3 underrated bullpen pickups who have made a difference for the Brewers

These three arms have been huge for Milwaukee through the first half of 2024.
Jun 11, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Jared Koenig (47) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Jared Koenig (47) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports / Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers currently sit first in the National League Central, with a record of 46-33 through their first 79 games. As we approach the halfway point, it's safe to say the Brewers have established themselves as a contender. But when you look at their roster, many ask "how are they doing this?"

The answer to that question is a multitude of reasons, but one of the main factors has been the bullpen. To make that even more outstanding, the Brewers starting pitchers have pitched the least amount of innings in all of baseball.

When the Brewers lost their closer, Devin Williams, in spring training, nobody had high expectations for the backend of the bullpen. But the Brewers have received unimaginable production from players who were unknown coming into 2024. Here are three Brewers relievers who have exceeded expectations through the first half of the season.

1. LHP Bryan Hudson

Bryan Hudson came into 2024 with a chip on his shoulder. The Brewers acquired him from the Dodgers following his DFA, in exchange for Justin Chambers. Hudson wasn't given a real chance in Los Angeles and following the signing of Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, there was no room on the roster for him.

The saying "one man's trash can be another's treasure," couldn't be more true in this scenario. Hudson is having an All-Star caliber season for the Brewers, pitching to the tune of a 0.86 ERA through 27 games and 42 innings pitched. And his Baseball Savant page is an absolute joke. Just to rattle off a few metrics, Hudson is in the 98th percentile of "pitching run value", 99th percentile of "fastball run value", 97th percentile of xERA, 95th percentile of xBA, 98th percentile in pitcher extension off the mound, and 92nd percentile in strikeout percentage at 31.4%.

Sorry for flooding everyone's brains with metrics, but the general point should be clear. Hudson is having a special season, and the numbers back it up. It will be fun to watch him in more high leverage situations down the stretch, but until then, expect Murphy to continue making sure he is well rested. Terrifying enough for the league, the best of Bryan Hudson still might be yet to come.

2. RHP Trevor Megill

Anyone who came into 2024 with Trevor Megill as the every-day closer on their bingo card, consider yourself bold, but a victor. The tall righty has blossomed into something special in the Brewers organization, and with Devin Williams injured, he's become the closer for the time being.

In April 2023, the Minnesota Twins traded Megill to the Brewers for a player to be named later and cash. Milwaukee obviously saw something in him, but to say they saw this would feel a bit extreme. In 26 games this season, Megill holds a 1.85 ERA while obtaining 16 saves. On Opening Day this year, the Brewers were planning on using a "closer by committee" until Devin Williams returned from the Injured List. But it only took about a month until Megill firmly won the job, and since then he's been great in maintaining the closer role through the first half of 2024.

Megill relies heavily on the use of two pitches, a four-seamer and a knuckle curve, both of which have been really good for the most part of the season. Megill's fastball comes in on average at 98.8 MPH, but you can often see it go north of 100 MPH. He throws this pitch just under 70% of the time, and hitters are batting only .214 against it.

Megill's knuckle curveball is absolutely disgusting when commanded well. It comes in at about 87.9 MPH, which often leaves hitters frozen at the plate after seeing 100 MPH on the fastball. Batters have just a .140 weighted On-Base-Average (wOBA) against his knuckle curve, so when he throws it for a strikeout, it's extremely difficult to hit. When Williams comes back, it will be fun to see how Pat Murphy goes about the situation, with Megill continuing to deal.

3. RHP Jared Koenig

Jared Koenig has come out of nowhere in 2024 and emerged as one of the more trusted arms in Pat Murphy's bullpen. Koenig has provided the Brewers with a pitching run value in the 95th percentile this season and has been used in a number of roles.

In November, the Brewers signed Koenig to a minor league contract and it was not long to begin 2024 before he turned that into a major league one. After a couple stints at Triple-A Nashville early in the season, Koenig has come on as of late and avoided being sent back down to the minors.

When Koenig was first brought to the Brewers organization, he was throwing 94/95 MPH sinkers consistently. But last night against the Rangers, he was consistently topping out at 97/98 MPH, which is significant compared to early career stats. This is a guy who seems to understand now more than ever what he needs to do to be successful.

In 2024, Koenig has an ERA of 1.77 through 35.2 innings pitched. He has also shown his versatility, being used as an opener five times this season. Koenig has been incredibly impressive and has taken full advantage of this opportunity with the Brewers organization. It took a long time for the thirty-year-old to break through, but he seems to have found a home in Milwaukee.

The health throughout the organization has provided a number of pitchers with new opportunities in 2024, and these three have taken full advantage. A number of other relievers have also been solid including the likes of Hoby Milner, Enoli Paredes, and Elvis Peguero. It has been a full group effort in the first half, and with the Brewers hopefully getting healthier soon, it will be fun to watch this group down the stretch.