Who Should the Milwaukee Brewers Use to Pitch in the Eighth Inning in 2013?

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers have a good idea of what their team will look like next season. Milwaukee has signed a couple of new relief pitchers to help rebuild the bullpen while several prospects will get an opportunity to make the team. The big question the Brewers have now is who will be the setup man for the 2013 MLB season?

Left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny and right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop both have experience pitching in the eighth inning. However, right-handed relief pitcher Jim Henderson proved to Milwaukee last season that he is more than capable of handling the job.

In Henderson’s first action in the majors, he went 1-3 with a 3.52 earned run average, 45 strikeouts, three saves, five blown saves and 15 holds in 36 appearances. The Brewers seem confident enough to give him the setup job outright after what he was able to do, but that does not mean there will not be competition in spring training.

Badenhop has 20 career holds and posted some of the best numbers of his career last season with the Tampa Bay Rays. He recorded a career-high 3.30 ERA while appearing in a career-high 66 games along with a 3.50 strikeout to walk ratio and five holds. As much as I believe the 29-year-old could handle the job, I think he will be utilized better relieving starters in the sixth or seventh inning.

Gorzelanny is the only left-handed relief pitcher in the bullpen after Milwaukee non-tendered Manny Parra’s contract a few weeks ago. He inked a two-year, $6 million deal and should give the Brewers bullpen a real boost of confidence after they posted a Major League-worst 4.66 ERA this past season.

Gorzelanny has been a starting pitcher for the majority of his career but the Washington Nationals got the great idea of placing him in the bullpen after his many struggles. The 30-year-old posted career numbers across the board in 2012 in ERA (2.88), holds (9), opponent batting average (.242), earned runs (23) and appearances (45). He also has success against right-handed batters as much as left-handed batters.

The competition will come down between Henderson and Gorzelanny. Both players proved last season that they have the ability to perform the job well. At this point, the Brewers need someone to prove that they can get the ball cleanly to closer John Axford without any complications when the team has a lead. Milwaukee could very well decide they would much rather have their left-hander used in the seventh inning or other special situations. Therefore, Henderson would get the nod at the start of the season assuming he pitches well in spring training.

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.

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