About three weeks ago the Brewers made a big trade with the Rays to acquire Willy Adames and Trevor Richards. The price of that trade was departing with bullpen arms J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen. This created a need for the Brewers to add a few pitchers to shore up their bullpen.
Today, among a flurry of roster moves, the Brewers acquired RHP Hunter Strickland from the Los Angels Angels. Strickland is 32 years old and a two-time World Series champion, once with the San Francisco Giants in 2014, and the other with the Washington Nationals in 2019.
The Brewers will be Strickland’s third team so far this season and seventh team in the last five years. He began the season with the Tampa Bay Rays who then traded him to the Los Angeles Angels. At the time of that trade Strickland had pitched 16 innings with Tampa and had a 1.69 ERA.
Since the trade to the Angels, he has struggled mightily. In his last 6.1 innings he has given up seven earned runs and surrendered three home runs. This led the Angels to designate him for assignment on June 7th and subsequently traded to the Brewers on June 12th.
With this trade, the Brewers are hoping to see the pitcher who was having success before with Tampa. It is a low risk, potentially high reward trade that could be very beneficial should he perform to his potential.
With the Rays, Strickland was serving in a high leverage role. For him to earn Craig Counsell’s trust and reach that type of role with this team would be the best case scenario. It would also help bridge the gap left with the departure of J.P. Feyereisen.
Strickland also brings post season experience. His postseason stats are not the greatest, but he does have experience on baseballs biggest stage and a calming veteran presence could go a long ways to assisting these young pitchers should the Brewers reach the playoffs.
In terms of pitch mix, Strickland relies heavily upon a mid 90s fastball and a slider to records his outs. He ranks in the 71st percentile in terms of fastball velocity and 65th percentile in spin rate. These are typical traits that the Brewers tend to value so on paper he should be a nice addition to this bullpen.
The timing of this trade is also crucial. With still over one month until the MLB trade deadline the Brewers will get an extended look at Strickland and can re-assess at a later date if they want to pursue any other bullpen arms. Aaron Ashby and Justin Topa are also in house candidates to help bolster this bullpen later in the season.
There is always a chance that Strickland does not pan out to be a quality arm in the Brewers bullpen. Thankfully this is about as low risk of trade as possible so we will just have to wait and see how Strickland performs.