Andrew McCutchen wasn’t the only Brewer who was in a familiar place when the Phillies hosted Milwaukee over the weekend.

The series also marked the first time Brewers reliever Jake Cousins has been to Philadelphia since he called the city home during his college years when he pitched for the Penn Quakers.

Cousin has a 3.60 ERA in five appearances out of the Brewers bullpen this season. He didn’t make an appearance on the mound at Citizens Bank Park this weekend, but he made sure to stop by his former university while he was in town.

“I had breakfast with the coaches [Friday morning]. It’s the same staff as when I was there, so I got to talk to them, catch up with all of them,” Cousins said. “And then my wife and I walked around campus for a while [Friday], went to the field and saw all the guys, so it was a lot of fun.”

Cousins, 27, graduated from Penn in 2017 with a degree in engineering, and left the Quakers baseball program third all-time in wins.

Penn coach John Yurkow recruited Cousins when Cousins was a junior in high school at Wheaton Academy in Illinois.

“Back then, he was kind of a skinny, athletic kid,” Yurkow said. “But the velocity really wasn’t there yet. It was like 86 to 88 [mph] when he was a junior. But you could tell, body wise, if he gained more weight, there was a chance he could be really good.”

In Cousins’ senior year, Penn won its division, and as the Quakers’ ace, Cousins pitched and won the clinching game. While the Red and Blue fell short of an Ivy League title — Penn baseball hasn’t won one of those since 1995 — it was the closest the program had come in 10 years.

Most things that are going to be worthwhile are going to be hard. I battled injuries a lot early on. I was just never healthy enough. So once I was healthy and I threw well, I kind of knew I could have it.

Jake Cousins

Cousins was selected in the 20th round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Washington Nationals. He was one of four Penn players selected that year, which set a program record that still stands. Cousins’ Penn teammate Billy Lescher was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 17th round and now pitches for Detroit’s single-A affiliate, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

“It just shows how we had a really good team, and how Ivy League pitching and hitting can really hang with the rest of them,” Cousins said.

After sustaining an injury, Cousins was released by the Nationals in March 2019. Determined to keep playing, he turned to the independent Frontier League and signed with the Schaumburg Boomers in Illinois.

After he impressed there with an ERA of 0.47 through 15 appearances, Cousins’ contract was bought by the Brewers on July 17, 2019.

“Most things that are going to be worthwhile are going to be hard. I battled injuries a lot early on,” Cousins said. “I was just never healthy enough. So once I was healthy and I threw well, I kind of knew I could have it.”

Cousins already had insight into the life of a professional athlete through his family — his cousin is Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“Watching how [Kirk Cousins] interacts with the media, how he goes about every single day, and how his teammates and coaches talk about him, that’s the model you want to go for,” Cousins said. “You just want to be a great teammate and be a great clubhouse guy. And then a lot of times, your play can speak for itself.”

Cousins was called up to the Brewers on June 21, 2021, and made his first appearance in relief against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He did not surrender an earned run through his first 17 appearances.

Cousins’ go-to pitch is his slider, which he threw 61% of the time in the 2021 season. Thirty-five of his 44 strikeouts in his first season came off his slider.

“The Brewers started telling me that my slider was a good pitch, so they told me to throw it more. That’s something the Brewers do well — they find what makes you different, and they tell you to keep doing that, instead of trying to mold everyone to be the same,” Cousins said. “In college, it was just all fastballs. I didn’t really have a great off-speed pitch, it was all fastballs and locating.”

Cousins isn’t the only Ivy League alum on the Brewers pitching staff. Relief pitcher Brent Suter graduated from Harvard in 2012 and made his debut for Milwaukee in 2016.

When Penn baseball faced Harvard at the beginning of April, the Quakers-Crimson rivalry was alive in the Brewers’ bullpen. Penn swept the series, winning one game, 27-6.

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“I screen-shotted the score and sent it to him,” Cousins said.

Just as Cousins is keeping track of Penn’s progress this season, the Quakers keep tabs on their former ace.

Penn pitching coach Josh Schwartz “is always looking at the games on MLB Network, so if he sees that he’s warming up, or coming in a game, he’ll text, and we’ll all try to hop on and watch him when he comes in,” Yurkow said.

For the current Penn baseball players, Cousins’ success shows that major-league dreams might are possible.

“Before, if you wanted to play pro baseball, it was Doug Glanville, it was Mark DeRosa,” Yurkow said of other famous Penn baseball alums. “So it’s nice to have somebody more modern, kind of a current guy. ... It gives them just another fresher face to kind of look up to, to know that they have that opportunity, too.”