With the recent addition of Doug Davis, the Brewers now have 6 pitchers contending for spots in the starting rotation.
The Crew’s wishy-washy starting brood managed to muster a 5.37 ERA last year, the highest in the National League. The Brewers snuck in a few bullpen guys like Seth McClung, Chris Narveson and Mike Burns in there at times to try and help out the slumping rotation, but they did little to remedy the situation.
GM Doug Melvin made it clear that Milwaukee was in the market to shed payroll and use the cash for 1 or 2 useful arms to bolster the starting rotation and the new remedies of Davis and fellow lefty Randy Wolf will hopefully prove successful.
Let’s take a look at last year’s numbers, shall we?
Wimpy: Jeff Suppan
7-12 30 Games 5.29 ERA 161.2 IP 80 SO
Wimpy: Dave Bush
5-9 22 Games 6.38 ERA 114.1 IP 89 SO
Wimpy: Manny Parra
11-11 27 Games 6.36 ERA 140.0 IP 116 SO
Lefty: Randy Wolf (LA Dodgers)
11-7 34 Games 3.23 ERA 214. 1 IP 160 SO
Lefty: Doug Davis (Arizona Diamondbacks)
9-14 34 Games 4.12 ERA 146.0 IP 146 SO
Lefty: Manny Parra
Now, don’t get me wrong, there were worse things happening on the mound for the Brewers last year than Manny Parra. Braden Looper gave up 39 homeruns, just as an example. (However, Looper won 14 games.) Parra just needs to get out of his own head. He gets too caught up in one bad performance, hence the stint in Triple-A last season and the trip to the bullpen in ’08. If Manny can calm down and stop psyching himself out, 2010 should be his breakout year that we’ve all been waiting for.
Doug Davis didn’t have the best year in ’09, either, but compared to Milwaukee’s usual suspects, he’s a godsend. Many fans are welcoming him back with open arms and rightfully so. With all the talk about Mark Mulder, I kind of forgot Davis was still on Melvin’s radar. So I’m happy to have seen this deal work out.
What remains to be seen is how the final rotation will shake out for the start of 2010. The Brewers now have 6 established arms competing for 5 spots. I’m not convinced that Jeff Suppan still has what it takes to be a respectable starting pitcher, but he did manage to squeeze out 2 more wins that Dave Bush. Bush, however, pitched in 8 less games than Suppan (and also took a Hanley Ramirez liner off the elbow). Either way, Soup’s still got a year on his contract. Ick.
But in other Brewers news, the Crew has reached agreements with second baseman Rickie Weeks, center fielder Carlos Gomez, outfielder Jody Gerut (I’d rather see Frankie C, but whatev) and pitcher Todd Coffey. Locking up these 4 players for 2010 only leaves Bush, right fielder Corey Hart and reliever Carlos Villanueva. Since the Brewers have a notorious track record of avoiding arbitration hearings, it should only be a matter of days before they’re locked up, too.
As I checked the MLB leaderboards this afternoon on my lunchbreak, the Brewers players (or lack thereof) listed got me thinking about a lot of things. Take a look at some of these numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
MLB Batting Leaders
Prince Fielder – 31 (4th)
Ryan Braun – 26 (Tied, 13th)
Prince Fielder – 107 (1st)
Ryan Braun – 86 (Tied, 6th)
Ryan Braun – .314 (Tied, 15th)
Felipe Lopez – .313 (Tied, 18th)
On Base Percentage
Prince Fielder – .420 (4th)
Prince Fielder – .600 (4th)
Ryan Braun – .568 (9th)
Ryan Braun – 143 (11th)
Felipe Lopez – 140 (Tied, 13th)
Ryan Braun – 85 (6th)
Yovani Gallardo – 11 (Tied, 17th)
Yovani Gallardo – 165 (6th)
Trevor Hoffman – 26 (Tied, 10th)
Mitch Stetter – 57 (Tied, 11th)
Todd Coffey – 56 (Tied, 12th)
I’d say it’s pretty apparent what the problems are here. It’s a major, major issue when only 2 players show up consistently on the batting leaderboards. Admittedly, it’s nice when players hit hot streaks, like Fielder’s current tear. And, of course, not every position player on a team will get hot at the same time. And true, the Brewers have logged double digits in the hits column for what? The last 7 games? But when the one pitcher you see on the boards only takes the mound once every 5 games, things aren’t going to sync up as often as they need to. And even when Gallardo does pitch, the Brewers have trouble giving him ample run support.
