The Milwaukee Brewers quietly added starter Josh Lindblom to their rotation this off season, but could he end up as the key to their 2020 success? It’s very possible.
The search for a true top starter for the Milwaukee Brewers has been going on for at least three consecutive off seasons. Every year the Brewers have a need to fill at the top of their rotation, and every year top and mid-tier free agent starters sign elsewhere. GM David Stearns did add Brett Anderson to round out the 2020 rotation, but he also brought Josh Lindblom in from the Korean Baseball Organization. Could Lindblom provide the boost the Brewers’ rotation needs?
What were Lindblom’s numbers in Korea?
Lindblom fared pretty well in the KBO, a notorious hitters’ league. Lindblom managed sub-3.00 ERAs in each of his last two seasons in Korea. He averaged almost a strikeout per inning, and posted a BB/9 of about 2.00 during his three years overseas.
His 2019 season was by far his most impressive as he earned the MVP award with a 20-win season that saw 2.50 ERA. In 194 2/3 innings, Lindblom struck out 189, walked 29, and was only tagged for 13 homers.
How does he project for the Majors?
Lindblom won’t light up a radar gun, but he does possess a solid four-seam fastball, an effective split-finger fastball, and useful breaking balls. He has at least four pitches, and he has weapons he can throw to lefties and righties as an out pitch.
Steamer projections have Lindblom with an ERA in the mid-4.00 range, and it sees the strikeouts carrying over the Majors. Steamer projects an 8.78 K/9 and a 2.59 BB/9. This type of season would give Lindblom a 2.2 WAR. That’s a solid number, but the Brewers will need a lot more from Lindblom if they want to contend for a playoff spot.
Why is Lindblom the key to the season?
The Milwaukee Brewers need Lindblom to emerge as more than just a capable innings eater. Lindblom needs to step up for the Brewers like he stepped up into a larger role in Korea.
He doesn’t have to post ace-like numbers, but he needs to consistently work past the fifth inning, rack up zeroes, and average around a strikeout per inning. If Lindblom can contribute positive results for the majority of his 32 starts, the Brewers will have a chance to compete for a Wild Card berth or an NL Central division crown.
The Brewers rotation features four other starters that have either missed time or struggled. Of the five most likely candidates to start the season in the rotation, Lindblom may be the most reliable option when it comes to taking the ball every fifth day. The team needs that stability, but they also need above average production.