The once impenetrable force that was the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen has shown some signs of cracking lately. Should there a focus on adding a reliever at the Trade Deadline?
This was not originally thought to be a big need for the Milwaukee Brewers. Their bullpen was one of the best in baseball with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Albers, and Corey Knebel at the heart of the group. But Albers has been hurt and Knebel has struggled, so they might need some help.
The Brewers bullpen has a 3.33 ERA at the All Star Break, which is sixth-best in the big leagues. They were a comfortable top-three for much of the first half but has now fallen behind other clubs. The drop in production may not be that bad, but it just feels that way since us Brewers fans are used to the high level of production they put out.
The five teams that currently have a better bullpen ERA are the Yankees, Astros, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Red Sox. All five of those teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. In order to win the World Series, which is the end goal, the Brewers are going to have to go through some of those clubs.
With the newfound emphasis on bullpens in the game of baseball, and a stunning lack of quality starting pitchers on the trade market, the prices for acquiring relievers is going to be high this July.
Brewers GM David Stearns loves controllable assets. But bullpen arms are going to be extremely pricey at the deadline and Stearns may have to settle for veteran rental pitchers if he’s looking to make an upgrade.
We know Stearns has been talking with the Orioles about shortstop Manny Machado, so perhaps he’s also brought up relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach as potential players to include as well. Padres reliever Kirby Yates has received a lot of trade interest on the market as well.
Is Bullpen help a need?
Despite some recent hiccups, adding a bullpen arm isn’t really a need for this club. A lot of the arms on the market that will be available for cheap aren’t performing that well this season, and wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over what the Brewers currently have. The bulk of the group has performed well.
With a bigger priority in the middle infield and the starting rotation, David Stearns isn’t likely to spend too much time worrying about a bullpen that’s still a top-ten group right now. They have several late inning weapons and have enough arms stashed on the 40 man roster to find the right combination moving forward.
There’s about two weeks until the Trade Deadline, still. So the Milwaukee Brewers still have some time to figure out where their biggest priorities are. But the bullpen should still be the least important need of them all. We will find out Stearns’ intentions soon.