The Milwaukee Brewers have at least a handful of pitchers, both starters and relievers, that are locks to be on the playoff roster barring an unforeseen injury in the coming days.
1) Josh Hader, LHP
Josh Hader is a lock to the make post-season roster.
Just as he was in 2018, Hader has been one of the top five best relievers in baseball again in 2019. Hader has produced 2.4 WAR so far according to Fangraphs, which is third best among relievers.
Hader’s success, much as it was the year before, has been carried by his ability to miss bats. He has a league-leading strikeout rate of 16.45 per nine innings this year. He’s also significantly limited the number of runners he puts on, posting a solid 2.33 BB/9.
Outside of a brief stretch in July and August, where he struggled with the long ball in ways that cost the Brewers some games, Hader has been absolutely dominant.
There’s no doubt that Hader will be one of the keys to the Brewers trying to make another deep playoff run this season.
2) Drew Pomeranz, LHP
Another reliever who’s been vital to the Brewers run is Drew Pomeranz.
Since coming over to the Brewers at the trade deadline, Pomeranz has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. He’s posted a 2.14 ERA, with a 1.84 FIP since August 1st. His 0.8 fWAR is tied for eighth best in the Majors among relievers during that period.
Like Hader, Pomeranz has been almost unhittable, posting a K/9 rate 16.29 since August 1. His .343 BABIP against suggests he’s actually been unlucky to have an ERA above a two, especially since he’s inducing a lot of ground balls on the balls put in play against him (51.4%).
Pomeranz has been an absolute revelation. He and Hader will be spearheading the pen this October. He’s likely to occupy the role that Corey Knebel did last year.
3) Brent Suter, LHP
Brent Suter has been very impressive since he returned to the team in September after recovering from Tommy John Surgery.
Suter ranks fifth among Brewers pitchers in the month of September for fWAR (0.4). He has an incredibly low ERA (0.52), has pitched multiple innings in most of his outings (17 1/3 innings over eight outings), and has solid underlying stats backing up his production with a FIP of 2.53, and a sub one BB/9 rate (0.52).
With Hader and Pomeranz set up to fill the roles that Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress had coming into the playoffs last season, Suter could be the multi-inning guy that Hader and Brandon Woodruff were last post-season. He will likely operate as the main guy to bridge the gap between the starters and late-inning guys.
He’s the third and final reliever that is an absolute lock to be on the playoff roster.
4) Adrian Houser, RHP
A few starters are locks to make the playoff roster as well. The first is Adrian Houser.
Houser has been, arguably, the Brewers best starting pitcher over the past two months. He leads the starting rotation with a 0.9 fWAR since July 31st. His ERA (3.70) and FIP (3.73) during that time are virtually even, which suggests that his production during this run is sustainable.
It is worth noting that he has had some bad luck in September too. Though his ERA for the month sits at a 5.31, worst among the Brewers to start a game this month, his FIP sits at a very impressive 3.07 as does his xFIP. He’s not had as good of fortune on batted balls in play as he had the month before, and that’s contributed to a higher ERA than his overall performances suggested he should have had.
There might be some consideration from the team to use him as a multi-inning reliever here given his numbers in September, and a lack of available slots to start. However, there is no doubt that he’ll feature on their roster come this postseason. There’s a very good chance he’d feature as a starter if the Milwaukee Brewers end up in the NLDS.
5) Jordan Lyles, RHP
Jordan Lyles is another starter who is undoubtedly a lock to make the postseason roster.
Since coming over at the trade deadline, Lyles leads all Brewers starters with a 2.45 ERA. Though some of his underlying numbers suggest regression may be near (his FIP is a 4.43, and his BABIP against is an unsustainably low .225), he’s still been quite good.
Given his hot run, Lyles should get the nod to start. We’ll see if he features as their go-to option if they end up playing a tie-breaker game, or a wild card game.
6) Brandon Woodruff, RHP
The final starter that’s a lock to make the roster is Brandon Woodruff.
Woodruff has been the best pitcher on the Brewers roster this year. He leads the team in fWAR (3.3) despite missing several weeks due to injury.
His underlying stats are eye-popping for a starter as well. He’s averaged 10.58 K/9 while walking just 2.22 batters per/9, and limiting opponents to less than a HR/9. For context, his K/9 rate would rank in the top 20 among all starters in 2019 if he pitched enough innings to qualify.
The only real question surrounding him entering the postseason is what his role will be. Given that he’s just coming back from injury, he probably won’t be able to pitch deep into games. However, his dominance as a starter all season makes him a very likely candidate to open games, especially in a potential tie-breaker or wild card game.
One of he or Houser has a pretty good chance of being moved into a multi-inning role in relief. We’ll see if the Brewers choose to do that if they make it that far.