After a bullpen day yesterday against the Miami Marlins, it’s safe to say the Brewers relief pitchers are really coming into their own as of late. Coming off an injury, Brett Anderson wasn’t expected to go very long so it was up to the bullpen to keep the Marlins bats quiet and they did just that.
The Brewers combination of Boxberger, Lauer, Feyereisen, Williams, Hader and Rasmussen only allowed four hits and one earned run in seven innings of work including zero hits after the Lewis Brinson home run in the 7th inning.
There was a fair amount of concern after the first week or two of the season with the bullpen among the Brewer faithful and rightfully so. Devin Williams allowed as many runs in his first appearance as he did in all of 2020, Eric Yardley had to be sent down to the Alternate Training Site and Drew Rasmussen had an ERA close to 19.00 on April 12.
Those were three guys that the Crew felt they could count on in high leverage situations entering the season and at the start of the year, they simply weren’t producing.
Now, Williams’ changeup is once again looking like one of the best pitches in baseball, Yardley had a stretch of five straight games without giving up a run before an injury and Rasmussen has his ERA below 5.00 for the first time all year.
Obviously there are guys beyond these three that are major contributors in the bullpen. J.P. Feyereisen and Josh Hader look like All-Stars, Brad Boxberger has come in after starting in Appleton and shut down almost any opposing offense and southpaws Eric Lauer and Brent Suter have also looked solid to start the season.
There have been bumps along the road for some others but most of those guys are younger and inexperienced with less demanding roles. Hopefully they can follow the trend of the rest and continue to chip away at their ERA and increase their respective role.
The Brewers relievers currently have a combined ERA of 3.88 (13th in MLB), a WAR of 0.8 (15th in MLB), 10.69 K/9 (4th in MLB) and a left on-base percentage of 76.8% (6th in MLB). Back on April 16th, their bullpen ERA was 4.86 and was sixth-worst in baseball so it’s encouraging to see they’ve dropped that number down almost a full point in the last 24 days.
A shutdown bullpen has been a staple of successful Brewers teams in the last few years and it appears Craig Counsell will have an embarrassment of riches once again moving forward in 2021. From the long relief guys to the closer, each guy will play a pivotal role at some point in the season as the division and league as a whole looks to be tight with not much margin for error.
A position group that started off the season causing angst and uneasiness for the fanbase is now leaving opposing hitters frustrated and demoralized.