3 Underrated Pickups That Made a Difference for the Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers currently sit in first place in the National League Central, with a 46-33 record after their first 79 games. As we approach the halfway mark, it’s safe to say that the Brewers have established themselves as a top team. But when we look at their squad, many wonder “how do they get there?” »

The answer to that question is multifaceted, but one of the biggest factors is the bullpen. To make that even more remarkable, the Brewers’ starting pitchers have thrown the fewest innings of any team in the league.

When the Brewers lost shortstop Devin Williams in training camp, no one had high expectations for the back end of the bullpen. But the Brewers received unimaginable production from players who were unknowns in 2024. Here are three Brewers relievers who exceeded expectations during the first half of the season.

Bryan Hudson came into 2024 with a grudge. The Brewers acquired him from the Dodgers after he was decommissioned in exchange for Justin Chambers. Hudson didn’t get a real chance in Los Angeles and after the signing of Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, there was no room for him on the roster.

The saying “one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure” couldn’t be truer in this scenario. Hudson is having an All-Star caliber season for the Brewers, with a 0.86 ERA in 27 games and 42 innings pitched. And his Baseball Savant page is an absolute joke. Just for some metrics, Hudson is in the 98th percentile in “pitch run value,” 99th percentile in “fastball run value,” 97th percentile in xERA, 95th percentile in xBA, 98th percentile in pitcher extension off the mound, and 92nd percentile in strikeout percentage at 31.4%.

Sorry for flooding everyone’s brains with statistics, but the general point should be clear. Hudson is having a special season, and the numbers back it up. It will be fun to see him in more risky situations late in the season, but until then, expect Murphy to continue making sure he is well rested. That’s terrifying enough for the league, but Bryan Hudson’s best may be yet to come.

Anyone who came into 2024 with Trevor Megill as the closer on their bingo card every day considered themselves bold, but a winner. The big right-hander has become something special in the Brewers organization, and with Devin Williams injured, he’s become the closer for now.

In April 2023, the Minnesota Twins traded Megill to the Brewers for a player to be named later and for cash. Milwaukee obviously saw something in him, but to say they saw it would be a bit extreme. In 26 games this season, Megill has a 1.85 ERA while recording 16 saves. On Opening Day this year, the Brewers planned to use a “closer by committee” until Devin Williams returned from the injured list. But it only took about a month for Megill to firmly get the job, and since then he’s been great at maintaining the closer role through the first half of 2024.

Megill relies heavily on the use of two pitches, a four-seam and a curveball, both of which have been very good for most of the season. Megill’s fastball averages 98.8 MPH, but can often be seen topping 100 MPH. He throws this pitch just under 70% of the time, and hitters are hitting just .214 against it.

Megill’s curveball is absolutely disgusting when commanded well. It comes in at around 87.9 MPH, which often leaves hitters frozen at the plate after seeing 100 MPH on the fastball. Hitters only have a weighted average of .140 on his hitting curve, so when he throws it for a strikeout, it’s extremely difficult to hit. When Williams returns, it will be fun to see how Pat Murphy handles the situation, with Megill continuing to manage.

Jared Koenig came out of nowhere in 2024 and established himself as one of the most reliable arms in Pat Murphy’s bullpen. Koenig has provided the Brewers with 95th percentile pitching point value this season and has been used in a number of roles.

In November, the Brewers signed Koenig to a minor league contract and it didn’t take long for him to parlay that into a major league deal in 2024. After a few stints in Triple-A Nashville early in the season, Koenig has recently proven himself and avoided being sent back to the minor leagues.

When Koenig was first brought to the Brewers organization, he was consistently throwing sinkers at 94/95 MPH. But last night against the Rangers he consistently hit 97/98 MPH, which is significant compared to his early career stats. This is a guy who seems to understand more than ever what he needs to do to succeed.

In 2024, Koenig has a 1.77 ERA after 35.2 innings pitched. He has also demonstrated his versatility, being used as an opener five times this season. Koenig has been incredibly impressive and has taken full advantage of this opportunity with the Brewers organization. It took the 30-year-old a long time to break through, but he seems to have found his place in Milwaukee.

The health of the entire organization has opened up new opportunities for a number of pitchers in 2024, and these three have taken full advantage. A number of other relievers have also been solid, including Hoby Milner, Enoli Paredes and Elvis Peguero. The first half of the season has been a complete team effort, and with the Brewers expected to return to health soon, it will be fun to watch this group play the rest of the way.

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