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

Matthew Dewoskin
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 23: Brent Suter
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 23: Brent Suter /
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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.

Next: Is Freddy Galvis a fit for the Brewers?

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.

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