Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #47 Rob Wooten

BBtJN LogoHow many days away from Opening Day are we? And who gets a “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” profiling as a result?

Let him tell you himself.

So let’s take a looksee at…

Rob Wooten.

RobWooten

Bobby Woots, as nobody calls him, is a 6’1″ right-handed pitcher from North Carolina. He makes no secret of the fact that he pitched collegiately at the University of and that he bleeds Tarheel blue. He was drafted from UNC by the Brewers in the 13th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. His MLB debut would come five years later, but we touched on that in last year’s profile.

Following his debut campaign, Wooten would break camp back with the Class-AAA affiliate Nashville Sounds, a victim of the numbers game in spring. Wooten was basically the last guy sent to the minors so we knew it would be a matter of time before he returned. When Brandon Kintzler hit the early DL with a strained rotator cuff, Wooten got recalled. Wooten again was a victim in late April as his having pitched 2.0 innings of a 14-inning affair on April 20 resulted in the team needing a fresh bullpen arm just to cover outs. Alfredo Figaro came up and Woot (which people do call him) would be sent down. That trip turned out to be for the minimum 10 day stay as he was right back up on May 1.

Wooten carried an 8.31 ERA back to Nashville thanks mostly to a three-run home run surrendered in his second appearance. It would be Wooten’s only home run allowed in 2014 in 40 appearances. Wooten pitched better than his traditional numbers would indicate (1-4 record, 4.72 ERA), though his ERA+ was below average at just 81. Wooten’s strikeout numbers were better in his second MLB season and he improved on his walk rate. His WHIP was up somewhat significantly, and a mark of nearly 1.5 is really hard for a reliever to consistently avoid negative results. Still, Wooten’s FIP was 2.61 so there’s reason for optimism.

Another reason for that bright side look is that Wooten earned manager Ron Roenicke’s trust to handle higher-leverage situations when sometimes there weren’t other options available. Granted he lost some of those chances when first Jeremy Jeffress and later Jonathan Broxton joined the ‘pen, but knowing that he could be inserted into a late and close situation was a benefit for Wooten’s confidence.

In fact, Wooten had his ERA down to 2.65 by the end of May, a month in which he allowed just one run across 13 games. He was also at 2.91 on June 14th before a doomed outing the next day against Cincinnati would demolish his ERA. Recording zero outs, Wooten would allow six straight hits and ultimately five earned runs. He ERA jumped to 4.98. Wooten would allow just six more earned runs the rest of the season (in 16 games). He would rack up some frequent flyer miles between July 21 (when he was optioned to Nashville) and September 10. He would be up and down three times in total during that stretch.

Wooten got to finish off his 2014 with a cool trip as he was a part of the contingent of players sent over to Japan for a series pitting MLB players against the Japanese national team. Wooten raves about the experience and will no doubt share some stories on Twitter if you ask nicely.

For 2015, Wooten’s early role will almost assuredly be determined by a combination of the numbers game and how well everybody is pitching. If the Brewers break camp with the stable of relievers they currently have, meaning they don’t add a closer type between now and then, Wooten has a better chance of breaking camp on the 25-man. However, newcomer Corey Knebel and returning injured pitchers Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg could squeeze him into his first trip to the new Brewers Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs.

Rest assured, Wooten fans, he’ll spend some time in a Milwaukee uniform at some point in 2015. How much depends on factors that he can control (how well he pitches) but also on some he does not. Such is the life of a middle reliever.

Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobWooten35

Catch up on the countdown!

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