1. Teddy Higuera
Years as a Brewer: 1985-1994
Teddy Higuera is the unquestioned best left-handed starting pitcher in team history. He is also probably THE best overall pitcher, as well. I only say “probably” since injuries robbed fans of seeing him truly dominate over long stretches.
Higuera pitched his entire nine-year career in Milwaukee, but he really only was his true self for six seasons through 1990. He actually started to get some nagging injuries prior to that, limiting his starts in 1989 and 1990. A rotator cuff injury in 1991 ended his season and effectively his career. After missing the 1992 season, he came back to pitch parts of the next 2 years, but he was never the same. The Brewers have been looking for the next transcendent lefty ever since.
The Mexican-born Higuera got a fairly late start, debuting for the Brewers in 1985 at the age of 27. They knew they had something right away. He went 15-8 with a 3.90 ERA, finishing 2nd in the AL Rookie of Year race. He went much bigger in ’86, making the All-Star team and finishing 2nd in the AL Cy Young. He won 20 games (the last Brewers pitcher to do so), had a 2.79 ERA, finishing with 207 strikeouts.
He followed up that great season, with another one in 1987. He increased his strikeouts to 240, while going 18-10. He also had a streak of 32 scoreless innings that season, which showed how dominant he could be. In 1988 he led the league with a .999 WHIP, while going 16-9 with a 2.45 ERA. He seemed to add something to his game every season.
More from Brewers History
- Brewers: Looking at former prospects traded at the Deadline under Stearns
- Remembering Lorenzo Cain’s Top 5 Moments In A Brewers Uniform
- Ranking the Last Five Milwaukee Brewers Memorial Day Wins
- How five former Brewers are doing on their new teams
- How the Milwaukee Brewers Got Their Name
Higuera finished his career with 94 wins, a 3.61 ERA, and a 1.236 WHIP. All of those numbers would likely be much improved if it weren’t for his injuries. As it was, his 30.5 WAR is still the best in Brewers history for a pitcher. And it’s not close.
The left-handed conclusion
The Brewers have fallen short in recent years partly because of pitching and not being able to develop top of the rotation starters. Furthermore, as you can see by this list, they also have had a hard time procuring southpaws in the rotation. There have been a lot of solid lefties, but nobody that has come close to Higuera or Caldwell for long stretches.
The trend will likely continue in the near future. The Brewers best prospects are all right-handed. In fact, they just traded former 1st round pick Kodi Medeiros to help acquire Joakim Soria at the trade deadline. In fairness, Medeiros was likely ticketed to the bullpen, but it just shows how hard lefties are to procure–especially for the Brewers. The best bet right now is fast-rising Cam Roegner, a local kid that is not a highly rated prospect at this point. He just keeps producing.
Davis Stearns has done a lot of great things since coming to Milwaukee 3 seasons ago. He certainly is aware of the lack of left-handed pitching in the minors and the big league club, which is something that could help the team greatly as this window of competitiveness begins to open.
Could Josh Hader become the next great one? He has seemingly become a fixture in the bullpen, but it could be an option in the future. Either way, it would be nice to get back to the 1980’s when Caldwell passed the torch to Higuera. Who will be next?