The Milwaukee Brewers were expecting reliever Bobby Wahl to grow into an important role with the bullpen in 2019. That didn’t happen. Is 2020 the year that Wahl puts it together?
Last off season, the Milwaukee Brewers traded outfielder Keon Broxton to the New York Mets for a trio of prospects. Adam Hill has already been flipped for catcher Omar Narvaez. Felix Valerio spent 2019 in Rookie ball and only turned 19 last month. Bobby Wahl appeared ready to step into a role with the Brewers bullpen in 2019, but a torn ACL in his right knee derailed his season.
Wahl has been ready to go for a few months, and should be among the favorites to win a bullpen role out of Spring Training. Is this the year he steps up?
Did Wahl pitch at all in 2019?
Wahl made two appearances in Spring Training before suffering an ACL tear. He threw 1 2/3 innings, gave up three runs on two hits and two walks, and managed to strike out two. That was the last time he was seen on a mound until the fall.
Wahl made it back for the Arizona Fall League, and made six appearances for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Wahl tossed five innings in total and posted a 14.40 ERA. He was tagged for eight hits and four walks during his time in the AFL. He did manage to strikeout seven.
His AFL run was disappointing, but it was his first live game action since suffering the injury, and he was likely working on his timing and delivery. It’s not a huge shock to see him struggle in his first run against live hitters.
Why is 2020 important for Wahl?
2020 will be Wahl’s age-28 season. If it’s not going to work for Wahl now, it might never work.
The Brewers are also have a lot of roles in the bullpen that they’ll need to figure out before Opening Day. Unless the team acquires four veteran relievers in the next three weeks, Wahl is going to get ample opportunity to win a role in the Brewers bullpen. If he washes out or ends up back in Triple-A, it won’t be because the Brewers failed to give him a chance. He’s looking at multiple chances throughout the Spring to work his way into an active roster spot.
He has the big fastball and power breaking stuff that has proven to work well in a high-leverage relief role. It’s time that he finds a way to harness his impressive stuff and claim a role as part of the bridge to Brewers closer Josh Hader.