What does the Front Office See in Daniel Norris?

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Keeping with the Brewers past tendencies at the deadline, they brought in additional bullpen help, acquiring Daniel Norris from the Detroit Tigers. Although his numbers may not be particularly eye-popping, Norris has traits to him that the Brewers like.

Daniel Norris is 28 years old, and has three pitches that he throws: primarily a 4-seam fastball, with a slider and changeup on the side. He does have experience starting; however, it is unclear how the Brewers view his role. He may be used more as part of a tandem, keeping with the plan to preserve arms for October.

The Brewers made a trade to bring left-handed Daniel Norris to Milwaukee. What did the Brewers see in him? Perhaps his changeup.

Cumulatively, Norris has struggled. He currently has a 5.89 ERA in 36.2 innings to go with 9.82 K/9, and a 3.68 K/9. His FIP however is 3.79, which is the 9th highest difference in baseball (min 30 IP). That indicates he has been pitching better than his ERA indicates, and perhaps having the Brewers’ run prevention unit behind him will result in a lower ERA.

His Baseball Savant page shows that Norris gets hit hard, he is in the second percentile for Hard Hit %, meaning 98% of pitchers in baseball have a lower percentage of hard hit balls (95+ exit velo) than he does. However, when opponents hit the ball against him, he has a ground ball % of 50%, meaning that the Brewers defense of Kolten Wong, Willy Adames, Eduardo Escobar, and Luis Urias should be busy keeping those in the infield.

Norris’ best pitch by results, and expected statistics has been his changeup, which he has thrown about a quarter of the time. Opponents only have a slugging percentage of 0.263 against it, and a wOBA of 0.255. However, his xSLG is 0.218, with an xwOBA of 0.218. His whiff% ( Number of Swings & Misses / Total Swings) on his changeup is a cool 36.6%. His changeup also has a hard hit% of 41.7%, which is much lower than his total of 50%.

Norris brings lots of vertical movement with his changeup. He is currently 4th among all qualified pitchers with 7.4 inches of vertical movement above average, new teammate Devin Williams is first at 9.8 inches.

Could the team that helped develop Devin Williams’ “Airbender” and J.P. Feyereisen’s “Feyerbender” find the same magic again? Hopefully so.

Daniel Norris has much better numbers against left-handed batters than right. Lefties have a .278 OBP against him, and only a .277 SLG, compared to a .412 OBP and .520 SLG against righties. The 3-batter minimum has killed the LOOGY position, which means the Brewers trust Norris can be effective against right-handed batters as well.

Daniel Norris will be with the Brewers for two-three months, which may limit the development he is able to achieve, but the Brewers acquiring a seemingly struggling left-handed pitcher at the trade deadline is not new. In 2019, Drew Pomeranz came over in a “significant” deal. The Brewers were able to turn Pomeranz into an elite bullpen weapon, which ultimately got him a 4-year contract with the San Diego Padres

The Brewers’ talent in developing pitchers and recognizing talent is on full display this year, not only do they have three homegrown Cy Young candidates in the starting rotation, they have Jake Cousins who they brought in from the American Association, as well as Miguel Sanchez, who has worked his way through the system and now is contributing at 27.

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David Stearns continues to have an impressive track record as President of Baseball Operations, and hopefully Daniel Norris will soon be looked upon as a great pick up.

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