What The Last Two Weeks Mean For Four Relievers

Here's Frankie De La Cruz with Nyjer Morgan in September. FDLC is out of options, so if he doesn't make the team out of spring training this may be one of the last times we see him in a Brewer uniform.

Given everything that's happened in the last few weeks, the changes in the Brewer bullpen have flown somewhat under the radar. With that said, the dramatic shift that's happened out there is pretty incredible:

The change from left to right on this table happened nearly overnight:

Likely bullpen, December 1 Likely bullpen, now
John Axford John Axford
Kameron Loe Francisco Rodriguez
Manny Parra Jose Veras
Marco Estrada Kameron Loe
??? Zach Braddock
??? Manny Parra
??? Marco Estrada

That new alignment leaves a fair number of notable 2011 Brewers as odd men out. We'll discuss them alphabetically:

  • Frankie De La Cruz pitched a handful of solid innings in largely mop-up duty for the Brewers late in the season, posting a 2.77 ERA and allowing no home runs in 13 innings.
  • Tim Dillard drew more attention for his lack of use than actual use in 2011, but struck out 8.5 batters per nine (a career high at any level) in his 28.2 innings over 24 games.
  • Brandon Kintzler missed most of the season recovering from injuries, but the former indy leaguer is still only 27 and expected to be back at full strength this spring.
  • Mike McClendon spent most of the 2011 season in Nashville but has a 2.86 ERA and has struck out eight batters per nine innings in the majors, and posted a 3.53 ERA in 58.2 innings for Nashville last season.

There's still a strong chance all four of these guys get opportunities to pitch in the majors during the season, as bullpen depth will be needed at various times. With that said, Dillard and De La Cruz are both out of options and would have to pass through waivers if they don't open the season on the major league roster.

Things could still change and spots for some of these guys could open up. But their chances of making the Opening Day roster are certainly bleaker than they were a few weeks ago.

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