The Milwaukee Brewers have officially announced the contract of Boone Logan. With Taylor Jungmann on his way to Japan, the Brewers bullpen picture is becoming clear.
Milwaukee Brewers fans have been an expecting an acquisition of a big time set up man after the loss of Anthony Swarzak in free agency. That acquisition has not come. Logan is a nice bullpen addition but he doesn’t figure to fit the role of the eighth inning guy.
From reports, it seems that GM David Stearns would be content to stick with the bullpen he currently has.
So if this is it for bullpen, what roles will each man fill in 2018? If the season started today, the bullpen roles probably look something like this.
Closer: Corey Knebel
This role has been clear from the start. Knebel took over for the trainwreck that was the Neftali Feliz experiment last May and has been fantastic ever since. Knebel earned 39 saves in his first year as a closer, and at only 26 years old, has a bright future ahead of him.
8th inning: Jacob Barnes
Barnes was given the eighth inning role in the early part of last season. He was inconsistent in 2017 and that led to him being moved out of the role. But with another offseason to work on getting better, Barnes figures to get another chance to set up for Knebel. He will need to drop his ERA from the 4.00 that he turned in last year. But Barnes makes the most sense in the role.
7th inning: Jeremy Jeffress
When Jeffress was reacquired last year, he was struggling as a member of the Texas Rangers. He got back into his old form for the most part. A full offseason as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers should bring him back to the dominance he showed in 2016. Jeffress should be given an opportunity to get back into high pressure situations but he’ll start in the seventh.
Left Handed Specialist: Boone Logan
This is exactly what Logan was signed for. He’ll come in to face lefty hitters late in games. The Brewers have lacked lefty pitching in recent years and Logan will be the guy to come in and face hitters like Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber. If he’s able to remain healthy, Logan will be quite the asset for the Crew.
Fireman: Josh Hader
Hader dominated in this role last year. When it’s a tough spot in the game and the Milwaukee Brewers need multiple innings, Hader is the go-to guy. He can dominate both lefties and righties. With a full offseason now in the big leagues, Hader will be able to settle into this role. He’ll fill a similar role to Andrew Miller of the Cleveland Indians.
Early Innings: Oliver Drake
Oliver Drake was acquired early in the 2017 season and never showed an ability to handle a late inning role. He’ll fill in for the sixth innings if necessary, He’ll likely be a part of the “B-list” portion of the bullpen that generally only pitches when the team is behind or the starter was unable to go past the fifth inning.
Long Reliever: Brent Suter or Yovani Gallardo
This battle will play out over Spring Training. As things stand, one of these two is going to win a rotation spot. Whoever loses out will likely start the season in the bullpen as the long reliever who can give a spot start when necessary. Gallardo has the pedigree as a starter and the potential to go deep into games. Suter rarely succeeds past the fifth inning but being left handed is something the Brewers could still use in their rotation.
Outside Candidates: JJ Hoover, Radhamez Liz, Tyler Webb, Wei Chung Wang, Mike Zagurski, Tim Dillard
There’s still room for other candidates to try to find their way into the bullpen. JJ Hoover just signed a minor league contract and could find himself pitching in the early innings. It’s something he’s done before with the Reds and D-Backs. Radhamez Liz was another minor league signing and is a very outside candidate.
Tyler Webb and Wei Chung Wang are also lefties that could earn a spot but they’ve been awful in the majors so far. Mike Zagurski hasn’t been dominant in the past but could find a spot at some point. And hopefully Tim Dillard can find his way back onto the Brewers roster. He would be a fan favorite upon his return.
Spring Training will likely have some effect on these roles and change them. But the closer position and left handed specialist is pretty locked in. Jeffress and Barnes will compete for the eighth inning role. It should not surprise anyone to see the Milwaukee Brewers make another bullpen acquisition either before the season starts, or during the July trade deadline.