The Milwaukee Brewers went into the offseason knowing they must improve their Major League-worst 4.66 bullpen ERA. Above all else, they desperately needed a left-handed reliever and they finally acquired one in Tom Gorzelanny.
If Gorzelanny can repeat the same statistics that he posted with the Washington Nationals this past season, then the Brewers will be in good hands. The 30-year-old had a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA, 62 strikeouts, one save and nine holds in 45 games, including one start.
These were some of the best numbers of his career which means he is either turning into a great pitcher or 2012 was simply a fluke. The Brewers are putting their money on him entering his prime and are willing to bet two years on it. The deal Gorzelanny signed is expected to be around $6 million over the next two seasons, which fits perfectly into Milwaukee’s price range. Of course, the contract is still pending a physical but there is no reason to believe he will not pass.
Brewers’ fans should be somewhat familiar with the left-hander, as he has spent six of his eight years in Major League Baseball in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. Gorzelanny has been a starter for most of his time in the big-leagues, which is why his career earned run average is 4.41. However, the Nationals figured out that he is much better in a relief role as the 2012 season proves.
Gorzelanny is definitely not someone that was on many people’s radar in Milwaukee, but it is a good signing nonetheless. The Illinois native will not be used as a lefty specialist as most lone left-handers are because he is very effective against both kinds of hitters. In fact, his opponent batting averages are almost identical as left-handers hit .237 off of him this past season while right-handers batted .245.
Gorzelanny has averaged 71 strikeouts, 40 walks and 92 innings per season. These numbers will of course change, as the Brewers will use him strictly as a reliever, unless something happens to someone in the starting rotation. Gorzelanny also has a career 44-45 record that he would like to improve on while in Milwaukee.
The Brewers will most likely use Gorzelanny in the sixth or seventh inning while they will keep Jim Henderson in the setup role and John Axford as the closer. If he proves worthy, Milwaukee might give him a shot to be the eighth inning guy but he would have to blow the coaches away in spring training in order to get a chance.
Gorzelanny uses five pitches: a four-seam and two-seam fastball that both top out around 90 MPH, a changeup, a slider and a curveball. His effective changeup mixed in with the fastball is why he is able to pitch successfully against right-handed hitters. He will use his entire arsenal with the exception of the changeup against left-handed batters.
Look for Milwaukee to sign one more free agent reliever while the rest of the pitching staff will be filled out with the players already on the 40-man roster as well as prospects.
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.