2023 Brewers ZiPS projections observation #5: Big year in store for Hoby Milner
As previously mentioned, the other reliver comparison I was interested in was Hoby Milner. The 2023 Milwaukee Brewers ZiPS projections have the lefty compared to Zach Duke. Milner was an unsung hero for the Brewers last year and is projected, rightfully so, to have a more important role on the team in 2023.
Duke did only play for the Brewers for one season back in 2014, but it was a productive one. In 2014 he had a 5-1 record and 2.45 ERA across 58.2 innings with 74 strikeouts, arguably one of the best years of his career.
FanGraphs' ZiPS projections suggest we'll get an even better version of Milner in 2023 than we got in 2022. Milner is projected to have a lower ERA in fewer appearances and fewer innings than 2022. To me, that suggests that Milner will do less long relief in the middle innings and is moving towards a more back of the bullpen role.
Is it possible that Milner steps up to the role Brad Boxberger occupied for the last two seasons? Will we see Milner more in the 7th and 8th innings as opposed to the 5th and 6th? Time will tell.
2023 Brewers ZiPS projections observation #6: Bullpen better than originally thought?
The Milwaukee Brewers infamously traded Josh Hader at last season's trade deadline and the bullpen never recovered. Now in 2023, the Brewers will no longer have Hader, Boxberger or Taylor Rogers. They have, however, retained Matt Bush and added a slew of other potential relief pitchers in the Hunter Renfroe and Esteury Ruiz deals, among other transactions.
In 2022, the Brewers had a 3.94 bullpen ERA as a team, 7th in the National League. For 2023, the FanGraphs ZiPS projections several relievers below 3.90, including Williams, Milner, Bush, and Jake Cousins.
Also consider that Milwaukee has added Bryse Wilson and Wade Miley, the former of which the Brewers told to come ready to compete for a starting spot in the rotation. That means if the Crew can stay healthy, we may see some starters play as relievers.