Recent Brewers minor league signee added to MLB roster, pitching prospect optioned

Additionally, another pitching prospect was transferred to the long-term injured list
Apr 12, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (72) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Joel Kuhnel (72) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The big Milwaukee Brewers roster news of Tuesday came when they traded for a former Cy Young winner, albeit on a minor league contract, for some rotation depth. But that wasn't the only roster move made by the team today.

The Brewers also selected the contract of pitcher Joel Kuhnel on Tuesday, adding him to both the 40-man and 26-man rosters. The move was announced at the same time as the acquisition of Dallas Keuchel from the Mariners.

The 29-year-old Kuhnel had just been signed by the Brewers on June 11th after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on May 31st. Toronto subsequently outrighted him to the minors, but he instead elected to become a free agent. After just four appearances with Milwaukee's Triple-A squad in Nashville, he's back in the majors.

Kuhnel was an 11th round draft pick of the Reds in 2016, which is where he spent parts of four major league seasons before being traded to the Astros in 2023. That's where he started this season until he was DFA'd by both them and the Blue Jays. For his MLB career, Kuhnel has a 6.30 ERA in 85.2 innings, all out of the bullpen.

Per Baseball Savant, Kuhnel has a four-pitch mix that includes a four-seamer, slider, sinker, and changeup, though in 2024 he has largely gravitated toward the first two of those pitches. Those pitches average about 94 mph and 88 mph, respectively. And while his career MLB numbers haven't opened many eyes, he has pitched well at Triple-A in 2024 across three organizations with a 2.52 ERA over 25 innings.

To make room on the active roster, rookie Carlos Rodriguez was optioned back to Nashville. The Crew's second best, non-injured pitching prospect had been doing well as of late in Triple-A but struggled in MLB three starts, putting up a 7.30 ERA in 12.1 innings over three starts and giving up a .365 average to opposing batters.

And to make room for Kuhnel on the 40-man roster, fellow rookie pitcher Robert Gasser was transferred from the 15-day IL to the 60-day. This move was always likely once it was announced that he would be undergoing Tommy John surgery and would be out until next year.

The Brewers have worked wonders with some unheralded pitchers in 2024 and will look to do so once again with Kuhnel. The moves do, however, leave Milwaukee with questions about who will fill in for what would have been Rodriguez's next start.

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