Well, it looks like the Brewers and Doug Melvin and finally found a left-handed relief pitcher for the 2013 bullpen.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 20, 2012
Following the non-tender of Manny Parra, the Brewers had been connected closer with a trio of left-handers (Sean Burnett, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell) and were basically mentioned when talking about any of the other free agent lefties available.
This morning’s news from Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt would appear to tie a bow on those proceedings. The bow could be untied, of course, if Gorzelanny fails his physical.
The team hasn’t yet announced the deal which they cannot do until the physical is complete per Major League Baseball’s rules. The announcement is expected to happen on Friday.
Gorzelanny, 30, offers the ability to be more than just a LOOGy, something which Ron Roenicke has noted he prefers in the past. He has stated that he doesn’t want a lefty just to have a lefty, and the feel of using up a spot in the bullpen on a specialist doesn’t jive with that idea. The aforementioned Parra was thought to be able to fill that role given his ability and repertoire on the mound but proved ineffective and inconsistent.
As with many left-handers, perhaps Gorzelanny has taken a while to find his best role and really come into his ability. As a full-season starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 24, Gorzelanny had a strong season but hadn’t been able to duplicate those results, let alone better them, until his full-time switch to the bullpen in 2012. (Okay, so he started one game on October 2nd to help allow the Nationals to best set their postseason rotation but 44 out of 45 appearances out of the bullpen is full-time enough for me.)
In 2012, Gorzelanny posted a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA and one Save. In his 44 bullpen appearances he struck out 57, walked 28, gave up 61 hits in 68.1 innings, good for a 1.302 WHIP. Gorzelanny held left-handed hitters overall to a .237/.298/.398 (.687 OPS) and a .298 wOBA. As mentioned before, he wasn’t a slouch against right-handers either, holding them to a .245/.343/.397 (.740 OPS) and a .326 wOBA. The biggest disparity is the on-base against righties. That’s in large part to his drastically increased walk rate against them. He walked right-handed hitters twice as often as lefties in 2012.
The other thing Gorzelanny offers is a bit of coverage for the rotation should the need for a spot-start arise. He has started for the majority of his career but certainly appears much more suited to the bullpen. But he has the ability to go multiple innings which is another quality that Roenicke appreciates in his relievers. In fact, Gorzelanny recorded more than just three outs in over half (23-of-44) of his relief appearances last season.
We don’t know the money yet, but assuming that Gorzelanny realized he wasn’t going to get the same kind of contract signed by Burnett with the Angels, it shouldn’t be a figure which hamstrings the Brewers in any way.
Therefore, for now, I’ll say that this signing makes a ton of sense for the Brewers and should help everyone forget about the repeated poor bullpen performances of 2012.
***UPDATE: The following tweet came from FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi regarding a dollar amount for Gorzelanny.***
Tom Gorzelanny’s deal with #Brewers will be worth close to $6MM over two years, source says.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 20, 2012
Gorzelanny made $3 million in 2012 and $2.1 million in 2011 as a member of the Washington Nationals for the last two years so this dollar amount sounds fair.
***UPDATE 2: Full contract value breakdown was tracked down by Tom Haudricourt***
#Brewers deal with LHP Tom Gorzelanny guarantees $5.7 million: $300,000 signing bonus, salaries of $2.6 M in ’13 and $2.8 M in ’14.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) December 21, 2012
Assuming the deal becomes official, Gorzelanny will fill the only currently open slot on the Brewers’ 40-man roster.