We continue our ranking of the Top 50 Milwaukee Brewers of the 2010 decade and have reached the next spot on our list.
With a very successful decade in the books, complete with three different playoff appearances, the Milwaukee Brewers have had many contributions from a wide variety of players.
How We Ranked Them
We created an initial list of the top players by comparing their Fangraphs total WAR from each year they were with the Brewers and ranked them from highest to lowest. However, this wasn’t going to be a list of simply who had the highest WAR while they were here and that’s it. So we adjusted the list based on postseason contributions, overall quality of player, and general importance to the franchise.
Our list began at No 50. and continues here at No. 48.
48. RHP Tyler Thornburg
Starting with the Crew in 2012 after being drafted in the third round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, right handed pitcher Tyler Thornburg had a very successful run with the Brewers.
Up until 2012, Thornburg played with the Helena Brewers (2010), Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (2011) and also the Brevard County Manatees (2011) He had a 1.50 ERA and even represented the Timber Rattlers in the Midwest League All-Star Game.
Here are Thornburg’s WAR numbers by year when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. This’ll exclude his time with the Red Sox.
Total WAR: 2.0
Thornburg made his major league debut on June 19, 2012 when he was called up on an emergency start for Shaun Marcum, who had suffered an injury. After allowing three home runs in his first game, he was sent down to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Though, in the eight appearances he made in that year, he posted a 4.50 ERA, 20 K’s, and 7 walks in the 22 innings he pitched.
He also got to play in a couple of games during spring training 2013, but was quickly demoted to Nashville. Tyler was called up again in June of ’13 to replace injured Marco Estrada, even with a 6.75 ERA in his 12 starts in Nashville. He was sent back to Nashville in the middle of June but was called up once again on June 29 to replace Caleb Gindl. Thornburg then spent the rest of the ’13 season in Milwaukee where he posted a 2.03 ERA, 48 K’s, and 26 walks.
In 2014, he did suffer an elbow injury that would end his season. With the Brewers in 2014 before the injury, though, he did make 27 appearances with a 3-1 record, 4.25 ERA with 28 K’s and 21 walks. He spent 2015 in Triple A to regain the strength back in his arm before he was recalled in July for the 2015 Brewers season. In that season, he made 24 appearances, all of them being reliefs with a 3.67 ERA, 34 strikeouts, and 12 walks.
2016 had to have been Thornburg’s best season with the Milwaukee Brewers when he finished with a career-high 67 appearances as a relief with an 8-5 record posting a 2.15 ERA, 90 strikeouts and 25 walks in just 67 innings pitched. He displayed beautiful, high speed velocity pitching, reaching a career-high of 96 MPH. He also did set the Milwaukee Brewers’ franchise record for consecutive innings without allowing a baserunner by a relief pitcher.
After Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith (No. 49 on our list) were traded away at the 2016 deadline, Thornburg became the Crew’s closer, notching 13 saves.
Although it was an incredible season, December 2016 marked the end of Thornburg’s time with the Milwaukee Brewers when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington, and a PTBNL (Yeison Coca). He went into the 2017 season on the DL with a shoulder injury, which would come to be diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome, and would require surgery. Thornburg did miss the entire 2017 season.
The trade the Brewers made was alright. Travis Shaw was on fire when he first arrived in Milwaukee, but as time as gone on, he has been reassigned to Triple A several times, and had a rough 2019 season after two back-to-back 30+ homer seasons. Mauricio Dubon is now a shortstop on the San Francisco Giants, who was traded by the crew to acquire Drew Pomeranz.
Even with his struggles, it’s safe to say that Thornburg was an solid add to our bullpen when healthy. He wasn’t one of the best, as he rarely started and usually appeared as a reliever, but he still stands at No. 48 in our Top 50 list.
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Tyler Thornburg is now with in a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that was signed sometime in the All-Star break. It is unclear on when he will return to the major leagues.