Sunday, January 26, 2014

What would the Garza signing mean for the Brewers bullpen?

I recently wrote about what Garza would do for the Brewers.  I’ve since realized I glossed over a very important aspect.  Garza’s signing would drastically change the dynamic of the Brewers' bullpen, for the better.   Much like signing Garza displaces starts from the worst candidate(s), it would also displace relief appearances from the worst candidate(s). 

Signing Garza would push Tyler Thornburg from the rotation to the pen where his skills are better suited.  He’s a shorter pitcher and because of that he can sometimes have problems getting a downward plane on his fastball.  When he pitches up in the zone he becomes very susceptible to home runs.  That isn’t as big a problem when hitters only get to see him once.  His fastball should also be helped by a mile or two increase in velocity.  With his above average curveball (and to a lesser extent his change-up) he could be a serious threat out of the pen.  That's what would replace the worst bullpen candidate.  That’s intriguing.

For most of the offseason it seemed likely the Brewers would roll out a bullpen consisting of Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Tom Gorzelanny, Will Smith, Rob Wooten, Donovan Hand, and (in my opinion) an as yet unsigned free agent.  If Garza does sign, we would have to include Thornburg in the mix.  I still think the Brewers would look for one free agent reliever.  That would leave one spot for a number of candidates (Wooten, Hand, Figaro, Duke, Wang, Olmsted, Goforth) to be used in mop-up.  I think Wooten has a leg up on the competition, but he is by no means a lock.  Goforth is the best of the lot but the Brewers might choose to give him a half season or so experience at Triple-A, a level he's never pitched at before.  However if he's pitching mostly in low leverage situations to begin the season it could help him make the transition from AA to MLB.  It's a lot easier for relievers to make that jump than starters so it isn't unreasonable to say he has a shot.  A bullpen with Henderson, Kintzler, Thornburg, Gorzelanny, Smith, and Wooten/Goforth has the potential to be dominant and I think it's going to surprise a lot of people.  

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