The Brewers have been slowly but surely rebuilding the roster for the 2023 season. Several faces that fans are used to seeing won’t be wearing Brewers pinstripes, and the bullpen is looking pretty empty.
Sure, the team has some time before the 2023 season really begins, but I feel like they’re moving too slow. The Brewers need to really focus on one thing this offseason: Left-handed pitching.
WANTED: Left-Handed Pitchers
The only man on the 40-man roster that’s a lefty is Hoby Milner. Milner offered a lot of reliability in 2022, but him being the only left-handed pitcher leaves the Brewers with no other options.
Josh Hader, Brent Suter, and Taylor Rogers are all gone, so those options are off the table. With Aaron Ashby moved into the rotation, by process of elimination, Milner is the last man standing.
The Brewers have been able to add some arms in Javy Guerra, Abner Uribe, Janson Junk, Elvis Peguero, and Tyson Miller. While all of these options are great, they’re all right-handed.
With both Taylor Rogers and Brad Boxberger gone, it opens up the setup man role for Milwaukee. There are options available on our roster like Matt Bush, Peter Strzlecki, and Jake Cousins, but the Brewers need to have a solid back to make the bullpen promising.
The bullpen would probably be at a more secure and confident place if they had the left-handed options, but they just don’t. Exploring the free agent market, there really aren’t a lot of options that the Brewers can choose from. But the options that are available, aren’t horrible considerations for Milwaukee.
Option 1: Andrew Chafin
I’m quite surprised that Andrew Chafin hasn’t been picked up by a team yet. Chafin signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers last year, but chose to opt out of his second year and enter the free agent market.
Chafin is coming off of a pretty successful season with the Tigers. In 64 games as a relief pitcher, he recorded an ERA of 2.83 with 67 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.169. Chafin’s fairly low ERA would offer a good option in the Brewers’ bullpen at American Family Field. His fastball isn’t the most impressive, but his 10.52 K/9 rate in 2022, strong sinker and slider has given him a lot of success on the mound.
The left-handed free agent would offer a strong back in the bullpen. He’s more of a late-inning kind of guy that can work to set up for the closer. Even if it’s just for a one-year option, signing him for fairly ‘cheap’ could be what the Brewers are missing. Having Chafin available in addition to Cousins, Bush, and even Hoby Milner will be great for Counsell’s relief crew.
Option 2: Matt Moore
A solid option, Matt Moore was a huge contributor to the Texas Rangers in 2022. Taking on a fulltime role, Moore went 5-2 with an ERA of 1.95 in 63 games. He had five saves in six opportunities, threw 74 innings, giving up 49 hits, three home runs, 20 runs (16 of those earned), and walked 38. He did strike out 83, however.
Moore is better against right-handed hitters in comparison to lefties. Righties slashed .165/.282/.255 against Moore while lefties slashed .243/.310/.324. A positive thing about Moore is that he’s able to handle both sides of the plate and while he has better success against righties, he’ll be able to take down the lefties as well.
Moore’s history doesn’t really make him an ideal candidate on the mound, but based on his breakout year with the Rangers alone, Milwaukee should take a chance with him. Signing him would be fairly easy, seeing as he signed a $2.5MM minor league deal and his new club, wherever that might be, would really only cost them about a million and some change.
Option 3: Michael Fulmer
At one point in his career, Michael Fulmer was showing signs of an all-star player. In 2016, Fulmer won the AL Rookie of the Year Award after he posted a 3.08 ERA in 26 starts for the Detroit Tigers. He would go on to be an all-star in 2017. However, injuries and inconsistency would land him in the bullpen for the 2021 season. Fulmer was determined to turn his career around in 2022, and he did just that.
Between the Tigers and the Minnesota Twins, Fulmer posted an ERA of 3.39 in 67 appearances while also holding a 3.57 FIP and a 113 ERA+. His walk rate did spike this year, walking 4.0 per nine, which was up from the 2.6/9 in 2021 and his career 2.7/9. This is something that would need improvement if he wanted to be a reliable arm for the Brewers, but there is something about the Brewers’ pitching lab that brings a level of magic to pitchers.
All of these options are viable options for the Brewers. The only concern is how much money they’re willing to spend in the free agent market to bring a name like Chafin or Moore to Milwaukee. Bring any of these three options to the bullpen and you have a recipe for success late in the game.