With the trade of Chase Anderson, the Milwaukee Brewers are in need of starting pitching. Madison Bumgarner and Zach Wheeler are two free agents who would make great additions to the starting rotation the Brewers. Will we see one of these two in a Brewers uniform in 2020
The Milwaukee Brewers need starting pitching. The Brewers bullpen in 2019 struggled after getting all the way to the NLCS in 2018 with a heavy reliance on their bullpen. The Brewers lost their closer Corey Knebel to an elbow injury in spring training. Jeremy Jeffress, one of the Brewers best relievers in 2018 was awful in 2019. His ERA rose by 3.73 points from 2018 to 2019. One way to prevent a bullpen from collapsing is to have a team’s starting pitching work more innings.
Is Bumgarner an option?
The 2014 World Series MVP is a free agent who will bring stability to any rotation he pitches in during 2020. Bumgarner has been one of the better pitchers in the league during the regular season; finishing top ten in the Cy Young award four times.
What makes Bumgarner special is his performance during October. Bumgarner is 8-3 in 102 1/3 innings pitched with an immaculate 2.11 ERA in his career pitching in the postseason. Bumgarner has near perfect 0.25 ERA in 36 innings in the World Series. Bumgarner will want to play for a team that will contend in 2020.
How about Wheeler?
Wheeler has just under 1,100 fewer innings on his arm than Bumgarner. Because of his limited workload, teams might think that Wheeler possesses the ability to maintain his elite velocity as he ages. He has very few innings on his arm due to his extensive injury history throughout his career.
Bumgarner’s velocity is dropping, whereas Wheeler’s velocity is rising. Wheeler had an ERA of 3.96 in 2019, but his FIP was at 3.48. This means that Wheeler has the potential to improve on his numbers in 2020.
How much will they cost?
Are either of these two in the Brewers price range? That depends on how other teams value these players.
Bumgarner has had great success in the postseason, but his velocity is dropping on his fastball and he has over 2,000 innings pitched between the regular season and the postseason. Teams may be afraid that Bumgarner will not perform well as his velocity continues to decrease and as he continues to record more innings on his arm.
Wheeler has a very long injury history and this may scare teams because they do not want to pay for a player who will spend most of his time on the injured list. Both pitchers will cost the team signing them a draft pick due to the qualifying offer attached to these players.
Wheeler had the better 2019 season, while Bumgarner has had a better career. Bumgarner brings postseason experience and Wheeler brings elite fastball velocity. Both pitchers should get 4-to-5 year deals worth anywhere between $15-20 million a year. The markets for these two may be slowed down, because teams that lose out on Gerrit Cole may view either of these two as a backup option. The Brewers have taken advantage of slow off seasons before and this may get one of these two pitching in Milwaukee in 2020.
Which ace fits better on the Brewers?
Wheeler is less than a year younger than Bumgarner and he brings elite velocity to a team desperate for starting pitching. Bumgarner’s fastball is losing velocity and this is most likely due to the number of innings on his arm. Teams have to be careful not to pay Bumgarner for his past production, because there is no guarantee that Bumgarner will perform at the same level in the postseason as he has in the past.
Wheeler’s velocity and movement gives him the potential to be an elite pitcher. The Brewers almost traded for Wheeler in the infamous 2015 trade that fell through. The Brewers contacted the Mets to acquire him in both 2018 and 2019.
The Brewers saved $15 million by trading Chase Anderson and releasing Eric Thames. The Brewers need starting pitching even more now that they traded Anderson and the $15 million they saved should be used to bring Wheeler and his elite velocity to Milwaukee.