SP4: RHP Josh Lindblom
The Brewers had previously seen success in signing players from overseas in recent years (see: Eric Thames, Jay Jackson) and were hoping for another success story in Josh Lindblom. Early returns haven’t quite shown the same results so far, however.
There were reasons to be optimistic that he could achieve the same success as the other two. He had won the KBO’s version of the Cy Young award twice and was coming off a KBO MVP win during the 2019 season.
But like many other players, success overseas didn’t translate to instant success in the states. At least not when you look at the numbers on the surface.
In 12 games (10 starts) in his first season back in the U.S., Lindblom put up a 5.16 ERA while allowing opposing batters to hit .244 against him. He gave up two runs or more in each of his first seven starts on the year.
That may not look great at first glance, but there are reasons to think Lindblom can turn it around. First off, his 3.87 FIP shows that he pitched better than his ERA would leave one to believe. A 1.279 WHIP shows that he wasn’t allowing an exceptionally high amount of batters to reach base either.
Lindblom showed that his very diverse pitch mix (Statcast showed him throwing six different ones in 2020) can give batters fits at times as his 10.3 K/9 rate showed. He also graded favorably in a number of other Statcast metrics, including hard hit rate (32.5%) and barrel rate (5.0%) which both ranked in the 76th percentile or better.
There was also a stretch at the end of the season that showed promise. At one point, Lindlom went 12 1/3 innings over four games where he gave up just six hits, an earned run, and zero walks with ten strikeouts, showing that he may have started adjusting back to MLB hitters.
Lindblom is in the second year of a three-year contract so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And since his career resurgence came after converting from reliever to starter, there’s no reason to believe that the Brewers would think of shifting him to the bullpen any time soon.
With a season of adjusting back to MLB hitting under his belt and more time working with Milwaukee pitching coaches, there’s reason to believe in a solid 2021 season for Lindblom. If that happens, it’s a great situation to be in with your team’s No. 4 starter.