It’s no secret that Milwaukee’s pitching staff has taken a perpetual beating this season. Currently, the starting rotation has given up both Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the DL, Braden Looper gives up homerun after homerun (to be fair, the entire staff has given up 159 longballs – the most in the majors. Ouch.), Manny Parra spent a few weeks in the minors only to come back and be crazy-consistent, Gallardo is the ace in the making and then there’s Mike Burns, reliever on loan. Even when the starters manage to go the distance, the distance is generally somewhere around 6 innings – definitely not enough.
Which leads me to the bullpen. It’s no wonder the Brewers have 2 relievers showing up as having pitched in the most games. The bullpen works far too often because the rotation can’t get it done. Adding a few new arms out there have so far not paid off. The only thing Jesus Colome, David Weathers and Claudio Vargas have in common with the rest of Milwaukee’s pitching staff? The ability to give up runs in great numbers.
There are only 44 games left for the Brewers this season. If the pitching doesn’t match up with the offense soon, the team will be in serious jeopardy of falling further out of contention. (Despite what it may sound like so far, I do still have faith in my boys.) It’s just really hard to fathom a big comback in either the NL Central or Wildcard races if batting and pitching coming together is about as rare an occurence as a solar eclipse.
Including wrapping up this current series in Pittsburgh, there are 14 match-ups left in 2009. Only 6 of those series will the Brewers face teams lower in the standings than they are. Also looming for Milwaukee are 3 series against the Cardinals, 2 versus the Cubs and 1 against the Wildcard-leading Rockies. If the Brewers are hoping to take any or all of those series, they had better start by winning more against the teams that, on paper, they’re capable of beating.
And at the risk of sounding selfish, I have at least 6 more games to attend this year, including 2 in St. Louis at the end of the season. I’d like very much to see a major turnaround from my team by then. Well, in addition, I’d like to see the Cubs and Cards take a nosedive, but beggars can’t be choosers. And don’t get me wrong, I know enough about baseball to understand it’s full of ups and downs and I can’t expect the world all the time. But come on, Brewers. I’m really sick of the downs.
Okay, so in other news, Bill Hall’s future will be decided by Friday. It’s entirely possible that Doug Melvin will use Hall as a trading chip. Quite honestly, I hope that he does. Obviously, Hall’s career is far from over and there’s got to be at least a few teams interested in picking him up. The Brewers, if I haven’t made it clear enough yet, need another starter. I’ve been reading the Reds are interested in Billy and, well, they’ve got a couple arms they’re willing to part ways with. And I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing Bronson Arroyo or Aaran Harang put on a Brewers uni. But the decision on Hall still has a few more days to be made, so don’t worry – I won’t hold my breath.
Anyway, the Crew is at PNC Park again tonight to try and restore some dignity and stop the downward spiral. Manny Parra (8-8, 6.44 ERA) matches up with Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA). Parra’s been nothing short of spectacular since returning from Triple-A just a few weeks ago and since the last time the Brewers saw the Pirates, they’ve gotten rid of the majority of their team. Hopefully, this will bode well for Parra and he’ll be on point again tonight. Hopefully.
If the SI.com reports I read last night are true, the Brewers are one of the frontrunners making a play for starting pitcher Roy Halladay. And, if the reports are true, former Top 10 Hottie Manny Parra could be packing his bags for Toronto.
Now, I’m just a fan. I’m no baseball expert and I certainly have no say in who goes where and why. But again, really?
Clearly the Brewers starting rotation isn’t as strong as it could be, but why send off someone like Parra, who’s had nothing but good starts since his stint down in Triple A? Of course, adding Halladay to the rotation would do anything but make it worse and, understandably, the Crew could desperately use a helping hand. For a team that’s been lingering with 4 (sometimes) quality starters and 1 Mike Burns, it would be a huge plus to have a set starting rotation, something that Milwaukee’s been lacking for the majority of the season.
But is there another option that the Brewers are willing to part ways with? I’m not so sure. Right now, Parra is the choice to say goodbye to, and probably rightfully so. Dave Bush is currently on the DL and will hopfully be able to pitch to his ability sooner rather than later, and neither Bush nor Parra should be forced to the bullpen should the Brewers relieve a reliever of his duties to bring Halladay on. I’m okay with Parra being the odd man out, it would just be weird to see him in a uniform other than the Brewers, that’s all.
