Brewers: State of the Bullpen Following Multiple Trades Involving Relievers

On August 1, 2022 the first place Milwaukee Brewers shockingly traded super-star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres. The trade came after years of endless rumors, in which finally the Brewers received an offer that met their expectations in that it helps today’s current team as well as the future.

Major league pitching talent coming to Milwaukee through the trade includes left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers and right-hander Dinelson Lamet. Rogers currently has 28 saves on the season, which is the second most in the National League trailing only Hader himself. Lamet finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2020, but has since dealt with injury and has been pushed into a bullpen role.

The Brewers also swung another deal in which they acquired right-hander Matt Bush from the Texas Rangers. At 36 years old Bush can pump high 90’s gas, a low to mid 90s cutter, and curveball. As a power pitcher he should fit in nicely and he excels at striking batters out.

With Josh Hader departing and Rogers, Lamet, and Bush arriving, what is the current state of the Brewers bullpen?  

Who might close out games

With Hader gone, the Brewers will have to look to someone else to close out games. Devin Williams is a perfect six-for-six in saves this year and has currently thrown 30 consecutive scoreless outings. In-the-mix with Williams includes Brad Boxberger and perhaps either one of the new additions in Taylor Rogers, Matt Bush, or Jake McGee.

Between Boxberger, Rogers, and McGee they have saved a combined 239 career games. Between any of these veterans and Williams, manager Craig Counsell should have options on any given night to send out a pitcher who has closing experience.

The middle to seventh inning ‘bridge to the closer’ pitchers

This year Hoby Milner and Trevor Gott have received a lot of work in close games during the middle innings. Milner’s ERA recently rose from 1.89 to 3.00 over his last two appearances due to surrendering five earned runs, but otherwise he has been great at leaving inherited runners on base.

Gott began the year strong as he allowed runs in just one of his first 11 appearances.  Unfortunately did not have a strong month of July as in 10 games his ERA was 6.97. This has raised his season ERA to 4.59. However, his advanced stats show that he has been a bit unlucky as his xFIP is 2.94 and he is among the top percentiles in several advanced pitching metrics this year.

It is possible that the Brewers initially give Bush or Lamet some looks in the middle innings of ball games. They also could turn to a few pitchers who are on the mend in Luis Perdomo, Justin Topa, or Jake Cousins. All of these players could return and pitch for the Brewers this season.

Final Thoughts

Despite Hader’s recent struggles, replacing a light outs closer is a near impossible task. However, the Brewers bullpen is still in good shape. They currently have a lot of veterans with closing experience, a young proven star in Devin Williams, and plenty of options to fill the middle innings including both new acquisitions in Bush and Lamet.

Overall, the Brewers bullpen remains in great shape.  While they lost an elite talent in Hader, the depth has increased through multiple trades.