Heavy workload not a problem for Jeffress

Heavy workload not a problem for Jeffress

MILWAUKEE -- No Major Leaguer had taken the mound more often entering Tuesday's games than reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who is enjoying the heavy workload.

"Very OK with me," said Jeffress. "As long as I maintain my strength and continue to work like I know I work, I should be fine. I love getting the ball every day, and I have guys who have been through it here to help me out."

Including his outing against the White Sox on Monday night, Jeffress pitched in 19 of the Brewers' first 33 games, tied with the Pirates' Jared Hughes for the Major League lead.

Both manager Craig Counsell and bullpen coach Lee Tunnell are comfortable with Jeffress' position atop the leaderboard, in part because his outings have been appropriately spaced (Jeffress has pitched three days in a row twice this season, plus two occasions of back-to-back days) and because Jeffress has been efficient in his outings. Only twice in his last 11 appearances has he reached 20 pitches.

Jeffress, a former first-round Draft pick who has revived his career since re-signing with Milwaukee on a Minor League deal early last year, has a 3.18 ERA and has held opponents to a .234 average. His one deficiency has been inherited baserunners; seven of nine have scored.

"He's a high velocity guy [but] I don't see him as a high effort guy," Counsell said. "Your goal is never to have a reliever that leads the league in appearances, but he's been really efficient lately. When you are looking at who is coming up, his name is the name you think about a lot. Obviously, you are very aware of it, but it is kind of a daily thing. We have to get him rest, but when he does it this efficiently, it is a good sign."

Said Tunnell: "They've done a good job of mixing his rest with his work, and he's in a good place. He's got good guys out there helping him along. Any reliever will tell you, there's an art to getting ready."

Counsell and Tunnell are also in agreement on another matter. Jeffress, they said, is unlike last year's early-season bullpen upstart, Tyler Thornburg, who pitched his way into late-inning duties last April but developed elbow trouble in May and June. Thornburg was relatively new to relief work and had some injury history; Jeffress pitched 62 games last season between the Major and Minor Leagues, and has a fresher arm than most 27-year-olds because he was twice suspended in the Minor Leagues for marijuana use.

"I'm enjoying the work," Jeffress said. "I don't mind it at all."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.