clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Winter Meetings: A wish list - Pitchers

The winter meetings are upon us. Trades, signings, and rumors abound. Will Brewers fans get an early Christmas gift? Here's my wish list.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Winter Meetings have begun and the Brewers probably don't want to walk away empty handed. Their roster is mostly complete and if the season started tomorrow technically they could field a 25-man roster. An upgrade or two from some of the current in-house options would be warmly received however.

The following, in descending order, is my wish list (though keep in mind, I'm not suggesting the Brewers need to add each one of these to the roster): High leverage reliever, rotation depth, a platoon partner for Scooter Gennett, a platoon partner for Adam Lind. The article went a little long so I thought it made sense to divide the article into two parts. We'll discuss the pitchers here and the hitters in this article.

High Leverage Reliever

I'm seeing a lot of people talking about the Brewers and lefty relievers. While they could use another left handed reliever, I'm more interested in just a solid reliever in general. Their current depth chart looks something* like this:

Jonathan Broxton
Jeremy Jeffress
Will Smith
Brandon Kintzler
Jimmy Nelson (I'm assuming Mike Fiers makes the rotation)
Rob Wooten
Michael Blazek
David Goforth
Taylor Jungmann

Broxton is a competent reliever. Jeffress was really impressive in 29 innings with the Brewers, but it remains to be seen if his new found command will stick around for a full season. Smith killed lefties but showed some pretty severe splits. You can't be a high leverage reliever if you can't get right handed hitters out. Kintzler is a personal favorite of mine, but he needs to show if he's the guy who was the best reliever in the Brewers 2013 bullpen, or the guy that struggled to keep the ball in the park in 2014. He had knee surgery so hopefully that will help. Nelson could be really good in either the rotation or the bullpen, but his still has to prove he's ready to face major league hitting. The rest on that list are best served as minor league depth.

There's risk with any bullpen but, despite the unknowns, I actually do think this has the beginnings a dominant relief corps. I would just feel more comfortable if they could add someone to support Broxton at the top of the chart, thereby sliding everyone else down a notch.

*If Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg are healthy to start the season you can add them somewhere near the top of the list. But until I hear they're healthy, I'm not counting on either at all. Henderson had shoulder surgery and before he hit the disabled list was dealing with a pretty significant drop in velocity. I'm not sure he's a major league pitcher if he can't hit 97-98 mph. Thornburg had a PRP injection in his elbow. I have no idea what that means for his future because his specific injury was never revealed.

Starting Pitching Depth

The last time the Brewers went the playoffs they used 6 starting pitchers. That's incredible. More often than not, teams end up using closer to 10 or more starters in a season. In 2012 the Brewers used 11 starters. In 2013 they used 12. Currently the Brewers starting depth chart looks something like this:

Yovani Gallardo
Kyle Lohse
Wily Peralta
Matt Garza
Mike Fiers
Jimmy Nelson
Taylor Jungmann
Michael Blazek
Brooks Hall

It's pretty strong at the top, but the drop-off after Nelson (6th on the list) is pretty steep. Jungmann has the makings of a solid innings-eater, but only has a half season experience at AAA. The later in the season his services are called upon directly correlates to my confidence in his performance. Blazek just isn't very good. Hall doesn't have any AAA experience at all yet and was hurt for most of 2014.

Will Smith is probably in the mix too, but if his severe splits continue he's just a LOOGY. I do think it's very likely Tyler Thornburg would be ahead of Jungmann but again, health is a concern.

One last thing about depth. In 2014 the Brewers used 7 starters. The last time they had 5-6 starters as effective as the 2014 crew was in 2011. I don't think it's a coincidence in that season they only used 6 starters. In 2015 as a combined unit, the top 6 starters might be the strongest top 6 they've ever had.

It's entirely possible the Brewers can get by with just 6 or 7 starters again. If that's the case, they wouldn't need to add depth at all. I'd want to hedge against any freak injury though because I desperately don't want to see Blazek/Hall caliber pitchers starting games before late September.