On a warm day in July, Wisconsin native JP Feyereisen received some bad news. David Stearns and Craig Counsell told him he was going to have to make his Major League debut in front of an empty stadium.
He was going to the show. It was the kind of bad news he could live with.
Since then, the 28 year old RHP from River Falls has been a serious contender for a place in the Brewers bullpen. And that is no mean feat. The crew’s pen is probably its most reliable asset – one of the best in the National League – but solid performances at the end of the 2020 season and in Spring Training have indicated he’s a natural fit.
So why should we be so excited?
Learning the Ropes.
His road to the show started seven years ago. As a 21 year old fresh out of college, he was drafted by Cleveland in 2014 as a 16th round pick. In that first year playing single A ball in the Pennsylvania & Carolina leagues, he played 61 games, pitching 64.2 innings, totalling 80 Ks at an ERA of 2.64.
The move up to AA and the Eastern league saw a debut for the Akron RubberDucks. He contributed considerably to a championship winning side pitching 40.1 innings with 56 Ks and a 2.23 ERA. But before he could get that ring he was traded to the Yankees. And just like that he was playing for Trenton Thunder, ironically losing to the RubberDucks in that 2016 championship final.
Continued success at AA turned into appearances at Yankees AAA affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Over the next three years he clocked up 195 Ks from 164 IP. Clearly the step up was only a matter of time.
After a six year apprenticeship, honing his craft and with Sabermetrics all headed in the right direction, he was knocking on the door of the Majors.
And then the Brewers called….
The Tools for the Job.
He has a three pitch arsenal – a four seam fast ball, a changeup and a slider. Pitch velocity ranges from vFA 93.8 mph to vSL 84.5mph. The preferred weapon of choice is the four seam FB which constitutes 54% of all pitches thrown. The slider is used 28% of the time and the changeup at 18%. It’s a nice variation that keeps the batter wondering.
It is exciting to see the results of this pitching manifest during spring training. Having faced 28 batters, pitched 8.2 IP with 15 Ks and 1.04 ERA things are looking good. Compliment those stats with just a single hit so far against Seattle and we have something to be excited about.
ZIPs predict around 50 IP per season and with arb eligibility not until 2024, he provides some real long term value.
Mental Strength & A Winning Attitude
On 24th July 2020 JP made his major league debut for the crew. For any player it’s a nervous and maybe even terrifying thing. It’s a different level to make that debut against your biggest rivals at Wrigley Field. Pitching to Ian Happ, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javi Baez, this could truly be described as a baptism of fire.
But after dispatching Happ at second, punching Kris Bryant’s ticket for his first major league strikeout and removing Baez with a ground out to short, it became clear that mental strength and focus is in good supply.
When asked recently what his ambitions are for 2021 with the Brewers, the answer given was simple. It is not just to do well, to compete, to do his very best.
It is to win a ring. And that’s the mentality we need to win a world series.
The Wisconsin Factor
Some things cannot be measured. But that does not mean they do not exist.
And their effect can be incalculable.
All Wisconsin sports fans know about this. The roar of the crowd, that brief, ephemeral moment when the connection between player and supporter is almost tangible. This is the Wis factor, the wind beneath the wings that enables a player to perform above and beyond expectations. And it is at its potent best when the player in question is one of our own. This will undoubtedly lift him above the level of his already impressive stats.
And with crowds being gradually allowed back into stadiums this year, the effect will be magnified exponentially.
Every player has their time and for Jonathon Paul Feyereisen that time is now. He represents an exciting addition to a Brewers bullpen that is already overflowing with talent and I’m eager to see what he can deliver in 2021.
With the tools to do the job, a strong work ethic and the mental strength required to play at the very highest level, he’s going to fit in just fine.
And after that cruel twist of fate that denied him a championship in the minors, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the city of Milwaukee could place a world series ring on the finger of one of her own?
That would be a beautiful thing.
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