The Milwaukee Brewers are set to enter 2019 with the organization utterly devoid of any left handed pitching. The lack of diversity among the Brewers pitchers is concerning.
With Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez poised to leave the organization in free agency this winter, unless the Milwaukee Brewers add a left handed starter in free agency or a trade, they’re going to enter 2019 with an all right-handed rotation.
Most big league teams want to have at least one lefty in their rotation to give opposing hitters a different look.
Current Big League Lefties
The southpaws on the current roster are all in the bullpen: Josh Hader, Dan Jennings, and Xavier Cedeno. While Hader came up through the minor leagues as a starting pitcher, he’s dropped down to just using two pitches and is a fixture in the bullpen now. It’s unlikely Hader ever rejoins a starting rotation.
Jennings and Cedeno are situational lefties and can be easily replaced on the open market. But Jennings was found as the 2018 season began and Cedeno was an August acquisition.
Do the Brewers have any left handed starters?
Here is the full list of left handed starting pitchers the Milwaukee Brewers currently have in their organization:
They don’t have any left handed starters in the big leagues, Triple-A, or High-A.
For some reason, the Milwaukee Brewers have had a stunning lack of focus on drafting and developing left handed pitchers, despite their importance to big league teams. There are way more right handed people in the world than left handed, I understand that. But every other team has been able to sign a decent amount of lefty pitching to their organization.
In fact, literally every other organization has more left handed starting pitching than the Brewers. From the big leagues down to rookie ball, every other MLB team has more left handed pitchers than Milwaukee does.
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What about left handed relievers?
They have a couple of those. Outside of Cedeno and Jennings, the Brewers have Brad Kuntz, an undrafted free agent in 2015 who was in Double-A this year. They have Daniel Brown, a 7th round pick in 2016 that posted a 4.20 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP in High-A Carolina this year. Nathan Kirby was a first round pick in 2015 before he blew out his arm and missed two full seasons before coming back in 2018 and posting a 4.82 ERA. He made a few starts, but most of his outings were from the bullpen.
The Milwaukee Brewers also have Quintin Torres-Costa, who just underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss all of 2019.
Why Do They Need Left Handed Pitching?
In an era of analytics where managers go to preferable matchups and platoon splits frequently, being able to give different looks to the opposing team is critical. Look at what the Brewers did in the NLCS when Wade Miley “started” Game 5 to get the preferable Dodgers lineup just to put in Brandon Woodruff to save Miley for Game 6.
If they had more left handed starters than just Wade Miley and the, at the time, injured Gio Gonzalez, the Brewers could’ve actually used a weakened Dodgers lineup against lefties to their advantage. The gimmick worked in that game for the most part, but using the opener to change the opposing lineup is not a sustainable, long term pitching strategy as other teams will catch on.
With how analytically versed this Milwaukee Brewers front office is, it’s surprising that they haven’t placed more of an emphasis on finding left handed pitching throughout their organization. They added it to the big league level in 2018, with the acquisitions of Jennings, Miley, Cedeno, Gonzalez, and Boone Logan.
But the shortage of southpaws in the minor leagues is a concern for the future. Left handed pitching is notoriously expensive on the free agent and trade market due to the high demand and low supply of the position. That’s why it’s important to draft and develop lefties within the organization.
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The Milwaukee Brewers have had a lack of homegrown left handed pitching for a long time now, and it’s time to change that.