The MLB trade deadline is rapidly approaching for the Brewers and deals around the league will soon begin. Relief pitchers are always a hot commodity as teams commonly look to bolster their bullpens if they are in contention to make the playoffs.
Even the Milwaukee Brewers, who possess one of the best closers in the game in Josh Hader and reigning NL Rookie and Reliever of the Year Devin Williams, will be looking to add bullpen arms. One team can never have enough pitching, especially given the amount of injuries this season with Devin Williams most recently being placed on the IL.
In the Brewers case, since trading away J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen earlier in the season, improving bullpen depth was viewed as a need. Even though unlikely players in Jake Cousins, Miguel Sanchez, and Hunter Strickland have all stepped up, we do not know how long their success will last.
In this article I am going to look at two under the radar relief pitchers that the Milwaukee Brewers could target at the trade deadline.
In case you were wondering, Craig Kimbrel and Daniel Hudson are both very much NOT under the radar.
1) RHP Ian Kennedy
At 36 years old, this former starter converted reliever is finding success in the bullpen. Kennedy has 15 saves with the Rangers this season and possess as 2.67 ERA. He is a pending free agent after this season and currently has just a $2.15MM base salary.
As for his stuff, Kennedy is a high spin rate guy and relies heavily upon his fastball. Although it typically only clocks in at the low to mid 90s, he has the ability to mix in a changeup, curve, or cutter as well. The Rangers are well out of contention and the Brewers may not have to give up much to acquire him.
2) RHP Kendall Graveman
After missing most of 2018 and 2019 due to TJS and the limited sample size of 2020, Graveman is making a name for himself this season in the Mariners bullpen. To date he has racked up eight saves but more impressively his ERA sits at 0.93 in 29 innings of work. He, too, is a pending free agent at seasons end.
At 30 years old Graveman can still bring the heat. His high 90s fastball works well with his high 80s slider and changeup. Oddly he is not striking out a ton of batters this year and his xFIP is 3.03, suggesting he’s been a tad bit lucky so far this year. Despite the Brewers-Mariners trade history, the Mariners are currently in contention for the wild card, so stealing Graveman away might be tricky.
Both of these veteran players would be under the radar acquisitions should the Brewers acquire either of them.
However this year Stearns has not been hesitant to bring in veterans with high leverage experience (Boxberger, Strickland) to build his bullpen, so I would not be surprised to see either of them in a Brewers uniform by the time July 30th rolls around.