The Milwaukee Brewers had three relief pitchers end the year with double digit saves in 2018. Will a similar formula work in 2019, or should the Brewers go with one guy for the majority of the season?
Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, and Jeremy Jeffress each racked up more than 10 saves in 2018. Five other relievers recorded at least one save. Is it possible for the Milwaukee Brewers to make it through another season with a ‘closer-by-committee’, or is manager Craig Counsell just determined to frustrate fantasy baseball aficionados?
Why did the Brewers use multiple closers in 2018?
It may be hard to remember what happened in April of 2018, but Knebel started the year as the Milwaukee Brewers’ designated closer. He struggled, got hurt, and needed a month off. During that time, Hader and Jeffress emerged as options for the ninth inning, and had such impressive first halves that they made the NL All Star team.
Knebel returned from the DL, and struggled so badly that he needed to head to Triple-A for about a week. He was able to recover in September and was featured in save situations in the playoffs.
Who’s the odds on favorite to close in 2019?
Based on recent speculation, the committee is the most likely option to start the season in the ninth inning. The Milwaukee Brewers have the depth to succeed with multiple pitchers working the ninth inning. With the committee, Counsell can play match ups, rest key members of the bullpen, and maintain the ‘next man up’ philosophy without losing anyone to the DL.
The Milwaukee Brewers have turned versatility into a strength in 2018, and nowhere was that more evident than in the closer’s role. While it’s unlikely that the Brewers will have eight pitchers earn at least one save again, it’s still possible for Hader, Knebel, and Jeffress to rack up double digit saves again. There’s also a chance that an unlikely source, such as Junior Guerra or Taylor Williams, could also get in on the save game in 2019. The committee is the most likely option for the Brewers to start the season, but it’s unclear how deep Counsell will go in choosing options in the ninth inning.