Milwaukee Brewers: Is their bullpen starting to burn out?

Matthew Dewoskin
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 30: Mike Zagurski #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after being removed from the game in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 12-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 30: Mike Zagurski #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after being removed from the game in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 12-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Brewers have turned to Mike Zagurski and Aaron Wilkerson to give their relief corps a rest. Both have met with disastrous results, but a larger question remains. Is the Brewers bullpen starting to burn out?

The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen has worked 294 1/3 innings in 82 games this year. That’s good for 11th in the league. However, they do average 4.06 pitches per plate appearance. Their PPA is the fourth highest in the league.

The Brewers bullpen is key reason why their still 1/2 game up on the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central. Is the current group burning out? Should they look to add arms to their relief corps in July?

Which relievers had trouble in July?

Well, Boone Logan got released, Matt Albers hit the DL, and Dan Jennings has struggled.

Logan had a hard time in his first six appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers, and received his walking papers. Albers was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation after getting pounded for five earned  runs.

Jennings tossed 13 innings in 12 games in June, and gave up runs seven times. Jennings posted a 6.23 ERA with a 2.00 WHIP. He managed to strike out 11, but walked seven and was tagged for 19 hits.

If Jennings is burning out, it’s not showing up on the radar gun. Jennings averaged 91.02 MPH on his fastball in April, but he’s averaged 92.45 MPH on his heater in June. He did post a .391 BABIP against in June. He owns a .303 mark for his career, and a .328 mark for 2018. Jennings’ issues look more like a statistical variance than an actual problem.

So, everyone else is fine?

Pretty much, yes? Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress have worked a ton of games, but they’re not showing signs of burn out yet.

Several Milwaukee Brewers relievers had sub-2.00 and sub-1.00 ERAs. They’re probably not going to end the season with an ERA that low.

The real issue here is the starting staff. Brewers starters average about 5 1/3 innings of work per start. that means that their bullpen has to work 3 2/3 innings every night on average. Those appearances, innings, and pitches add up over the course of a baseball season, and even the best relievers wear down.

The Milwaukee Brewers don’t need to add to their bullpen in July. They have five solid relievers they can go with, along with several capable options including Jennings, Taylor Williams, and Adrian Houser. They’ll also get a boost when Albers returns from the DL. The bullpen really isn’t a concern.

Next: What do the Brewers need before the trade deadline?

The starting rotation needs to find a way to work deeper into games and take the pressure off the bullpen. If that means looking outside the organization to find help, the Brewers need to do it. The team has proven over the last year and half that they’re capable of competing for a playoff spot. It’s time to add to their rotation and make a real push for October baseball.

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