Brewers News

Brewers: Right-hander Josh Lindblom to start or relieve?

Matthew Dewoskin
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 19: Josh Lindblom #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park on May 19, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 19: Josh Lindblom #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park on May 19, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Brewers have several candidates for the starting rotation, but lack depth in their bullpen. Could moving Josh Lindblom to the bullpen provide a solution?

It was assumed that right-hander Josh Lindblom would start when the Milwaukee Brewers signed him as a free agent. Given the amount of starting options in camp and the lack of options in the bullpen, could Lindblom make sense as a reliever?

Who is known to be in the starting rotation?

Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer, and Brett Anderson are believed to slot into the first four spots in the rotation in some order. Brent Suter, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Lindblom could also end up in the mix.

The Milwaukee Brewers won’t need a fifth starter until mid-April, thanks to some friendly scheduling. Whoever wins the final spot in the starting five could end up working out of the bullpen for the first two weeks of the season.

Has Lindblom worked in relief in his career?

Lindblom has worked in relief in his career. However, he’s worked only as a starter in Korea for each of the last five years.

The only time he’s worked in relief recently was when he briefly came back to the United States in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lindblom worked 21 games for the Pirates and their Triple-A affiliate, and 18 were in relief.

The only season that Lindblom has spent the full year working out of the bullpen was 2012. He split the year between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Lindblom worked 74 games in relief in total and managed a 3.55 ERA. He worked 71 innings in total, struck out 70, walked 35, and was tagged for 13 homers.

What role will Lindblom fill for the Brewers

Lindblom was slated to start the first Spring Training game of the year. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll start the year in the rotation, but it’s a very strong indication of how Lindblom is viewed by Brewers management. Unless he really struggles in a starting role, Lindblom was signed as a starter from Korea, and he should start the year in the rotation.

Starting the year in the rotation doesn’t mean that Lindblom will spend the entire year as a starter for the Brewers. Manager Craig Counsell likes to have a few ‘bullpen games’ during the year. Lindblom could throw a few innings in relief in one of those, or spend time working in long relief.

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The seasons in Korea are a bit shorter than seasons in the United States, and the KBO has off days built in to every week on the schedule. The Brewers could choose to transition Lindblom into a relief role to keep him fresh for the final months of the season and as a way to limit his innings.

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