Brewers: The Case For Keeping Brad Boxberger Despite His Poor Play
By Tyler Koerth
With just seven exhibition games remaining for the Brewers before the start of the 2021 regular season, time is running short for players whom are competing for a spot on the active roster. Unfortunately for one specific non-roster invitee, his spring training has been less than desirable.
That pitcher would be RHP Brad Boxberger, who is competing for a spot in the Brewers bullpen.
In seven spring training innings Boxberger carries a 10.29 ERA, has allowed eight earned runs, and has surrendered three home runs. On the surface these statistics are dreadful, but the hard part with Boxberger is deciphering what to make out of it as the 32-year-old has been quite steady throughout his nine-year MLB career.
Based on his past performance, it may still be worth it for the Brewers to keep Brad Boxberger as a bullpen arm.
In 329 innings pitched he has a 3.56 ERA and 77 career saves with the majority of them coming in 2015 (41 saves) and 2018 (32 saves). He relies heavily upon location as he does not possess very overpowering stuff. His fastball velocity sits in the low to mid-90s and he has a changeup in the high 70s to low 80s. Those are his two primary pitches.
Given what he has done throughout the entirety of his MLB career, when the Brewers signed him to a minor league contact with an invite to big league camp this spring, many believed he was a lock to make the opening day roster in the bullpen. Unfortunately, there is a lot of uncertainty now given his poor performances so far.
Potential candidates to steal one of the final bullpen spot from Boxberger include, but are not limited to, Justin Topa, Phil Bickford, Eric Yardley, J.P. Feyereisen, Angel Perdomo, Ray Black, and Bobby Wahl.
Thankfully all of these players except Black, who is fighting injury, have minor league options remaining, so if the Brewers felt very strongly that Boxberger will perform to expectations then he would just have to beat out other non-roster invitees in Hoby Milner and Blaine Hardy.
There is also an additional intriguing upside to keeping Boxberger around and that is that he could be this year’s David Phelps. What that means is that given Boxberger’s track record of success, if he is meeting or overperforming his expectations this season, he could be traded while his value is the highest.
This would be similar to what the Brewers did with David Phelps last season when they received three prospects from the Phillies. This of course depends solely upon Boxberger playing well, which he has not done so far in spring training.
This is an interesting situation that the Brewers find themselves in. We know how much David Stearns values acquiring young prospects and that might be just enough reason to keep Brad Boxberger on the roster, for now.