With struggling starters, Brewers will need to lean on relief pitching

Knebel, Hader will need to star in 2018

After his six shutout innings against the San Diego Padres, Brewers opening day starter Chase Anderson said they Brewers had enough in-house talent and didn't need to go after the big fish in free agency. 

“Obviously (Jake) Arrieta was out there, (Alex) Cobb, Lance Lynn, we were watching to see what happened," he said after his start. "But we had confidence with the guys in this clubhouse because of what we’d done in the past ... We’re all confident in all those guys and you’re going to see that this season."

Lorenzo Cain agreed with him saying, "We got a solid pitching staff. That’s what you need to get to where we want to be, and that’s the playoffs, and we have it.”

But outside of Anderson, the first week of Brewers baseball hasn't provided any inspiring starts from the remained of the rotation. 

In game two, Jhoulys Chacin, the Brewers newly acquired free agent arm, went only 3.1 innings, gave up four runs, and was left on the hook for the loss against his former Padres. 

The Brewers eventually won that game 8-6, but they can thank a mixture of Dan Jennings, Brandon Woodruff, Oliver Drake, Corey Knebel for picking up the slack on the back end. 

The quad allowed just six total baserunners in four innings of work and stymied the Padres late. 

In game three, Brent Suter provided much of the same on the starting bump. He gave up three runs in five short innings, but once they turned to the pen, it was lights out. 

Josh Hader, Matt Albers and Jacob Barnes allowed just one hit combined and struck out four to flip the script and earn a Brewers win. 

In game four, Zach Davies laid the biggest post-Easter egg of them all. In 5.2 innings, he gave up six earned—two via a home run to Cardinals pitcher Mike Mikolas—and left his team in an 8-2 deficit. 

They won't get the credit they deserve in this game, but the combined efforts of Woodruff and Drake gave up just one run over the final three frames keeping the game as close as possible after Davies' exit. 

In his opening column with the Athletic, Jasyon Stark pointed out that 1,323 more relief pitchers, on average 6.4 per game, were used last season.

Teams everywhere are turning their nose up at starting pitching and leaning on bullpens to do all the work. 

Yes, there's clearly still a need and desire to have pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. They make everyone's lives easier but for a small-market team like Milwaukee that can't afford countless big time starting pitchers, leaning on relief may be the way to go.

So, even though the starting pitcher will get announced before every game, get to learn names like Drake, Hader, Albers, Knebel, Jennings and Barnes. Those will be the guys eating up all of the innings in Milwaukee. 

And maybe Anderson and Cain were right, they do have plenty of in-house pitching talent. Except, it all might be in the bullpen. 

Print this article Back to Top