The Brewers bullpen is currently 10th in the MLB in ERA with a 4.12 in 356 innings. However, it definitely doesn’t feel like they’re among the top third. I’m sure having a top ten ERA is largely because of All-Star closer, Josh Hader, who has a 2.16 ERA in 31 games. With the second half of the season about to begin in a week or two, the Brewers need some bullpen help if they want to stick with the Cubs in the NL Central. The good thing, the Brewers may not have to look any further than their own minor league system for bullpen help. Below is a list of 6 players I think could help the Brewers’ bullpen, even if it’s just a small role.
Supak is a giant 6’5” 240 pound righty who screams promise every time he menacingly steps on the mound. He is a 23-year-old starting pitcher who has been dominating AA ball all season. Currently, Supak has pitched 109 innings and has a 2.23 ERA with 69 strikeouts. He is able to throw a fastball, change up, slider, and curve all for strikes at a really funky angle. Trey Supak could help the Brewers by being a reliable middle relief pitcher who can go as many innings as needed. Also, if things on the mound go well, Supak can step in and make a few starts. This could put a struggling pitcher like Jhoulys Chacin in the bullpen to find his groove. Supak is the 11th ranked prospect in the Brewers farm system according to MLB.com and he could be of use as the playoff race gets tighter.
Aaron Ashby is the pitcher with the best “stuff” of this group. He has a curveball that he throws in the mid 90s that’s truly nasty. He can change speeds with that pitch and locate it as well as he does his above average fastball. With a very unique delivery, Ashby has proved in the minor leagues, that he’s a tough pitcher to face. So far in the minors, as a starter, he has pitched 85 innings and struck out 103 batters. He also has a very good 3.18 ERA. Ashby is a 6’2” lefty who is Milwaukee’s 9th ranked prospect according to MLB.com. He’s only 21-years-old but he already looks like someone who could help the Brewers pitching staff this season.
Clayton Andrews may be the most exciting Brewer prospect to watch. Andrews is a 5’6” 22-year-old lefty reliever for Milwaukee’s A+ team. So far this season, Andrews has pitched 28 innings and struck out 44 batters. The lefty also has a 3.86 ERA. With a sidearm release and movement on every pitch he throws, especially his sweeping curveball, Andrews has the makings of a lefty specialist. It would not surprise me if the Brewers front office is already eyeing Andrews because of Alex Claudio’s inconsistency. Interestingly enough, Clayton Andrews can also fill in for outfielders if needed. Throughout his whole collegiate career he was a position player as well as a pitcher and that hasn’t changed in the pros. He has shown an ability to handle himself at the dish, in 33 plate appearances this season, Andrews is hitting .387 with an OPS of .811. Essentially, Andrews is the smaller, less-known, poor man’s version of Shohei Ohtani and Brendan McKay. Andrews could potentially spark the Brewers offense and pitching staff later in the season.
The same way Trey Supak is the dominating starting pitcher for Milwaukee’s AA team, Cody Ponce is the dominating relief pitcher. Like Supak, Ponce has a monstrous frame but he is actually an inch taller listed at 6’6”. Ponce is a right hander with a fastball and cutter that both look identical coming out of his hand. He is able to throw both of these pitches for strikes while also sprinkling in a few curveballs and change ups. A cutter is a useful pitch for a reliever to have considering it can induce a lot of ground balls which can help a pitcher get out of a jam. So far in the minors, Ponce has appeared in 20 games and thrown 30 innings. In these innings he also has 33 strikeouts and an ERA of just 1.80. If a player like Corbin Burnes keeps struggling, who knows, maybe a more reliable pitcher down the stretch could be Cody Ponce.
Hintzen is a right handed relief pitcher who is probably the riskiest option for the Brewers to call up. For the Brewers A+ affiliate he has pitched 35 innings and generated 48 strikeouts. With an ERA of 3.34, the numbers have looked good for Hintzen. He has a power fastball and a couple great breaking pitches. His only issue is walks. By calling up Hintzen now, the Brewers are either getting a guy who’s striking out the side or a guy who’s walking guys on base and struggling to get out of an inning.
Rodrigo Benoit is the Brewers’ A+ team’s closer. He is another right hander who could be a dark horse call up candidate if Milwaukee gets desperate. In 28 innings this season, he is 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He has also added 24 strikeouts and 12 saves. As an older prospect, Benoit has been closing games for a few years and may be the guy the Brewers need as the stakes build in the postseason.
As you can see, the Brewers have talented arms in the minors, it’s just a matter of it they are ready for the pressure of an MLB game. If Milwaukee calls up one or two of these pitchers and they make a positive impact, there is no question that the Brewers can recapture their magic from last season.
*Stats accurate as of 7/5/19, 6:00 pm*