With Free agency in full swing, the Milwaukee Brewers have some gaps to fill and quality starting pitching options are out there.
This week has seen two top tier starters sign contracts for the 2020 season. Cole Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million dollar deal with the Atlanta Braves and Zack Wheeler signed a five-year, $110 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Both are great pitchers, but there are some comparable (and cheaper) options on the market still that the Brewers could bring in to the rotation in 2020.
Who should the Brewers target?
Let’s look at two different pitchers really quickly:
Pitcher A is 36 years old
In 83 starts since the beginning of 2017 he is 27-25 with a 3.92 ERA, a 1.282 WHIP, 64 home runs given up, and had 436 strike outs compared to 142 walks.
This pitcher made $20 million last season.
Pitcher B is 27 years old and from 2015-2017 he made 82 starts going 28-28 with a 4.10 ERA, a 1.253 WHIP, gave up 69 home runs, and threw 422 strike outs compared to 138 walks. He did have Tommy John surgery in 2018 but is fully recovered while making $5 million last season.
If you had guessed Hamels for Pitcher A you would be correct. Pitcher B is former Arizona Diamondbacks starter Taijuan Walker.
From 2015 to 2017 Walker was considered a can’t miss player for the Seattle Mariners and D-Backs. Since then though he has made just four starts and thrown just 14 innings in the Majors.
The Brewers could bring Walker in to compete with the current rotation of players for less than the $5 million he made last season and on a one-year, “prove it” deal.
Walker is still young and could get back to his potential while also giving the Brewers a good option to start every five days.
Is there another intriguing option available?
Let’s do another one!
Pitcher A is 29, 15-12 in the last two seasons with a 4.13 ERA in 228 2/3 innings, and has a 1.29 WHIP with 230 strikeouts to 83 walks. He made $2 million last season.
Pitcher B is also 29, holds a 23-15 record through the last two seasons, including a 3.65 ERA in 377 2/3 innings. His 1.194 WHIP with 374 strike outs and 105 walks are stellar and he earned a hefty pay raise to nearly $24 million a season.
Pitcher C is a crafty 33 year old, left handed veteran with a 19-8 record since the start of 2018. In 49 games he threw 248 innings with a 1.3 WHIP, 3.52 ERA and 190 strike outs to 88 walks. He made a nice $4.5 million last season.
These three should be easy for all Brewers fans. Pitcher A became the de facto ace of the team last season on their journey to the postseason, Jordan Lyles. The Brewers have already lost a number of free agents, but it makes sense to offer Lyles a multi-year contract and a pay raise with what he did in 2019.
Pitcher B is the newest Phillies starter, Wheeler.
Pitcher C is another late season Brewers hero, lefty Wade Miley, who had a resurgence in Milwaukee in 2018, earning a 2 million dollar pay raise with the Houston Astros last year.
Any other interesting names?
One more? Okay!
Pitcher A will be 29 in January. In 2017 and 2018 he went 25-10 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.13 WHIP with 286 strikeouts and 78 walks in 60 games. He didn’t pitch much in 2019, splitting time between Triple-A and the Majors. He appears to be healthy and ready to go.
Pitcher B is 32 years old, and in 53 games the last two years was 20-19 with a 3.74 ERA, a 1.33 WHIP, and 244 strikeouts over 97 walks. After sitting out after not getting a contract offer his agent liked he made $21 million with an NL East team.
Pitcher B is the bearded one, Dallas Keuchel. Pitcher A is Alex Wood, former Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers starter. Wood never seemed to fit in to Cincinnati, and, like the others, could benefit from a change of scenery. He made $9.5 million last season, but would be a steal if he can find that 2017-2018 success.
Whichever way the Brewers go, just know that there isn’t just one or two options out there. The winter is long and just because the team hasn’t made a big deal yet doesn’t mean they aren’t looking at every option.