Throughout history, the crew has never really been COMPLETELY known for their pitching. Sure, they obviously had SOME good pitchers when they made it all the way to the World Series. Yeah, they had SOME great pitching when they made their 2011 playoff run. For the most part though, it seems as if homers and strikeouts have been the Brewers' trademark. This year though, fans will be impressed with who takes the mound.
Yovani is looking to bounce back from what was just a tough 2013 in many ways for him. He has shown in the past he still has good pitches and he can still rack up strikeouts. Look for Yo to get about 14 wins and have an ERA of 3.96. This is his last guaranteed year as a Brewer. There is the possibility of a team option for 2015.
Kyle Lohse didn't have a full spring training last year because he signed late. This year he is surely glad to be in a somewhat normal routine as he enters his second campaign with the crew. He keeps it loose in the clubhouse and loves to mess with and fool rookies. His presence is definitely noticeable, and this year it's a pretty safe bet his impact will be on the mound. The crew needs a guy who can pitch deep into games and give them a chance to win. Kyle should be a durable part of the rotation, churning out 13 wins and an ERA of 4.25.
Garza. Garza. Sure sounds better than Vargas doesn't it? Money well spent. More than 50 million. With this signing, fans might even forget about Suppan! With a nice fastball and the ability to throw a no-no, Garza will certainly be a great and welcome addition to the staff. It's fair to say Garza will win some big games for the crew but he might be the guy this year who gets to be a victim of low run support. Prediction: 13 wins, and an ERA of 3.85.
Marco Estrada is probably one of the more underrated arms in the NL. He doesn't have a ton of major league service time, but he sure has had some flashes of brilliance for the crew. At a time when it seems like nobody can pitch deep in games, Estrada could come up with a brilliant seven inning performance. Of the five guys on the staff, the thought is it would almost seem like this year will be his turn to land on the DL. Marco will most likely miss a month and a half of the 2014 campaign. He finishes with 9 wins and a 3.75 ERA.
Wily Peralta is a bit of a wild card. Many have said he can be a very very impressive pitcher that can turn heads when he finally puts it all together. This season, he probably will do very well now that he has some more major league time under his belt. 11-12 wins seems like a reasonable expectation, with an ERA at about 4.05.
In the bullpen, the acquisition of Krod AGAIN is just dynamite. With the exception of 2012, which is the year the ENTIRE Brewers bullpen was garbage, Frankie has put up some decent numbers no matter what city or role he has been in. More importantly for him, he likes it in Milwaukee and he will have the opportunity to notch a few more saves. This is a great veteran "pick up" for the pen. It just has feel good written all over it.
Rapper Will Smith doesn't have to cuss to sell records. Oh wait, wrong guy... The crew got this bullpen arm for fan favorite Nori Aoki. A 24 year old who has appeared in parts of two seasons in the bigs for the Royals, Will looks to give the crew a stable lefty arm in the pen after fans have seen Manny Parra and Mike Gonzalez have less than stellar years. He will prove to be a good pickup for the crew as he catches the eye of Roenicke. What may be the most interesting is that the majority of Will's time in the minors was spent starting. This year, Will might get two starts and he will have an ERA of about 3.85 overall.
Tyler Thornburg is a guy who is a starter by trade who has found himself thrust into the bullpen for the crew as opposed to the alternative which is going down to the minors. A guy who is still less than 4 calender years removed from when the crew drafted him, he has tried to make the most of whatever the team wants him to do. Understandably he wants to be the first guy called upon when a starter goes down. He has flashes of good stuff but can also get tagged for the long ball. It's really hard to say what numbers one could expect out of Thorny this year, but it is reasonable to say he could find himself down at AAA at some point so he could stretch out to start again.
Jim Henderson. The gritty guy who toiled in the minors forever looks to come on board and pitch some crucial innings late in games this year for the crew once again. It is reasonable to expect he can continue to be an effective closer, but only for this year. After that, he will crumble into forgotten Brewers lore like so many other closers have.
Wang. How about this Wang? He "Swam to Shore" and made it with the crew. He has to stay up with the big league club all year or be offered back to the Pirates. The coaches like that he doesn't walk people. He is young and unproven and now is part of a big league bullpen which includes three lefties at this time. The club will be careful how they use him, but who knows, he could put up numbers this season that propel him to be the NEXT BOBBLEHEAD! Wang will have some tough stretches, but he will stick with the club all year and end up with a 4.58 ERA.
Zach Duke made the team. When Tom Gorzelanny comes off the dl, he could be gone if he is not effective early. Duke had a decent spring and showed some potential as a reliever last year for the Reds. The most likely scenario is that Duke doesn't stay the whole year. At some point, the crew will want to send him to the minors and he will refuse the assignment, or they could even deal him to a contending team in the even the crew is out of the race. With Figaro, Hand and Wooten among those at AAA wanting a call up, Duke won't last.
A healthy Kintzler is without a doubt one of the most underrated arms in the NL. He has had enough major league time now to show his numbers are not just a trend or a fluke. Look for Kintzler to pitch as a set up man and in some important high leverage situations. A sleeper all star pick maybe?
Next: Breaking down the IF and the Bench....