Milwaukee Brewers: How does the bullpen shape up now?
The off season is less than a month away from ending, as the Milwaukee Brewers report to camp on February 13th. The starting rotation is going to round into shape during camp, but do the Brewers have their bullpen sorted out?
The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was a huge factor in their run to the NLCS last year. Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel did a lot of heavy lifting for the Brewers while the starting rotation struggled at times.
The 2019 starting rotation features the same cast of characters as last year with a few additions. Jimmy Nelson should make his return, Corbin Burnes will get a shot at a full-time starting role, and Brandon Woodruff or Freddy Peralta should also work their way into the mix.
While the Milwaukee Brewers starting five has a chance to improve, the team will still need a capable bullpen. How does it look after a few additions, a few subtractions, and a few additions by subtraction.
Who’s out of the Brewers 2019 bullpen?
Burnes is slated to start the year in the rotation. Woodruff and Peralta could both join him. Also, left-handers Dan Jennings and Xavier Cedeno were released in November, and appear unlikely to return at this point.
Joakim Soria also signed elsewhere this off season.
Who are the locks?
Hader, Jeffress, and Knebel should serve as the end of game hammers for the Milwaukee Brewers again in 2019. Alex Claudio, acquired from the Texas Rangers is also a lock for the 2019 bullpen as the designated LOOGY.
Jacob Barnes and Matt Albers are both expected to earn spots in the Brewers’ bullpen, but a poor Spring could send either to free agency.
Junior Guerra is also expected to convert to a full-time relief role this year. Given his repertoire, there’s a solid chance that he makes a successful transition, and fill a similar role to what Burnes did last year.
Who are the ‘bubble’ guys?
Taylor Williams is also back in the fold for 2019, but could spend the season shuttling between the Majors and Triple-A again.
Adrian Houser and Aaron Wilkerson will both return for 2019, and are in a similar situation to Williams. Of the trio, Williams and Houser are the most likely to break out and work their way into a regular role with the Milwaukee Brewers relief corps.
Bobby Wahl and Jake Petricka were both acquired during the off season, and it remains to be seen if they’ll fit into the Major League roster or head to Triple-A. Petricka posted solid numbers in 2014 and 2015 with the Chicago White Sox, but has seen his career derailed by injuries. Wahl has the talent to work as a high-leverage reliever, but needs to solve his issues with command.
The only major addition to the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen this past off season was Claudio, and he figures as their ‘lefty-only, one-out guy’. The loss of Burnes will hurt, but Guerra could fit into the bullpen in the same role. The Brewers bullpen will again shoulder a heavy workload, but the group proved to be one of the best in baseball last year. There’s no reason to think that a slightly retooled version will be noticeably worse.