Coming into the 2010 season, the back of the Brewers' bullpen appeared to be one of the most reliable areas of the team's pitching staff. Trevor Hoffman, LaTroy Hawkins, and Todd Coffey were all coming off strong 2009 campaigns, and looked poised to hold down the late innings in Milwaukee. All three right-handers struggled this year though, with Hoffman losing the closer's job and Hawkins missing most of the season due to shoulder trouble.
Hawkins is under contract for 2011 and Hoffman's time in Milwaukee is likely over, but the team will face a decision on Coffey in the coming weeks. The 30-year-old will be arbitration-eligible for the final time and, in spite of his underwhelming performance, probably has a slight raise coming on this year's $2.025MM salary.
Prior to the 2010 season, Coffey had been one of the team's best relievers, posting a 2.67 ERA over 91 innings since the 2008 waiver claim that sent him from Cincinnati to Milwaukee. This year, however, in 62.1 IP, Coffey's ERA ballooned to 4.76. Of course, his numbers weren't all bad; his walk and home run rates were only slightly above his career averages, and he recorded a career-best strikeout rate (8.1 K/9). Whether or not the Brewers decide to tender him a contract this year will depend on if they believe those peripheral stats suggest a bounceback 2011 season is in the cards.
The Brewers' bullpen pitched 518 innings, third-most in the National League, and ranked just 12th in the NL in ERA (4.48). It figures to be an area the team will focus on improving this winter, but before they look to the free agent market, the Brewers will need to make a decision on Coffey. Will the righty be non-tendered this offseason? Click here to weigh in, and click here to view the results.