Before Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association stormed out of their collective bargaining meeting in early December, the Milwaukee Brewers had a pretty eventful offseason in terms of its coaching staff. Andy Haines was fired and Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson were hired as replacements. Recently, Tom Hardricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that bullpen coach Steve Karsay at decided to step down from his position.
Who Is Matt Erickson?
Matt Erickson is the current manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the Milwaukee farm system. He is a former player who appeared in four games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2004. In 11 years with three different organizations’ minor league teams, Erickson hit .300/.393/.390. He last played in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system in 2007.
The next season, 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers hired Matt Erickson to be the hitting coach of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. In 2011, he was named the manager of club, which is located in Appleton, Wisconsin, Erickson’s hometown. He has held the position ever since. Now, as Hardicourt tweeted above, he is rumored to be in consideration for the Brewers’ bullpen coach position.
Jim Henderson: Former Closer of the Milwaukee Brewers
Another name that Tom Hardicourt listed as a potential replacement for Steve Karsay is former Brewers’ closer Jim Henderson.
Jim Henderson did not have a long Major League career, pitching in just four seasons. Three of these seasons were spent with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2013, Henderson was the team’s closer. That year, he posted a 5-5 record and 28 saves while sporting a 2.70 ERA.
Unfortunately, injuries derailed Henderson’s Major League career. However, when one door closes, another opens. While on the 60-day DL with Double-A Biloxi in 2018, Henderson was named the bullpen coach of the Helena Brewers. In 2019, he was hired to be on Matt Erickson’s staff with the Timber Rattlers, serving as the team’s bullpen coach. Last season, Henderson served as the pitching coach for Triple-A Nashville.
Clearly, both candidates would be excellent options and the Brewers are high on both. It will be interesting to see if any other candidates are announced or rumored.
The Brewers’ Bullpen in 2021
Steve Karsay completed his fourth season as the Brewers’ bullpen coach in 2021. Under his guidance, Brewers’ relievers won the NL Reliever of the Year Award in each season he coached. Josh Hader won in 2018, 2019, and 2021. Devin Williams won the award in 2020. Additionally, Williams was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2020.
Other notable contributors to the bullpen’s success last season were Brent Suter, Hunter Strickland, and Jake Cousins. Suter actually led the Milwaukee Brewers in wins, posting a record of 12-5 and a 3.07 ERA. Strickland posted a career-best 1.73 ERA and 0.98 ERA. He appeared in 35 games and went 3-2. Cousins, who was a rookie last year, appeared in 30 games. He went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He became just the tenth player in history to start his career without allowing an earned run in his first 16 appearances.
Obviously, whoever takes over as the Brewers’ bullpen coach is going to have large shoes to fill. Over the past few seasons, the bullpen has been one of the Brewers’ biggest strengths. Many players, including Brad Boxberger and Hunter Strickland, are free agents and may not return. As such, the new coach will have a new crew with whom to make his mark.