The start of the first week of Brewers action has certainly been a busy one. In a short period of time, two more names have hit the Disabled List, two players have been brought in to contribute to the major league squad, and another has been taken off the active roster to make room.
In a late move, Brewers’ GM David Stearns signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a major-league deal on April 2nd. In correspondence to the deal, he moved OF Rymer Liriano (facial fractures) to the 60-Day DL to make room for him on the 40-man roster. To make room on the active roster, RHP Corey Knebel was placed on the 15-Day DL (oblique strain). It was a little surprising to hear about Knebel, especially after his scoreless outing against the Astros last Thursday. Nonetheless, when he returns to the active roster, he should slot in as a setup option in the 8th inning to bridge the gap to RHP Jeremy Jeffress in the 9th.
The 33 year-old reliever has had some modest success over the past three seasons, latching on as a multiple-inning option. However, 2015 saw him toss only 10 outings in which he got 4+ outs, meaning he won’t be used in that role too often this season despite his experience. His repertoire in the past three seasons has consisted of a 2-seam, 4-seam, cutter, changeup, and curveball. Torres’ ground ball ratios indicate that he isn’t a ground ball-type pitcher, but the rising trend to pair with a dropping fly-ball rate (36.8% in 2013 to 29% in 2015) may indicate a shift in focus. He typically sits in the upper-80’s to low-90’s with his fastball/cutter combination, and will most likely be used as simple depth to bridge any gaps from starters to late-inning relievers – nothing more. He pitched on Opening Day for the Crew and gave up 2 runs on 2 hits, a walk, and a home-run.
In more recent news, the Brewers also decided to place RHP Matt Garza on the 15-Day DL (Lat Strain). Garza had been dealing with soreness as early as his last start in Spring Training – when they pulled him out after some discomfort against the Houston Astros this past Friday. Sadly, the discomfort was no ‘April Fools’ joke, as he now will have about 4-6 weeks on the DL to recuperate from the injury. In response to the move, RHP Tyler Cravy has been added to the 25-man roster.
Honestly, the Brewers could opt to maintain a 4-man rotation until the two-game series in Minnesota on April 18-19th. With two days off in-between, the rotation could continue to get the same amount of off-days to prepare for their next outing. By adding Cravy, the team can play it safe and allow themselves to have some flexibility in this respect due to his ability to spot-start or come out of the bullpen for multiple innings at a time.
Lastly, the Brewers acquired left-handed reliever Sam Freeman from the Texas Rangers in return for cash considerations, as per numerous sources (such as MLBTR here). In order to make room for him, the Brewers designated RHP Ariel Pena for assignment – meaning he will be off any organizational rosters until he either clears waivers, gets traded, or is released. The most likely choice will be that he is optioned to the minors if he clears through waivers – a probable situation after he gave up 5 runs on 5 hits (3 HR’s) and 2 walks in 1.2 innings of work against the Giants on Opening Day.
|2013 (AAA)||49||69.2||2.97||1.21||8.53||3.49||38.9% in 12.1 IP w/STL|
The 28 year-old southpaw has been up-and-down in the Cardinals active roster since 2012. However, he landed a bullpen job with the Texas Rangers last season and helped contribute to a postseason birth. He will likely provide another left-handed option in the bullpen to go with LHP Chris Capuano. Although Freeman also struggles against lefties (a career .271/.397/.365 wOBA line in 44.2 IP), he is a completely different arm compared to Capuano. For his career, Freeman has averaged a 93.8 mph fastball, and sat around 94 mph last season to pair with a 2-seam fastball, splitter, slider, and changeup. He generates strikeouts at a healthy (but not spectacular) rate, and has a career 49.7% ground-ball rate. The biggest worries for Freeman is his rising walk-rates – clearly one cause for his troublesome WHIP. Over the past four years, he has also seen his line-drive rates rise (14.8% in 2012 to 21.4%). While the last number is around league average, it may be a cause for concern if the trend continues to rise.
Note: Photo credited to Jerome Miron at USA Today Sports