Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’14 – #53 Brandon Kintzler

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Short February is underway here in the year 2014, and the Milwaukee Brewers host the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park 53 days hence.

Last year when we were 53 days away, I wrote of the immense snowfall blanketing parts of the United States. This year, at least here in Milwaukee, I write about the immense cold that continues to hit and hit again and hit some more, like David Ortiz last October. We’ll hit -25 degrees in wind chill tonight in and around Miller Park and despite the good feeling of seeing the last equipment truck depart for Arizona, that’s still chilly.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, 53 days out, we’re profiling…

Brandon Kintzler.

BrandonKintzler

First of all, if you don’t know the recent health history of Brandon Lee Kintzler leading up to the 2013 season, I suggest you check out last year’s profile. I won’t rehash it here because Kintzler was quite healthy in 2013.

Therefore, to recap 2013 you need to start with Kintzler’s workload which was 77.0 innings pitched across 71 appearances. The counting stats were nice (58 strikeouts, 16 walks, two home runs) but the proof in step forward he took is most evident in the rates and comprehensive stats.

Kintzler finished 2013 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.065 WHIP, 3.63 K/BB, and a and ERA+ of 147. Most of that work came in the 8th inning as he evolved during the season into the defacto setup man for closer Jim Henderson. In fact, Kintzler pitched to better overall numbers in high-leverage situations than medium-leverage ones. He responded to pressure over and over in 2013 and has put himself into position as the setup man heading into 2014.

His chances to keep that job (at least mostly) are buoyed by his incredible lack of a platoon split. That may have been influenced somewhat by a .263 BAbip vs. lefties as opposed to a .302 BAbip vs right-handed hitters, but the results are what they are.

And they were strong. If you doubt, here’s the link to Kintzler’s splits page for 2013 at Baseball Reference. I link instead of spell it all out because I’m in a bit of a time crunch on this one, unfortunately. Kintzler deserves more time, but I have a feeling that I’ll be writing about him in a positive light a few more times this year.

For a 2014 outlook, Kintzler enters Spring Training with a hold on one of the spots in the back end of Ron Roenicke’s bullpen. Henderson returns as the closer to start the season, but if he struggles at all with his slider, there could be opportunity to close down the road, but I think to start the season Kintzler’s competition will be elsewhere.

When the Brewers traded for left-hander Will Smith (and then subsequently signed Matt Garza for the rotation), it added a player with good results of his own to the late inning bullpen competition. We’ll review Smith’s numbers when his turn in “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” comes up — March 18th, for the record — but suffice it to say for now that Smith’s results, stuff, and handedness make him a true competitor for that time in the 8th. Then again, nobody can pitch every day anyway — now, can they?

Regardless, Kintzler’s bottom line will be one littered with leverage by the time the 2014 chapter of his baseball career is written.

And the stats really count in just 53 days.

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

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