Milwaukee Brewers: Do They Need Another Starting Pitcher?
The Milwaukee Brewers have a lot of depth in their starting pitching corps, but lack an established group of them. Do they need to acquire another starter before the season starts?
It’s been a topic of discussion surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers for two years now. Everyone believes the Crew needs to add more starting pitching. And for the past two years, Brewers GM David Stearns has told the media that he likes the pitching he has. Although many just believed Stearns was saying that because he keeps his cards close to the vest.
But Stearns truly did believe in the starting pitching he had in 2018, and he was proven right. The pitching performed better than most expected, and even after all that, the outside world still isn’t high on the pitchers Milwaukee has.
Young pitching prospects Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Brandon Woodruff all were important contributors in 2018, but only Peralta was a regular in the starting rotation. Now entering their second full season, these three should take a large step forward in 2019.
The Starting Pitching Depth
Here’s the list of the current starting pitchers on the Milwaukee Brewers, in alphabetical order.
- Chase Anderson
- Corbin Burnes
- Jhoulys Chacin
- Zach Davies
- Junior Guerra
- Jimmy Nelson
- Freddy Peralta
- Brandon Woodruff
Not to mention, there are also some decent depth options in the minor leagues for the Brewers to dive into should any injury situations arise.
The Brewers have enough depth at starting pitcher, with 13 pitchers in the two lists above, but what they lack are established pitchers.
Jhoulys Chacin sort of established himself in 2018, but there’s reasons to be concerned about his ability to repeat. Although he posted a solid 3.50 ERA last year, Chacin had a 4.03 FIP and a 4.47 xFIP, which points to some regression in 2019. He’s never been regarded as a top of the rotation type pitcher, and he’s never really shown the ability to do so.
Chase Anderson was supposed to be the established name in this rotation, but he’s coming off a terrible season in 2018 and there’s doubts about whether he can get back to the level he was at before. Zach Davies is coming off an injury-riddled season where he also battled ineffectiveness.
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Jimmy Nelson was well on his way to becoming that established ace in 2017 before he injured his throwing shoulder. After missing all of 2018, he’s ready for spring training, but will he pick up right where he left off? Getting him back should basically be like acquiring a top starting pitcher to lead this rotation, but it’s a major question mark if he can continue his upward trajectory after such a major injury.
The true saviors of this group are the young guns in Burnes, Peralta, and Woodruff. All three could step into the rotation this season and be impact pitchers. Woodruff can be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, Peralta could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, and Burnes could possibly even be a No. 1 starter. He’s young, but he’s got great stuff and pitched extremely well out of the bullpen last year and in the postseason.
Do They Need Another Starting Pitcher?
The one thing the Brewers lack in all those rotation options is a left handed pitcher. Every single option they have is a righty. While having a lefty is not necessarily a requirement, it’s certainly preferable.
The Crew’s incumbent lefty, Brent Suter, is going to be on the shelf for most, if not all, of 2019 with Tommy John surgery. Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez are still free agents, and while they could return, neither pitcher exactly moves the needle for this rotation. The Brewers are reportedly open to bringing back Miley, but his market is waiting on what happens with Dallas Keuchel.
Adding Dallas Keuchel would not only bring a lefty into the fold, but also move the needle on this rotation, giving it a legitimate, established frontline starting pitcher.
But do the Milwaukee Brewers NEED Dallas Keuchel? Do they need another starter? I would argue they do not. I’m a big believer in Jimmy Nelson’s ability to bounce back and I’m a big believer in Corbin Burnes’ ability to establish himself this season as the pitcher that scouts have been telling us he could be.
A rotation with Burnes, Nelson, Chacin, Peralta, and Woodruff as the starting five with Chase Anderson and Zach Davies waiting in the wings is a pretty good group, even though none of the five are guarantees with either regression concerns (Chacin), injury concerns (Nelson) or a general lack of experience (Burnes, Peralta, Woodruff).
While it would be nice to have someone established to count on in this rotation, these things have a way of working themselves out. David Stearns liked the pitching he had in 2018, and was proven right last season. There’s little reason not to trust him again with this group.
Someone always steps up. Last year, it was Jhoulys Chacin who stepped up when Chase Anderson struggled. The year before, it was Anderson and Nelson who stepped up when Junior Guerra was injured and battled ineffectiveness. This year, it could be Burnes, it could be Woodruff, it could be anyone.
If the Milwaukee Brewers stand pat for the rest of the offseason and don’t add anyone else, they’ll still have a great squad. Whatever inefficiencies arise during the season can be addressed in July. As far as if the Brewers absolutely need to add to their starting pitching group, that answer, for me, is a no.
There’s still a lot left to happen on the free agent market, and things can change quickly. But if the Brewers don’t add a starting pitcher before Opening Day, fans shouldn’t be disappointed.