Eric Lauer was acquired by the Brewers in early December as part of a four-player trade with the San Diego Padres. While he hasn’t shown great success in his brief time in the majors, he has a chance to be a impact pitcher with the Brewers in 2020.
Eric Lauer was a first round pick by the Padres in 2016 out of Kent State, where he was the NCAA’s Pitcher of the Year in 2016. In his senior season at Kent State he posted an incredible 0.69 ERA. By 2018, at the age of 23, he started 23 games for the Padres.
In the minors, Lauer had a very impressive statline with a 2.93 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 195 K’s in 178 innings pitched. As a result of his draft position and success in the minors, Bleacher Report’s Zachary Rymer, back in 2018, referred to Lauer as a “hidden gem prospect”.
In 2018, he pitched 112 innings as a starter and posted a 4.34 ERA with a 1.51 WHIP and 100 K’s. While definitely not dominant, it was a decent rookie campaign. During his second season in 2019, Lauer didn’t improve on his 2018 campaign even though he was the Padres Opening Day starter. In 30 games with 29 of them as a starter, he posted an ERA of 4.45 with a WHIP of 1.30 and 138 K’s in 149 innings.
Lauer is viewed as a pitcher who has good, but not great stuff. He has a four-pitch mix but none of them are viewed as dominant. He was starting to get looked at as a guy who may do well in the minors but may not be able to put it together at the major league level even though he is still only 24 years old. The terms “solid”, “dependable” and “back end starter” are adjectives used to describe him.
Worth the risk
Baseball is littered with high draft picks who has success in the minor leagues but don’t fair as well in the majors, but Lauer is still young enough to turn things around. The Brewers don’t seem to be a team interested in spending big money on starting pitching so with his pedigree and five years of club control, he seems worth the small risk it took to acquire him.
Lauer is young, with a successful minor league career behind him, and major league experience so there is real possibility he could be a pleasant surprise this season and beyond. His value as a left-handed starter will greatly help the Brewers starting rotation, if he earns a spot.
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With the group the Brewers have assembled for their starting rotation, they’re going to need a couple of them to have surprising, breakout seasons in order for this team to reach its ultimate goal.