Jeremy Jeffress is currently a free agent. The Milwaukee Brewers released him over the weekend after posting a 5.04 ERA in 48 games this season. The soon-to-be 32-year-old was an All-Star in 2018, posting a 1.29 ERA with 15 saves for the Brewers in 76.2 innings. Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Reds, Mets, and Phillies are the three teams that have shown the most interest in bringing Jeffress in.

Obviously there’s a reason that Jeremy Jeffress is available to anyone for a little bit of money on September 5th. He’s struggled this season. Sort of. Until late July, he was performing well. In 37 games through July 21st he had a 3.63 ERA with 3 home runs allowed, 14 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. At worst those are solid numbers.

Over the next month, though, things went south and in a hurry. The right-handed reliever threw 12.1 innings and allowed 13 earned runs (9.49 ERA) with 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, 2 home runs, and he allowed 18 hits. That month turned his season from good to poor, and with a quickness.

There are a lot of things different this season from a performance standpoint for Jeremy Jeffress than in the past. Historically he’s been a high ground ball rate pitcher, with rates between 56.4% and 60.3% dating back to 2014 – his first year with more than 20 innings in the Major Leagues. But this year he’s only at 48.4%.

His strikeout rate fell back to more of a career norm, 20.4%, too. Last season it was easily a career best 29.8%. Some of that could be due to his fastball losing 1.5 MPH compared to last season. 2018 was also the only year of his career where he threw less than 63% fastballs, and he did that by a full 10%. This year, and other years he’s been a lot heavier on his fastball usage.

There’s the obvious loss in velocity here for Jeremy Jeffress. That’s not something you can just ignore. But the pitch usage thing is interesting to see. Last year he was a very different guy and was using his pitches differently. Last year his pitching coach was Derek Johnson. And this year Derek Johnson is the pitching coach in Cincinnati, and we’ve seen what he’s been able to do with many of the Reds pitchers this season.

As with every player it depends on what the acquisition cost is. For a pitcher like Jeremy Jeffress, assuming he is physically ok, he seems like a guy worth taking a flier on and seeing if you can get him back to the guy he was from 2013-2018, and even a large part of 2019.

Photo of Jeremy Jeffress by Ian D’Andrea. Photo has been modified slightly to fit the ratio of the site. License can be found here.

17 Responses

  1. Mason Red

    Yes by all means this team needs a reliever with an ERA over 5.

  2. Indydoug

    I guess you didn’t read the story huh? He was filthy past couple of years.

  3. BK

    I like the idea of signing Jeffress … price should be in a zone where the risk is minimal to the Reds. Projecting for next year:

    LH: Garrett and Reed
    RH: Iglesias, Lorenzen, Stephenson, Sims, Gausman
    AAA shuttle: Bowman, Kuhnel, Herget, Hendrix and maybe Peralta and Alaniz

    Romano and Mella could also get some consideration, but will be out of options when 2020 kicks off. The odds are in our favor that Jeffress makes the bullpen better.

    • Colorado Red

      Should be major league minimum.
      The BrewCrew would get a pro-rated portion of the league minimum back, but still owe the rest of the big salary.

  4. AirborneJayJay

    The Derek Johnson connection is an interesting one. If there are no health issues, it would be worth kicking a tire or two.
    Jeffers has been a big critic of the 2019 MLB baseball. Apparently his sinker doesn’t sink nearly as much as it did the year before in 2018.
    That 2020 bullpen could be expensive with R-Iggy, Gausman, Jeffress, Lorenzen, and possible free agent upgrades.

    • Keith

      Hard to imagine Gausman on roster next year at $9MM. I’m intrigued by him and wouldn’t mind seeing him on the team, but can’t really imagine that kind of money being spent on a reliever.

      • sixpack2

        Yep. They are looking as a starter. If they can fix his stuff in the next Month/maybe Spring will decide.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Keith & Sixpack

        Exactly. at $9MM has to be a starter.

    • TR

      I hope the Reds can keep Derek Johnson around. His presence is a good indicator the Reds will soon be competitive.

  5. redsfanhelpme

    Same old, Same old, lets keep throwing mud at the wall and see what sticks!!

  6. Colorado Red

    My question is why?
    With only 20 or so games to go, what do we need him for?
    Unless it includes an option for 2020, I would pass.

  7. Don

    He started season on IL with a shoulder injury and has been out with a Hip injury the last couple of weeks.
    Unless he is healthy, not sure why make a 40 man roster move for a soon to be 32 year old that is a Free Agent in 3 weeks.

  8. Matt WI

    A thousand times no. His brief period of high success was just that- brief and surprising. I’ve watched a lot of him while with Milwaukee. He is the very picture of a volatile reliever. And, if his groundballs disappeared in Milwaukee, I don’t want to see the damage that does in GABP. Plus declining velocity? There has got to be a dozen other younger guys with more upside to take a flier on.

    • Doug Gray

      Brief success? His ERA from 2010-2017 was 3.34. In 2018 it was 1.29. He’s had 1 season where he’s struggled. This season. And really, that came down to a bad four week stretch.

      • Centerfield

        ERA for a reliever? I think I’ve seen you bash that stat once or twice. I’ve never been impressed with his command. Reminds me of Garrett – most swinging strikes aren’t in the zone. Maybe Derek J. can fix him, but I would rather see Kuhnel with a roster spot.

      • Doug Gray

        A decade’s worth of ERA is fine. 20 innings worth? Not all that useful.

        And I hate to break it to you, but a very large chunk of every single pitchers swinging strikes aren’t in the zone. The league makes contact at an 85% clip on pitches inside the strikezone.

        I’m as big of a Joel Kuhnel fan as your going to find outside of his family members and personal friends. His roster spot shouldn’t be coming down to having Jeremy Jeffress around.