Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #53 Brandon Kintzler

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We’re getting closer.

On a day in Wisconsin when the latest round of snowfall threatens to force us all to drive a little slower, and when those in New England might find the grass on their local fields buried under three feet (!!) of snow, it might not seem like it. I promise you, however, that we are getting there.

A handful of players (who don’t live there year-round) have begun making their way to Arizona and Florida in anticipation for the opening of spring camps. The Brewers have had several accounts on social media of the travails and pitfalls that accompany such journeys, but at least the players are getting there. It’s happening.

What is also happening today is another installment of “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”. As we’re 53 days out from Opening Day, we focus today on…

kintzlerBrandon Kintzler.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, Brandon Lee Kintzler was wearing #61 on his back, pitching out of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. He made the Opening Day roster in 2011 as the 8th relief pitcher when the Brewers didn’t need to take five starters north right away. He made an appearance, was optioned down to the minors afterward, but came back up quickly when Takashi Saito was lost to injury. He would only make eight more appearances before being shut down with triceps tendinitis. Eventually is was learned that Kintzler had a stress fracture in his pitching elbow. This was corrected with surgery when a screw was put in place in late July 0f that year.

This isn’t a column reviewing 2011 (this is), but I mention it again because complications from that 2011 procedure directly impacted his 2012 season.

Kintzler came to camp in 2012 with plenty of prove. With his injury in 2011, he hadn’t established much of a track record for Ron Roenicke and most of his coaching staff. Last year I wrote about that lack of exposure but also wrote that Kintzler had been throwing without pain. As for his 2012 outlook, my fingers opined that “(i)f he gets another chance to hurl in Miller Park, he’ll have earned it. Make no mistake about that either.” He never got the chance.

Spring Training opened and Kintzler had what Ron Roenicke called a “outstanding” bullpen session on February 29th. On March 8th is was reported the Kintzler was experiencing soreness in the forearm of his pitching arm. Within a week he had x-rays to confirm that the another stress fracture or something else hadn’t occurred. It was negative. On Thursday, March 15th, Kintzler had a nerve conduction test. It came back in the clear. Kintzler was quoted at the time saying “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Obviously, I look like an idiot. I know my body, I just don’t know what to do. Hopefully, we can get it all figured out. … I just want peace of mind before we start doing something.”

Forgive me for disagreeing, Brandon, but you never looked like an idiot. You recognized the problem and got it handled. Too often in this game we see people play through injuries only to ultimately make them worse. Kintzler got his forearm right and pitched issue-free ball afterward in 2012.

An off-field issue did pop up at one point for Kintzler when at the end of June he was designated for assignment (DFA’d) in order to clear a spot on the 40-man for a Brewers waiver claim (shortstop Hector Gomez). Luckily for the Brewers, Kintzler was not claimed and was outrighted to Double-A Huntsville where he had been pitching anyway on option since May 20th.

Kintzler made 31 appearances, all out of the bullpen, for Huntsville. Those followed his six-game rehab assignment with the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees. Kintzler posted a 3.28 ERA with Huntsville, allowing 35 hits, 12 walks, and one home run, while striking out 20 hitters all over 35.2 IP. A promotion to Nashville followed and his first appearance as a member of the Sounds was on August 14th.

In his eight Triple-A appearances, Kintzler dazzled across 11.2 innings allowing just two runs (earned) on eight hits and just two walks, while striking out 11. It gave him an ERA of 1.54 and earned him a September call up back to Milwaukee. He had finally earned his 40-man and 25-man roster spots back. It was a circle he was no doubt plenty happy to complete.

Kintzler pitched in 14 games as a Brewer, recording 50 outs along the way. He allowed runs in only four appearances, but allowed multiple runs in three of those four. He finished the year with a big league line of:

3-0, 3.78, 14 G, 16.2 IP, 18 H, 7 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 14 K, 1.50 WHIP, 2.0 K/BB, 111 ERA+

He also finished the year healthy.

All told, Kintzler threw 70.0 innings in 2012 and finally has himself positioned properly heading into Spring Training which opens in five short days as I type this.

In my “far too early” roster prediction back on December 31st, I didn’t hesitate in projecting Brandon Kintzler into the Brewers bullpen. Assuming everything goes to plan in Cactus League action, I can’t see Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke hesitating either.

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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