Should the Brewers reunite with free agent Anthony Swarzak?
During the 2017 stretch, the Brewers acquired right handed pitcher Anthony Swarzak from the Chicago White Sox for center fielder Ryan Cordell. Swarzak would go on to pitch 29 innings for the 2017 Brewers, who would fall one game short of the playoffs that year.
At the end of the 2017 season, Swarzak hit free agency, left the Milwaukee Brewers and signed a two year, $14 million contract with the New York Mets. 2018 was an injury-filled year in which he landed on the 60-day injured list with an oblique strain and a separate trip later in the season due to shoulder inflammation.
At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Swarzak would be traded to the Mariners in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade. As a Mariner, he appeared in only 15 games before being traded to the Atlanta Braves in May. In Atlanta, Swarzak had on and off success but eventually became a free agent at the end of the 2019 season.
How has he pitched since the 2017 season?
Not great. He’s only pitched 26 innings in 2018 due to injuries and posted a 6.15 ERA. Between the Mariners and Braves in 2019, he pitched 53 innings with a 4.56 ERA. His slider was thrown at a career high rate of 59% in 2019 while his fastball usage went down to 36%. In his best season, 2017, those percentages were closer to a 50/50 split.
Swarzak turned himself into a solid strikeout pitcher during the 2017 season when he posted a 10.6 K:9 ratio. Despite a limited sample size that number remained the same in 2018 and then decreased to 8.8 in 2019.
Opposing batters hit Swarzak hard in 2019. Batters posted a 45.5% hard hit percentage when facing him, which ranked in the bottom 2% in MLB. His velocity has not changed over the years with his fastball still in the mid-low 90s and his slider in the mid 80s. Without a significant change in speed between his two primary pitches, location and movement has attributed to a lot of his issues.
While Swarzak has not found sustained success or good health since leaving the Brewers, a contract should be pretty cheap at this point, if they would even want to sign him.
It is worth noting that Swarzak was never a lights out pitcher prior to the 2017 season. His best season prior to 2017 came as a Twin in 2013 when he pitched 96 innings and posted a 2.91 ERA. He has a 4.32 ERA for his career. If the Brewers were to sign Anthony Swarzak, it would have to be on a minor league contract with an invite to camp.
Swarzak had some good moments in a career year with the Brewers in 2017, but he hasn’t seen days like that ever since. Perhaps a return to Milwaukee could spark some more magic.