Okay so Opening Day did not go well for the Brewers. And yes Ariel Pena had a lot to do with that. He allowed 5 hits (3 HR) and 5 runs without striking anyone out in 1.2 innings. Sure it was horrible, like literally 27.00 ERA horrible. But it was just one outing. So let's not overreact...and he's been DFA'd.
The Brewers announced after last night's game that Pena was designated for assignment in order to make room for lefty reliever Sam Freeman. Stearns acquired Freeman from the Rangers for cash considerations.
So here's what I think happened with this situation. It really was too soon to make any kind of real judgement based on his outing, horrible though it was. But with all the last minute injuries to relievers the Brewers experienced at the end of camp, there was a good chance Pena only made the pen due to dwindling options. So when the opportunity to acquire Sam Freeman arose, the Brewers decided to make the move. And after his outing, there's a good chance Pena passes through waivers unclaimed. He's been designated before which means he can opt for free agency, but I think the chances that he sticks around are pretty high.
In Sam Freeman the Brewers get something of a curiosity. He spent last season with the Rangers and the prior three with the Cardinals. Looking at just his career ERA (3.23) he looks all right. But his FIP (4.03) tells a different story. So do his peripherals. His career numbers are: 21.2 K%, 12.4 BB%, .220 BAA, 1.37 WHIP. The strike out rate is pretty average, but the BAA is nice. Unfortunately that walk rate is extremely high which results in a bad WHIP.
I noticed his career high innings pitched in a season is 38.1. Looking at his strange stat line combined with his low innings pitched totals led me to assume he's a lefty specialist. But that's not at all the case:
vs LHH - 44.2 IP, 271/397/419 slash against, 22.2 K%, 14.2 BB%, 5.40 ERA, 4.63 FIP
vs RHH -64.0 IP, 181/280/233 slash against, 20.5 K%, 11.0 BB%, 3.13 ERA, 4.05 FIP
There seem to be a lot of people that think a bullpen needs two lefties (I'm not one of them). For those people: This is not the LOOGY you're looking for. And as far as I'm concerned, that's not at all a bad thing. You know what I want from a reliever? A guy that can get batters out. I'm not convinced that Freeman is going to be adept at doing so. But looking at the numbers, whatever he is, he's better vs RHH. And there's far more right handed hitters than lefties. Which means he's not just a guy that you have to limit to one or two batters an inning. Well, unless he's just bad which is possible.
According to pitchF/X Freeman throws a fastball (93.8 mph avg) and a slider (81.1 mph). He threw a change-up 84.3 mph) while he was with the Cardinals. But didn't throw it at all last year with the Rangers.
The whole transaction was rather surprising. You don't typically see teams make moves on the second day of the season. But David Stearns has proven to be aggressive at molding the team in the image he desires. So perhaps we should expect things like this to happen. They're not losing much in Pena--and they might not lose him at all. In Sam Freeman I'm not sure they're getting much. But they are getting a guy who has proven more at the major league level than Pena has. So there's that.
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs