After the Brewers traded J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen to acquire Willy Adames and plug the hole at shortstop, President of baseball operations David Stearns ended up creating a completely new hole, the bullpen.
The Brewers came into the season with loads of high-leverage bullpen arms, led by Josh Hader and Devin Williams and supplemented by a group of Feyereisen, Rasmussen, and Justin Topa. Two members of that supplemental group have been traded and Topa is missing the first half of the season due to injury.
Outside of the top two options, the Brewers are relying on Brad Boxberger to play a key role, Brent Suter to take on a bigger role, and a combination of Eric Yardley, Angel Perdomo, and the recently acquired Trevor Richards. Yardley is not what he was last year, and Perdomo and Richards are clearly ‘B’ group bullpen arms.
The Brewers ‘A’ group, the group that comes in to hold down a lead, is considerably lacking in depth. It’s down to three arms; Hader, Williams, and Boxberger.
What is clear is that this is a hole on the roster that needs to be addressed. However, we’re still two months away from the Trade Deadline and the Brewers front office may not be able to make any big outside additions to this group until July. So who can possibly fill the hole in the meantime?
There are a few options down in Triple-A Nashville to give a shot to.
1. Miguel Sanchez
Miguel Sanchez impressed during spring training this year in eight strong innings with 11 strikeouts. He has been in the Triple-A bullpen this season and has gotten off to a good start. Through eight appearances and 12.1 IP, Sanchez has a 2.92 ERA with 14 strikeouts and a .200 batting average against.
Sanchez is 27 years old and was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, so he is older as far as international prospects go, but he’s showing that he’s ready for the next level.
Sanchez is not on the 40 man roster, but there are currently two open spots so he’s a possibility.
2. Quintin Torres-Costa
Torres-Costa was a dominant force in the Brewers minor league system in 2018 as he seemed to be fast-tracking himself to the big leagues with a 1.31 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A.
Then he suffered an elbow injury and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Most of the 2019 minor league season was lost for Torres-Costa, but he made a few rehab outings late in the year and did well. Then the 2020 minor league season was cancelled and Torres-Costa did not get an invite to the Alternate Training Site.
Now in 2021, Torres-Costa is proving he belongs in the future bullpen plans for the Brewers with a 3.86 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 9.1 IP in Triple-A. He would also need to be given an available 40 man roster spot.
3. Nathan Kirby
The 40th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Nathan Kirby has faced a bumpy road. After a distinguished college career in which he helped the University of Virginia win the College World Series, Kirby has faced setback after setback as a professional.
Kirby had to undergo Tommy John Surgery in 2015 after just 12.2 IP with the Brewers A-level affiliate. He faced setbacks in that recovery and didn’t pitch in an official game again until 2018.
In 2018, in High-A Carolina, Kirby split time between the rotation and the bullpen, finishing with 71 IP and a 4.82 ERA.
Then he lost his 2019 season to thoracic outlet surgery, and in his recovery from that, he suffered a broken rib.
Now he’s 27 years old and finally healthy. He’s in Double-A Biloxi at the moment, and in eight games so far, he has a 2.35 ERA with eight strikeouts. He has given up five walks, which is concerning, but he is a high potential arm that could be a late-bloomer.
Kirby is a talented pitcher, and there was a reason he was one of the top 40 players in that 2015 draft. Now that he’s healthy, perhaps he can take advantage of an opportunity with the Brewers if one gets presented to him.
The Brewers are thin on big league bullpen options, and there isn’t too much down in the minors to deepen that group. These are the few options they have.