The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was seen as a strength coming into the 2019 season. Injuries and poor performance lead to an inconsistent season from the Brewers relief corps. How do they rebound in 2020?
Do you remember the Milwaukee Brewers ‘three-headed monster’ bullpen that lead the team to the playoffs last year? Only one of their trio ended the year on the active roster. Josh Hader turned in another amazing season as the Brewers closer, but Corey Knebel never through a pitch in a regular season game and Jeremy Jeffress was DFA’ed. Knebel should return next year, but what about the rest of the bullpen?
Which relievers will return in 2020?
Hader will continue as the Milwaukee Brewers closer for the foreseeable future. Junior Guerra, Alex Claudio, and Jay Jackson should all return next year. Brent Suter may work his way into the fifth starter’s job, but he could also end up in the bullpen. That’s four or five spots in the bullpen that are spoken for.
Anyone else who might contribute to the bullpen in 2020?
The Milwaukee Brewers also have Taylor Williams, Devin Williams, Ray Black, Bobby Wahl, and Jake Faria on their 40-man roster. One or more of these intriguing arms could win a role in the bullpen with a strong Spring.
Who won’t return in 2020?
Matt Albers is a free agent and is almost assured of having to find a new job in 2020.
Drew Pomeranz is the only other Milwaukee Brewers reliever headed for free agency. It’s believed that the team would like him back, but it remains to be seen if the Brewers will be willing to commit the dollars and years that Pomeranz will command.
Pomeranz rebounded from a slow start with the San Francisco Giants to dominate for the Milwaukee Brewers down the stretch. Pomweranz made 24 relief appearances and one start for the Brewers, and managed a 2.39 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. He also struck out 45, walked only eight, and was tagged for four homers.
What about Corbin Burnes?
Corbin Burnes was an unmitigated disaster as a starter in 2019, but did look a little better in relief. Burnes was only a normal disaster as a reliever. He posted an ERA over 10.00 in four starts, but managed a 7.76 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers. He did strikeout 70 batters in less than 50 innings, but he also walked 20 and was tagged for 17(!) homers.
Burnes will likely start the 2019 season in Triple-A, but he will pitch in the Majors at some point in 2020. It makes a lot more sense for Burnes to work his way back to the Majors in a relief role.
Any interesting options in free agency?
The market will have dozens of options for the Milwaukee Brewers to choose from. Dellin Betances, Cody Allen, Steve Cishek, Will Harris, Daniel Hudson, Collin McHugh, Craig Stammen, and Brandon Kintzler are all free agents, and that’s just the right-handers. This is a deep year for relief help through free agency, and it could take all off-season to play out.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a tough decision to make on Pomeranz, but there should be a ton of options to choose from, and these don’t even include the guys who get DFA’ed or made available on the trade market. The Brewers have the most important pieces in place. It’s just a matter of augmenting and adding a few cost effective arms to reload their bullpen.