Continuing from last year.
Starters: Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson
Near-Ready Minor Leaguers: Mark Rogers, Amaury Rivas
Prospects: Cody Scarpetta, Dan Merklinger, Wily Peralta
It’s amazing how one position can go from complete question mark to team strength in the course of two weeks. There’s really not much in terms of roster questions for the Brewers at starting pitcher. The starting five is determined, Mark Rogers will refine his craft in the minor leagues, and Amaury Rivas might be the first pitcher called up in an injury situation. Dan Merklinger was a bit old for the league (24 years old) but had a tremendous year with A+ Brevard County last season. Scarpetta is one of the Brewers top prospects almost by default, and he has a chance to develop into a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm. Wily Peralta falls under the same description as Scarpetta, as do most of the Brewers top prospects as of right now.
Closer: John Axford
Setups: Takashi Saito, Zach Braddock
Middle/Long Relief: Kameron Loe, Manny Parra, Latroy Hawkins
Competing for a job: Sean Green, Pat Egan, Justin James, Mike McClendon, Brandon Kintzler, Mitch Stetter,
Minor leaguers: Roque Mercedes
The back end of this bullpen shows an interesting blend of young and old, but it should be strong. Axford was a revelation, although he needs to control his pitches at least as well as last year to maintain his success. Saito may have durability issues, but when he can take the mound he should be among the best pitchers in baseball. Braddock was solid in his first season and should only improve. Loe and Parra are holdovers from last season and should retain their spots. LaTroy Hawkins should improve on a disappointing debut campaign with the Brewers, as long as he can stay healthy.
The remaining spot will come down to any of the following six players. Stetter is undeserving of a roster spot, as he’s awful against right-handers and not good enough against lefties to truly be considered a lefty specialist. Brandon Kintzler looked very good in the Arizona Fall League and has a chance to reach the show, but could also see some seasoning as Nashville’s closer, as could Mike McClendon. Justin James is a very interesting waiver claim who could be very productive against right handed hitters. Sean Green, a veteran extreme groundballer, is a very good bet to make the team as a middle reliever along with Loe and Parra. Pat Egan is the Brewers Rule V pick. He put up intriguing numbers in AAA, but with the team going all-out in 2011, he won’t make the team unless the Brewers really think he can contribute to the bullpen right now. Roque Mercedes was actually traded by the Brewers in the Felipe Lopez trade in 2009; he was reacquired in a waiver claim and will likely start the season in AA or AAA.