The Brewers need to replace the back end of their bullpen, but the rest of the pitching staff is pretty much intact. Let’s take a look at what to expect in 2017.
The Brewer starting rotation looks to be full of familiar names, and we will get to see how they progress.
Junior Guerra had a breakout year in 2016 as a rookie. That would normally be a great thing for a rebuilding team, but Guerra is 32 this season. He led the Brewer starters with a 2.81 ERA to go with a 9-3 record. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this season.
Zach Davies, on the other hand, just turned 24, and he also is coming off a pretty good rookie campaign. He got off to a rough start, losing all three of his starts in April, but he went on to win a team-high 11 games. Davies tied Guerra with 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings and led the team with 3.55 strikeouts per walk.
Jimmy Nelson had a rough season, but he still led the Brewers in innings pitched and strikeouts. Opening Day starter Wily Peralta did so poorly, that he got sent down to AAA for a couple of months. He did come back with a solid second half, and the Brewers hope that carries over to 2017. Chase Anderson had a decent season for a 4 or 5 starter, which is right where he will start the season.
The Brewer bullpen went through a pretty big turnover with the trades of Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith, and Tyler Thornburg. Jeffress led the team with 27 saves last year and Thornburg stepped up with 13 saves after Jeffress was traded. Carlos Torres, Jacob Barnes, and Corey Knebel are the only pitchers that the Brewers still have that recorded at least one save, and they had a grand total of 5.
They signed Neftali Feliz as the main candidate for the closer position. Feliz does have closing experience, but he has not recorded more than 13 saves in a season since 2011.
The biggest need for the Brewer bullpen actually comes from their starting rotation. The Brewer starters did not do a good job going deep into games, which taxed the bullpen. If the young staff can go 6+ instead of the 5-6 that they did last year, it could have a big impact on the bullpen.
The bottom line is that the Brewer pitching staff has a very good chance of being better than they were last year. They have young arms that should be able to handle the load. If the starters can go deeper into games and the young bullpen can hold leads, the Brewers are set for a good year.