Brewers: 3 Pitchers Who Could Lose Their Spot When Rosters Drop to 26
By Matt Carroll
After this upcoming weekend, the Milwaukee Brewers will have a couple tough decisions to make. It’s a choice that the rest of the teams across the league will have to make as well.
Because of the expedited spring that teams had to go through due to this offseason’s MLB lockout, teams were allowed to expand their active rosters from 26 to 28 throughout the month of April. With no maximum roster requirements for pitchers during this time, the Brewers carried 15 pitchers and 13 hitters.
Originally, it was expected that with the return to the 26-man roster in May, the 13-pitcher max would return as well. However, yesterday we learned that the latter rule would be pushed out for roughly another month.
So, even though the Brewers won’t have to trim their roster down two pitchers as originally expected, they’re going to have to cut down by at least one to reach that 14-pitcher max. Which pitcher (or two) could end up being the ones to be cut?
Here are three Brewers pitchers who could lose their spot when rosters drop down to 26 next month.
1. RHP Jake Cousins
Coming into the 2022 season, many expected Jake Cousins to be right in the mix for high-leverage work at the back of the Brewers bullpen. Coming off a rookie season in which he had a 2.70 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and 13.2 K/9 through 30 innings, that was an assumption that made sense.
Cousins has, in fact, gotten some high-leverage work in for Milwaukee early this year, but the results haven’t been quite as pretty. The righty has given up four runs in six innings already this season and currently leads the league with four wild pitches. He’s also being barreled nearly twice as much as last year (6.9% in 2021 versus 12.5% in 2022).
Reigning in his frisbee-like slider could be the key. At times it looks like he doesn’t quite have control of it, while at others it’s giving up too many hits, with batters hitting .333 off of it so far. Cousins will still be a key part of the bullpen in 2022, but the Brewers may decide he needs a quick stop at Triple-A when rosters shrink just to quickly get things back in order.
2. RHP Jandel Gustave
Fellow righty reliever Jandel Gustave was a bit of a tough one to evaluate after 2021. His initial numbers looked pretty good at a 3.44 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. But they came in just 18.1 innings that saw him strike out just 6.4 batters per nine innings. He also rarely pitched in high-leverage situations.
Gustave was among a mix of several finalists to make the team’s initial 28-man roster to begin the 2022 season. With the Brewers opting to carry 15 pitchers for Opening Day, he just barely ended up being one of the relievers to sneak his way on.
Like Cousins, Gustave has seen his numbers dip in the early goings of 2022, putting up a 4.76 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP through 5.2 innings while seeing his BB/9 rise year-over-year from 2.5 to 4.8. He was already likely to be one of the relievers to shuttle between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville in 2022 and he could make his first trip to Tennessee next week.
3. LHP Hoby Milner
The third spot on this list is a hard to peg down. And for now, Hoby Milner lands here but certainly not as any sort of indictment on how he’s pitched so far this season.
After securing one of the final bullpen spots similarly to Gustave, Milner has been very solid in his small sample size in 2022. Through five innings, the southpaw has given up just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out a trio of batters.
While fellow left Brent Suter has worse numbers so far this season (5.1 IP, 6.75 ERA), it would be a surprise to see the Brewers demote him despite his remaining minor league option. Jose Urena (7.2 IP, 3.52 ERA) has been shaky as well, but has no options of his own. So, even though Milner certainly hasn’t played his way off the roster, it just depends where he sits on the team’s totem pole.
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In the end, it won’t matter much who ends up getting optioned as all of these pitchers have a good chance of rotating with each other between Triple-A and the big leagues.