Starting pitching depth is a glaring need for the Milwaukee Brewers this winter. David Stearns recognizes that, saying recently that his club will need to add “multiple arms” to their roster before the start of Spring Training. The club is apparently filling one of those vacancies with right-hander Josh Lindblom, who spent the last three seasons pitching in Korea:
Brewers are working to try to sign Josh Lindblom. Reliever was big star in Korea and is returning.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2019
Josh Lindblom’s contract with Milwaukee will be for three years and guarantee $9.125 million, according to a source. With performance bonuses, it can max out at more than $18 million.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019
Lindblom, 32, originally began his career as a second-round pick of the Dodgers back in 2008. He made his big league debut with Los Angeles in 2011 and spent parts of 2011-2014 and then 2017 in the majors with the Dodgers, Phillies, A’s, Rangers, and Pirates. He experienced some early success in LA as a reliever, but wound up becoming more of an up-and-down arm as he bounced around the league. All together, he’s appeared in 114 games (six starts) in The Show, logging 147.0 innings with a 4.10 ERA (97 ERA+) and 8.0 K/9 versus 3.7 BB/9.
Lindblom has actually had two seperate stints in Korea, first heading overseas for the 2015 season and landing with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. He was terrific during his first season, pitching to a 3.56 ERA in 210.0 innings, but he backed up in 2016, finishing with a 5.28 earned run average across 177.1 frames. He briefly came back to the States in 2017, scoring a contract with the Pirates. But after allowing nine earned runs in 10.1 MLB innings with Pittsburgh to go along with a 4.06 ERA in 17 games in Triple-A, he was granted his release in June in order to pursue another contract out East.
He landed back with Lotte, and in 12 starts in the hitter-friendly league, he authored a 3.72 ERA in 72.2 innings. That preceded a two-year stint with the Doosan Bears, where Lindblom really took off. He won the league’s equivalent of the Cy Young award as the top pitcher in 2018, posting a 2.88 ERA in 168.2 innings while punching out 157 batters against only 38 free passes. He continued that success in 2019, finishing with a sparkling 2.50 ERA while leading the circuit with 194.2 innings and a 0.997 WHIP. His control took even another step forward, as he struck out 8.7 batters per nine while issuing only 1.3 BB/9. He was the league’s equivalent MVP and Cy Young winner in 2019.
Congrats to alum @JoshLindblom52 on being named the MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization. He also won the KBO's Cy Young equivalent.— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) November 25, 2019
Josh earned 79 first-place votes. He was the KBO's only 20-game winner this year & also led the league with 189 Ks. #BoilerUp https://t.co/BBbKQ063kz pic.twitter.com/5QQCsQBGuf
According to Fangraphs, Lindblom pitches in the low-90s with his fastball and the pitch reportedly has a high spin rate. He has also developed an above-average splitter, a serviceable slider/cutter, and a loopy, low-70s curveball. Lindblom reportedly relies quite heavily on his offspeed stuff and his splitter and cutter make him especially tough on lefties. Fangraphs liked him better as a long-relief type to work his way through a lineup once, but it’s more likely that he begins his impending tenure with the Cream City Nine while working from the rotation.
No, that was my mistake. The Brewers indeed plan to use Josh Lindblom as a starter. https://t.co/UJf6YgTwsv— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 11, 2019
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference