2018 Brewers Grades: Saving The Best (Relievers) For Last
What a year for the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. Going into the 2018 season, you had a feeling that this would be a strength of the Brewers due to their success in2 2017. They did not disappoint becoming one of the most feared pens in the league. The relievers had their great moments throughout the season, and the Brewers netted two All-Star relievers. That’s rather rare and impressive for Milwaukee. The future is still bright for these relievers and this bullpen.
Josh Hader – What more can you say? He was the best pitcher on the Brewers staff. Hader came into a baseball game, and it was lights out. He dominated left-handed bats only allowing one home run all year against them. If Hader got you to two strikes, it usually ended in a strikeout. He will receive some Cy Young votes in a couple weeks, and I’m definitely here for that. GRADE: A+
Jeremy Jeffress – Was his October frustrating? Yes. Did it diminish his season? Only a little bit. Other than Hader, Jeffress was the most consistent pitcher on the Brewers staff. He went from being the eighth inning guy to the closer and did it seamlessly when the Brewers needed big wins in August. He pitched in that throughout the end of the year. You just hope the playoffs don’t affect him moving forward. GRADE: A-
Corey Knebel – Unlike Jeffress, Knebel rose like a phoenix in September. This wasn’t an easy year for the 2017 All-Star. He got hurt in the first week of the season fielding a ball that kept him out for six weeks. The struggles became apparent in August when he collapsed versus San Diego. Then after a stint in the minors to fresh his brain, Knebel came back with a vengeance. He pitched tremendously down the stretch and in the postseason. Knebel will try to wrangle back the closer role. GRADE: B+
Corbin Burnes – The mini-Hader as the Brewers did it again with more criticism this time when Corbin Burnes became a reliever. The reason being is his profile was not the same as Hader. That didn’t matter. Burnes pitched wonderfully through half of the season and showcased why he’s a premier pitching talent. Burnes will be graded in the starters category next season. He has nasty stuff including that slider. GRADE: B+
Brandon Woodruff – Even though he did not spend a ton of time in the Brewers bullpen, Brandon Woodruff pitched like an animal. He showed why people had him pegged as a starter. Woody needs to be a rotation arm, but he did great in the bullpen this season as a reliever. GRADE: B
Jacob Barnes – He did nothing that wowed you as a Brewers fan, but he did a fine job out of the pen. There were times where he lost it this season and had to go back to Colorado to figure things out yet he did every time. Barnes only gave up four homers and 18 runs in his limited work. It’s actually less than some counterparts. GRADE: B-
Dan Jennings – Here’s the thing about Dan Jennings. He pitched the most of anyone on the Brewers roster then did not make any of the postseason teams. It was a little weird, right? I’m not advocating for Jennings who I thought pitched too much at times, rather, curious as to why Counsell went that way. Jennings was the Hernan Perez of pitching. That’s not a compliment. GRADE: B-
Joakim Soria – Maybe, I’m a hard grader on the new guys who came late, but what was likable about Soria’s time in Milwaukee? Like Moustakas and Schoop, he struggled to establish himself. Soria had an ERA of 4.06 and gave 10 runs in 22 innings. Soria never amounted to the shutdown seventh inning guy the Brewers hoped for but wouldn’t hate it if he returns next year. GRADE: C+
Taylor Williams – Let me say right now, I’m all for Williams having a major 2019. I think he was a little wet behind the ears hence the struggles. He could not get lefties out to save his soul, and that’s something Williams needs to work on this offseason. The young reliever showed flashes of brilliance this year though. GRADE: C
Matt Albers – The time has come for Matt Albers. Arguably, the worst player on the Brewers roster who played more than 10 games (Shouts to Mike Zagurski). Albers pitched horribly all season after a successful April. He became out of shape and consistently injured. Albers needs to drop some lbs and work his ass off this offseason. GRADE:F
That does it. I know catchers were left out but it’s not worth it for two players truly. I’ll tell you that I would have given Erik Kratz a B+ for stepping in and being much better than expected. Pina would have received a B for a hot stretch in the second half of the season. Both were great. Let’s move forward to 2019 after some hardware is hopefully passed out.