News that Devin Williams is out for the season after a bizarre injury rocked the Brewers on Tuesday. Now the bullpen that was taxed has a glaring hole in it. Here are 3 possible candidates to take over the 8th inning as Milwaukee’s quest for October glory continues.
Without Devin Williams, Craig Counsell will have to turn to other pitchers to close the door. Among the Brewers candidates: a rookie, a veteran, and a raptor.
Currently on the IL for a bicep injury, Jake Cousins is a viable candidate to take over for Devin Williams. In his rookie season Cousins has recorded a 2.70 ERA, with 13.2 K/9 in 30 innings.
Armed with one of the better sliders in the league, Cousins has an impressive Whiff% of 51.9% with it. Cousins has faced 19 batters that would qualify as “high leverage”. In that situation, Cousins has a 1.59 ERA, not allowing a hit, walked 3 batters, and struck out 9, while allowing only 1 run to cross home plate.
The high leverage situations cover 5.2 total innings (about ⅙ of his total workload), and his K/9 is second to only Hunter Strickland among pitchers on the active roster.
While Cousins has proven he is a capable reliever, he is a rookie and is inexperienced in the postseason. Additionally, he has struggled in September, allowing 7 runs in 7 innings this month. Craig Counsell has asked young players to step up before, and Cousins may the next pitcher and one of the ideal candidates asked to do just that.
Perhaps the opposite of Cousins, Boxberger is a veteran presence who has experience in the postseason and in this type of high leverage role. Boxberger has pitched well for Milwaukee this season, with a 3.41 ERA, 11.51 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9 in 63.1 Innings this season.
Boxberger has pitched a total of 17 innings that are considered high leverage. In that time, he has faced 68 total batters, allowed 9 runs to score, striking out 20, with opponents having an OPS of .689 against him.
As with Cousins, Boxberger has struggled in September, allowing 10 runs to score in 7.1 innings. Boxberger is approaching his career high in innings pitched, and it is possible the fatigue is setting in.
Brent Suter is the swiss army knife of the Brewers bullpen. He has been asked to fill a multitude of rolls, and he has succeeded. In 71 total innings this season, Suter has recorded a 3.04 ERA to go with an 8.62 K/9, and 2.79 BB/9.
One of Suter’s strengths is his ability to force ground balls, and how he doesn’t walk batters frequently. On the season, Suter has recorded 10.2 innings in high leverage situations, and faced 46 total batters. During that time, Suter has allowed 13 runs to score, and opponents have an OPS of .763.
Those numbers in high leverage may not be ideal, but Suter has been able to step up before and fit into roles when asked to.
Losing Devin Williams is a huge blow regardless of who replaces him. Instead of having what could essentially be a 7 inning game with Williams pitching the 8th and Hader locking down the 9th, the Brewers are going to have to get creative to fill the 8th inning. Fortunately, the roster construction is in such a way that the Brewers have several capable candidates to fill in.