There were plenty of spots up for grabs in the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen heading into the 2022 season. One reliever who broke out in 2021, however, appeared to be relatively safe coming into this year.
Jake Cousins, who was a rookie for the 2021 Brewers squad, was one of the team’s most important bullpen arms down the stretch last year. In 30 games, he pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP with an impressive 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Though Cousins would be roughed up a bit this spring – he gave up five runs in just 4.2 innings pitched – he would still make his first career Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, the struggles would continue into the regular season.
Appearing in eight games in April, Cousins gave up four runs on eight hits, five walks, and four wild pitches in eight innings pitched. He was still striking out a fair number of batters at a rate of 14.6 K/9, but with rosters needing to be pared down starting in May, his spot in the bullpen was in jeopardy.
As it would turn out, Cousins would in fact be removed from the roster at the beginning of May but for a different reason. On May 1st, the righty would land on the injured list with right elbow effusion.
The hope was that Cousins would require a relatively minimal stay on the injured list and be back throwing frisbee sliders for the Crew in no time. Then last Saturday, we learned from MLB.com’s Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy that the absence could potentially be much longer.
UCL injuries very often translate to season-enders for the pitchers who suffer them, so there was quite a bit riding on that second opinion. The results of it came back Tuesday and apparently it led to more optimism for Cousins and the team.
There is now a chance that Jake Cousins could pitch again for the Brewers in 2022.
Reporters were able to speak with Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell before the game on Tuesday and ask about Cousins. According to the skipper, Cousins will attempt to work with his way through the surgery by rehabbing instead of electing to have surgery.
A six-to-eight-week timeframe means that Cousins would be rehabbing until late June at the absolute earliest. Realistically, fans probably won’t see him back in the Brewers bullpen until July, and that’s if all goes well.
And hopefully that’s exactly what happens because the Brewers could use a healthy Cousins back in the bullpen. That’s not to say that the back end of the pen hasn’t been good as Josh Hader, Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and a surprise in Trevor Gott have put forth solid-to-stellar performances so far in 2022.
Past that, things have looked less consistent, though. The other eight players who have thrown pitches in relief (yes, one of those is position player Mike Brosseau) have combined for a 4.43 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 61 innings while also giving up seven home runs.
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If the Brewers can truly get Jake Cousins back to healthy through just rehab, that will be great news for the team’s bullpen this season, because we all saw just how nasty he could be last season and would gladly take it again later this year.