Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Brewers Quick Hits: David Phelps, Shelby Miller

David Phelps

On January 29th, the Brewers inked Phelps to a one-year, $1.2M deal, with a club option for the 2021 season. The deal includes incentives that could push his 2020 salary to $1.9M. The ’21 option is valued at $4.5M with a $250K buyout and the potential to earn $1.9M in incentives.

Phelps returned to the majors in 2019 after sitting out all of 2018 while recovering from Tommy John. While his stat line (3.41 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 5.01 xFIP, 24.5 K%, 11.6 BB%) was below average at best, Phelps has a history of being a capable big-league reliever. in 2017, he had a 3.40 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and .6 fWAR in 55.2 IP. His 2016 was the best year of his career and his first full year as a reliever – albeit with five spot starts – and pitched to a 2.28 ERA, 2.80 FIP, and a 32.4 K%. While he probably won’t return his ’16 form, it wouldn’t be outrageous to expect him to have a season in the 0.5 – 1.0 fWAR range with a low threes ERA and average to above-average K-rates.

Something to look for in 2020 is his velocity, which at the start of his ’19 season was below MLB average at 91.6 MPH before making a slow, steady climb to roughly average at 93.3 MPH (which is below his career-best of 94.7 MPH). Phelps should add good depth to a Brewers pen that has the potential to be a real strength.

Photo Courtesy of Baseball Savant

Shelby Miller

Shelby Miller’s career took a sharp nosedive after being traded to the Diamondbacks in the 2016 offseason as the main pawn which sent Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, and Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves in what some would call the heist of the 21st century.

In the 2016 season, Miller threw 101 IP with a 6.15 ERA and 4.87 FIP amidst a finger injury and at one point being demoted to give him time to figure it out. 2017 marked more of the same, as he was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL and tried to rehab it without surgery to no avail, seeing only 22 IP of action before deciding to have Tommy John.

When he came back in 2018, Miller’s 10.69 K/9 perfectly matched his ERA in 16 IP. He ended the season on the 60-day IL for right elbow inflammation, and elected free agency, signing a contract with the Texas Ranger on January 9th, 2019. Miller’s time in Texas was also short-lived, throwing only 44 IP with an 8.59 ERA, 13.6 K%, and 13.2 BB%.

The Brewers signed Miller to a minor league deal after he was released from Texas, only for him to hit the IL again after throwing only 20.2 IP at Triple-A before the Brewers released him.

That brings us to the present day, where Miller has signed another minor league contract with the Brewers and will have a chance to show the Crew that he’s capable of still contributing something of value. His 4-seam averaged 94.3 MPH last year, and his curveball was an above-average offering by SLUG (.395), xSLUG (.374), wOBA (.317), and xwOBA (.292). His cutter was a good pitch in ’17 as well as ’19, though its usage was limited. It’s unlikely that he still has the makings of a 3.5 fWAR pitcher, but his contract and invite is a no-risk/high-reward type deal, and he’s only 29. And, since it’s the Brewers, there’s potential for him to become a bullpen piece. We’ll see.

Photo Courtesy of Savant Player Pages

Aaron Plotsky

Aaron is a college student who loves baseball, writing, and learning. The game has been with him ever since he first threw a ball at the age of three, and his love for it has only evolved since. Aaron is currently an instructor and travel baseball coach at Pitch 2 Pitch South in Burnsville, MN. He is married to his beautiful wife, Jessalyn, and they share their home with their cat, Louise, and their dog, Buddy.