Now, if the Brewers do acquire Halladay, letting go of a pitcher isn’t the only way they’ll get him. I think Milwaukee is currently overloaded with infielders, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world to see Alcides Escobar go. There’s no room for him unless JJ Hardy gets shipped elsewhere in the near future. And we all saw what trading away top prospects for starting pitching did for the team last season. I don’t think anyone is holding their breath to see it happen again this year, but in a division that’s as wide open as the NL Central, why wouldn’t the powers that be do everything they can to snatch it up while it’s still up for grabs? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m just as concerned about the future of this team as I am the here and now, but why throw away the chance when you’ve got it? The Brewers are great at growing their own players in the farm system. I think they’ll be okay if they let a couple go here and there for the greater good of the team.
All I’m really saying is, the starting rotation for the Brewers this season has been a question mark since parting ways with CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in the off-season. I don’t think too many people expected them to do well with the rotation that was set back in April, and that’s starting to become a reality. The Brewers need a solid starter to help them finish out the season if they intend to stay in the NL Central race until October and if Roy Halladay is the one they need, then by all means, I hope they do everything they can to get him.
Next Up: Braves at Brewers. Javier Vazquez (7-7, 2.86 ERA) vs. Manny Parra (4-8, 6.37 ERA)
Alright, so it’s just past the half-way point in the season and the All-Star break is a mere 6 games away. I shouldn’t be too worried, but alas, my team has given me some concerns.
1. Is it completely impossible for the Brewers to take a series against the Cubs?
I mean, come on. They’ve faced each other 10 times so far and the Brewers are down 3-7. They play 7 more games before the end of the season, too. Now, I’m not saying this is an entirely horrible outlook, but I’m kind of thinking about the next 6 games. It would’ve been nice for the Brewers to come home with some momentum, a little mojo working in their favor–is that so much to ask?
2. I would like a new starter before the trade deadline, please.
So would Ryan Braun. I know the Brewers aren’t going to pick up another CC Sabathia, but another arm out there would be extremely helpful. Will Milwaukee be buyers? Win a few more games, and the answer is probably yes. Is Doug Melvin and Co. ready to talk? Not quite yet. All I’m saying is using your bullpen to start games while Manny Parra takes a mental health break and Dave Bush’s arm is fatigued, or whatever, isn’t working out too well. Mike Burns started 3 games so far, only 1 ending favorable for the Brewers. Seth McClung is a reliever and let’s leave it at that. As evidenced by the opening and closing games of this most recent Cubs series, allowing 14 runs isn’t going to help win games. At least Burns didn’t allow all 7 of his to come off the same bat. Don’t you think after a 3-run Derrek Lee homer you’d be a little more careful with the bases loaded, McClung?
3. Run support needs to happen in all games–not just that occasional blowout.
Saturday’s 11-2 win over Chicago was great. We all know I love to see games like that. But what’s been killing me lately are the 1-run losses. Last week’s 1-0 loss to the Mets was weak. Yovani Gallardo pitched a hell of a game and he deserved a much better fate. Friday’s 2-1 loss (besides being a total joke. That was a strike, sir.) was just sad. It’s inexcusable the amount of men left on base there have been in losses like those. I’m not saying powerful offense is the only way to go, but when your starters are struggling (minus Yo) and the holes in the rotation are being filled with relievers, the offense needs to step up more than usual. Yo and Jeff Suppan gave great starts in each of those games and they were both squandered by the inability to play small ball.
But okay, before I become a total Debbie Downer, there is something positive I must comment on.
Congrats are in order for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for making it to the 2009 NL All-Star team! We fans did all we could to get RB that starting spot in left field for the second year in a row. And you gotta love Charlie Manuel for bolstering that roster with heavy hitters like Prince. I’m thinking maybe the NL could win this year? Maybe?
And also, thanks to Matt Snyder of fanhouse.com for giving some well-deserved props to some guys that didn’t get the All-Star nod. I know he’s not eligible this year, but Casey McGehee has been putting up better numbers that a lot of guys in the infield so far this season. So, no All-Star game, but Rookie of the Year, anyone? Also, thanks for mentioning Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers may not have the best rotation lately, but Yo has been proving himself again and again and I agree that he could’ve been a valuable asset to Manuel’s team.
The final 6 games before the break will be played at home and the Crew faces 2 of only 4 teams to have a better record than them in the NL, the Cardinals and the Dodgers. I’m not entirely worried, but I’m glad to have ranted a bit.
Tomorrow night’s match-up: Gallardo (8-5, 2.75 ERA) vs. Wainwright (8-5, 3.32 ERA).
Lately, it seems that’s all a team needs to make fools out of the Brewers. Lucky for them, New York didn’t have any to send to the mound in this series. That, coupled with nearly all of their A-squad on the DL, and they pretty much handed the series win to the Crew.
