaged about five innings per start, posted a 6.91 K/9, and limited his BB/9 to 2.05. He also provides the Milwaukee Brewers with a left-handed option in the rotation that they presently lack.

Suter as a reliever

Suter didn’t inspire nearly as much confidence coming out of the bullpen. He’s not great against right-handers, and posted a .326 wOBA against righties last year. Suter also surrendered seven out of his eight homers allowed to right-handers. He lacks the overpowering stuff to work high-leverage innings, and he only profiles as a LOOGY if he works out of the bullpen.

Based on the results, Suter is best suited for a role in the rotation. He wasn’t nearly as reliable working out of the bullpen as he was in the starting five. The problem is that there may not be a starting role available to Suter.

Which role is better for Suter in 2018?

There are three starters penciled into the rotation before the off-season really starts. Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, and Chase Anderson are the to three starters right now. The Milwaukee Brewers are going to shop for starting pitching. Whether they sign a free agent or look for a trade partner, that’s at least one more starting spot filled. Suter would have to fight for a role as a fifth starter during Spring Training, and that’s far from a guarantee of a spot. Suter may end up as the odd man out, and either head to Colorado Springs to start, or work out of the bullpen.

Brent Suter made several huge starts down the stretch for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he’s not assured of a starting role at this point. That could change if the off-season doesn’t go as planned, but he appears to be headed back to the bullpen or fighting for the fifth starter’s job.