We continue our series here at Reviewing The Brew grading the 2018 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers players. Next up is reliever Jeremy Jeffress.
The bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers was the team’s strong suit basically all season long. Jeremy Jeffress played a key role in making that bullpen such an effective group.
Without Jeremy Jeffress taking on the role he did, it’s difficult to envision the Brewers being as good of a team as they were.
Regular Season Grade: A
While all the headlines were on Josh Hader this year, Jeremy Jeffress actually put up better numbers. Hader had a 2.43 ERA in the regular season. Jeffress had an ERA of 1.29.
Jeffress was originally supposed to be a setup man alongside Hader to get the game to closer Corey Knebel. But when Knebel went down with a hamstring injury in early April, Jeffress had to step up in a bigger role.
He shared closing duties with a number of other relievers while Knebel was on the mend and went back into a setup role once Knebel returned. Jeremy was as automatic as it came during the early part of the season, which helped him earn his first career All-Star appearance.
Jeffress finished with an 8-1 record, a 1.29 ERA in 73 appearances covering 76.2 innings, 0.99 WHIP, 89 strikeouts, and 15 saves.
When Knebel struggled during the middle of the year, Jeffress stepped up into the closer’s role and it was a seamless transition for him as he has plenty of experience in that role, being the Crew’s primary closer back in 2016.
The emotion and energy that Jeffress brought to the mound every game was a breath of fresh air for Milwaukee Brewers fans.
Jeffress was as trusted a reliever you could find during the regular season in 2018.
Postseason Grade: D-
The postseason was a completely different story for Jeffress, however. In Game 1 of the NLDS, Jeffress allowed the two runs to score to tie the game in the 9th, forcing the game to go to extra innings, where they won on a Mike Moustakas walk-off single.
In the NLCS, Jeffress seemingly imploded. Appearing in five of the seven games, Jeffress allowed 10 hits and four runs, including a nail in the coffin home run in Game 7.
After pitching to a 1.29 ERA in the regular season, Jeffress finished with a 6.75 ERA in the postseason.
Craig Counsell continued to trust Jeffress to get big outs, and it’s hard to blame him for that, as there were a lot of fluke hits against Jeffress in the playoffs. There were also some long home runs given up by him.
I doubt it was the pressure getting to Jeffress as he pitched in big innings all year long. It’s possible that Jeffress could’ve been tipping his pitches, as that was the case for a number of successful pitchers this postseason. There haven’t been any reports of that, but it is one possibility.
Either way, it was a rough postseason for Jeffress.
Overall Grade: A-
It was still a great year for Jeremy, as he established himself as one of the premier relievers in the game. The postseason was rough but his struggles were not the reason the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t move on to the World Series.
With Jeffress, Hader, and Knebel returning for 2019, the bullpen has a chance to be just as dominant next season.
Whenever Jeffress is in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform, he’s comfortable and at home. His contract option for next season at $3.175 million should be easily picked up.