We continue to take a look back at the 2020 Milwaukee Brewers season with our report card for the sidearming lefty, Alex Claudio.
While he may not garner as much attention as some of the more high-profile names in the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen, Alex Claudio has been one of the bigger relief workhorses for the team over the past two years.
Last season, Claudio pitched in 83 games primarily as a lefty specialist for the Brewers, leading all of MLB in games pitched in 2019. This season, he took a bit of a step back in workload as he pitched in 20 games, which was just the fourth highest total on the team.
Of course MLB’s new three-batter minimum rule likely had a huge play in that. With Claudio required to pitch to more batters in more situations, it meant that manager Craig Counsell had to be more selective in when he deployed one of his few lefty options in the bullpen.
Though the new rule cut into Claudio’s workload a bit, Counsell still found plenty of opportunities to get him into games. So how did the left-hander with the funky delivery do in his second season in a Brewer uniform?
Alex Claudio 2020 Report Card
Claudio’s 2020 season was very similar to the one he had for the Brewers in 2019, which saw him pretty much middle-of-the-road in effectiveness. His ERA did end up rising a bit from 4.06 to 4.26 over the two years, but his fWAR did improve slightly, going from -0.2 to 0.1.
In terms of splits, not much changed for Claudio in 2020. He was still his strong self versus lefties, holding them to a .212/.257/.364 slash line, and still more hittable by righties with them slashing .268/.348/.390. All held pretty close to his 2019 splits, though the .390 slugging by righties actually represented a 79-point drop.
As usual, Claudio was great at limiting hard contact in 2020. His 25.4% hard hit rate by opposing batters was the 10th best mark in all of MLB while the average exit velocity of 81.7 mph that he gave up to hitters was the lowest mark for qualified pitchers in the entire league.
Oddly enough, Claudio only got banged around by two teams in 2020. All nine of his earned runs allowed were given up to either the Reds (four) or Pirates (five) over nine games. None of the other five teams he faced over his other 11 games in 2020 were able to score off of him.
Claudio is entering his final year of arbitration with the Brewers. Last offseason, he was non-tendered by Milwaukee only to be signed to a one-year contract shortly after at a slight discount to his projected arbitration number. We’ll see if the team opts to follow the same pattern in the coming months.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Claudio in a Brewer uniform in 2021. He may never blow fans away with his stuff, but 2020 showed once again how Counsell trusts him as a solid, if unspectacular, bullpen piece no matter what type of hitter he’s facing.