The good news for the Milwaukee Brewers is that they had the top offense in the National League this past year and therefore do not have a lot to upgrade this off-season to be better in 2013. However, that does not mean there are not critical areas the Brewers must improve to reach the postseason.
For starters, Milwaukee must find a way to bolster their bullpen as it was clearly the weakest link on the team. In fact, if the Brewers’ relievers could have found a way to pull out a few more wins then there is no question Milwaukee would have been playing in their second consecutive playoffs. Unfortunately, the bullpen was such a disaster that the Brewers are going to have a difficult time repairing it.
Milwaukee had the worst statistical bullpen last season as they posted a 28-33 record and a 4.66 earned run average in 512 1/3 innings. The team did finish third in the Major League with 527 strikeouts, but the .264 opponent batting average and 265 total earned runs are pathetic.
Setup man Francisco Rodriguez and closer John Axford were supposed to be the glue that held the bullpen together in 2012, but unfortunately, they were everything but that. Rodriguez and Axford combined for a 7-15 record, 4.53 ERA, and 16 blown saves in 141 1/3 innings. “K-Rod” will be looking for a new home in free agency while Axford is expected to return to the team.
The Brewers will have to find more than one reliever, as several members of the bullpen will be taking a hike this off-season. It is unknown how much Milwaukee is willing to spend on relief pitchers, but there is no question they will have to attract at least one big name to give the bullpen a chance in 2013.
The bullpen is the biggest concern but the Brewers must also bring in a veteran starter to pitch behind ace Yovani Gallardo in the rotation. Milwaukee’s current rotation is young, promising, and filled with talent but there is a clear lack of experience. Not to mention, if the Brewers reached the postseason they would like a few guys who can pitch with confidence when the pressure is on.
Milwaukee will at least place a bid for Zack Greinke, but it is very unlikely he will come back to the Brewers with so many large market teams interested in him. I could see Milwaukee acquiring someone along the lines of Kyle Lohse or Ryan Dempster for the right price. A veteran arm is a must to have next season as the Brewers have no choice but to acquire at least someone who has been around the block before.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.