Brewers: Bullpen Depth Being Tested in the Final Weeks
By Josh Waldoch
Despite the Brewers strong starting outings from Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, and Adrian Houser they left the series against the Cardinals winless, and seemingly out of gas as the regular season winds down. The bullpen, which has been a strong point, has been tested as of late the long season takes its toll .
Brad Boxberger has been one of the best stories of the season. As a minor league signing who did not break camp with the team, Boxberger quickly rose to becoming a key cog bridging the gap between the starting rotation and the back end of the bullpen.
The recent rough patch the Brewers have experienced can be in part traced back to a bullpen that seems tired and running on fumes as of late.
Boxberger’s season stats are still solid, with a strong 3.47 ERA and a 11.55 K/9. However, he has struggled as the month turned to September, allowing 10 earned runs this month, and recording a 17.36 ERA in his 4.2 innings. Boxberger has thrown 62.1 innings on the season, his most since 2015, and getting close to his career high of 64.2 innings in 2014. If he gets to a career high mark will depend on bullpen usage in the final week; however, he still has thrown more as of late.
In addition to Boxberger’s struggles as of late, Jake Cousins has also had his lows this month, recording a 4.76 ERA in the month of September, and was tagged with three runs on Thursday’s matinee loss to St. Louis.
Devin Williams Injury Watch
Many were confused why Devin Williams was not in the bullpen and not available, and Craig Counsell shared why, revealing Williams has been battling a calf injury as of late.
Williams has not pitched since September 18th, and it seems like the Brewers will likely be very conservative with his usage to ensure he is at full health for the postseason. But with Williams on the shelf, and Boxberger struggling, the transition to Josh Hader suddenly becomes much thinner.
Aaron Ashby has been sharp as of late, and it may fall on him to carry the load as the rest of the bullpen recovers.
It’s a long season, fatigue happens, and guys also have rough days. Craig Counsell has worked well with Chris Hook and Steve Karsay to effectively manage the bullpen across the season and make sure the pitchers have not been overworked, but this recent stretch has pushed the team.
Getting back to full health and strength will be crucial to the deep October run the Brewers are envisioning. The past week has shown that the bullpen is a crucial part of the success the Brewers have had this season.
The bullpen has been short on depth for most of the season, and it didn’t help that the midseason acquisitions of Daniel Norris and John Curtiss haven’t worked out as planned. This depth is once again being tested.