No, the Milwaukee Brewers Bullpen is Not “Out of Gas”

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MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 13: Erik Kratz #15 and Jeremy Jeffress #32 of the Milwaukee Brewers talk during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 13, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Milwaukee Brewers had their 12-game winning streak snapped in Game 2 of the NLCS at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. launched a late comeback against the Brewers bullpen, scoring two runs each in the seventh and eighth innings. Justin Turner‘s two-run blast in the eighth served as the deciding blow.

Wade Miley cruised through the first five-and-two-thirds innings of the game, allowing no runs on just two hits. Manager Craig Counsell elected (correctly) to pull Miley in favor of the bullpen once the Dodgers order turned around for the third time. While unconventional, this has been the Brewers’ strategy all season long. Since it didn’t work out, national pundits have taken the opportunity to question the Brewers’ pitching staff more strongly than before. This reaction is premature and trying to create a false narrative.

Fancred’s Jon Heyman published this piece mere hours after the game. Some of the phrases in the article include:

“Is there an expiration date on this grand experiment, and we have hit it?”

“Are [the Brewers] a victim of their own success?”

“It’s showing it’s wear and tear.”

It’s time to start debunking this.

No, the Milwaukee Brewers Bullpen is Not “Out Of Gas”

The Workload is Not the Issue

The overall belief is that the Brewers bullpen is tired. For some, it might be easy to say that based on what happened in Game 2, but it’s simply not true. If anything, they have the story backward.

The Brewers swept the NLDS, meaning that series ended last Sunday. Game 1 of the NLCS didn’t start until Friday night. That left the Brewers with four days off, which also means their relievers went four days without getting into a game. The bullpen was completely rested, and all of the relievers figured to be fully recovered from their workload in the NLDS.

Additionally, the four days off could cause some arms to become rusty. This would explain why Corbin Burnes—who was on five days of rest—wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. It would explain why Joakim Soria—who pitched on four days rest just twice all season—struggled in Game 1.

The Brewers bullpen is tired. If anything, it may have been too rested.

One Guy is the Problem, Not the Entire Group

Skeptics are doubting the Brewer bullpen as a whole, but most of the damage has come against one pitcher. Jeremy Jeffress has allowed four runs in the postseason. Here’s how the rest of Milwaukee’s bullpen has fared:

Corbin Burnes: 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 K
Corey Knebel: 5 IP, 1 ER, 6 K
Josh Hader: 5.1 IP, 0 ER, 8 K
Brandon Woodruff: 5 IP, 0 ER, 7 K
Joakim Soria: 3 IP, 2 ER, 6 K
Junior Guerra: 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 K
Xavier Cedeno: 0.1 IP, 2 ER, 0 K

Without Jeffress, the rest of the bullpen has a 2.63 ERA in the postseason. That also includes inherited runners from Burnes, Soria, and Cedeno that Jeffress has allowed to score.

Jeffress has had a tremendous season, and there’s still plenty of reason to believe that he’ll get back on track. Even if he doesn’t, the Brewers bullpen is deep enough to get the job done. Hader, Woodruff, Burnes, and Guerra are all capable of working multiple innings. The latter three were starters earlier in the season and are built to handle a larger workload.

The Brewers have a day off on Sunday before playing Game 3 in Los Angeles on Monday. All of the relievers figure to be available, and the majority of them have been getting the job done in the postseason. The Brewers bullpen is not out of gas. They’re still in a favorable position to help the Brewers advance to their first World Series appearance since 1982.
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