Brewers 10, Mets 6
If it weren’t for Carlos Villanueva, I would say Monday night’s was one of the best games of the season so far. Instead, it was just a really good game with a bit of a blemish.
The Brewers finally rejoined the hit parade, nearly tying their season high of 20. That game was the 15-3 blowout in Cincinatti back in May. Aside from the high hit count, this game had something else in common with that one: the grandslam.
Casey McGehee had the honor in the bottom of the 6th–sweet redemption from the lazy pop-up that entered, then promptly left, his glove in the top of the frame.
But, being the diehard gamer that he is, McGehee didn’t seem to even acknowledge the grandslam. He was too busy mulling the error that eventually led to 2 Mets’ runs to even think about what he’d just done. Either way, he was beckoned back out by the thankful crowd and he reluctantly obliged the curtain call. It was nice to see his post-game interview, too because, one, I’ve never seen him smile or heard him speak and two, I wanted him to show some pride over what he’d accomplished. Way to go, Casey!
There were other things working for the Brewers that night, too. JJ Hardy went 4-4, including a solo HR. Jason Kendall went 3-4 with an RBI, and even when McGehee was taken out, Bill Hall was shockingly able to produce. Hall stepped up, going 2-2 with 2 RBIs.
Villanueva, as I mentioned, was the lone dark spot on an otherwise great game. After Todd Coffey and Mitch Stetter worked a combined scoreless 1+ inning, Villa gave up enough runs (including a Gary Sheffield 2-run shot. Boo.) to warrant a trip to the mound from Trevor Hoffman. Ordinarily, I’m not opposed to seeing Hoffman, but with a 7-run lead going into the 9th, I’d rather not have to. Instead, he comes out with 2 on and 1 out, and with one pitch, the game is over and the shirts are untucked.
When all is said and done, Milwaukee leads the NL Central by 1. Awesome.
Brewers 6, Mets 3
Mike Burns vs. Johan Santana. Hmmmm….
This game did not go as many wouldn’ve expected it to. Although, it started that way.
Burns gave up a 2-run homer early in the first to David Wright. His remaining 6+ innings were basically flawless.
Santana, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. A series of hits in the 3rd ended up scoring the first Brewers run on a Ryan Braun RBI. One inning later, I found myself hoping for another grandslam. Santana walked Burns on 4 straight pitches then Corey Hart doubled on the most hilarious outfield slip I’ve seen in a long time. (I kid you not. The fall that Fernando Martinez took was classic. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard.) JJ Hardy followed with a walk to load the bases for Braun.
What happened next may as well have been a grandslam, as far as I’m concerned. But I’ll take what I can get.
Braun doubled on an 0-2 count to Gary Sheffield. Burns and Hart scored easily, but a throw to the plate to catch Hardy was deflected past Omir Santos to Santana, allowing the third run. Santana then overthrew third on an attempt to tag Braun out and, despite not technically being a grandslam, that 4th run scored anyway. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy after that play, for I was home alone, screaming like an absolute maniac. (Can you blame me?)
Three innings go by with nary a run scored. Somehow Burns is out of the game in the 7th with a mid-90’s pitch count, while Johan remains in the game, over 100 pitches, and proceeds to give up a solo bomb to Prince Fielder. Just a little insurance, I guess. Looks like Jerry Manuel wasn’t thinking too clearly by leaving Santana in to start the bottom of the 7th. He finally exits the game after that.
A myriad of pitchers come out for both teams and the Brewers narrowly avoided an 8th innings Mets’ threat. And because Hoffman worked a grueling 1-pitch game the night before, it was Coffey on the mound to finish it off. A nice double-play ball put the first 2 outs on the board, but I guess Martinez wanted to make up for his embarassment back in the 4th and hit a homer to the Tundra Territory. Ah well. Too little, too late.
The game ended one batter later, preserving Burns’ first Major League win.
The Brewers now lead the Central by 2 games. Awesome.
Brewers 0, Mets 1
Apparently Yovani Gallardo can’t catch a break against the Mets. The poor guy pitches another great game, yet loses again in a 1-0 shutout.
Newly appointed Top 10 Hottie Ryan Church was responsible for the single RBI of the game, and Gallardo was tabbed for the loss.
Despite outhitting the Mets 7-5, the Brewers were unable to capitalize and give Yo what would’ve been a well-deserved win.
Gallardo struck out a career-high 12 batters in 7 innings pitched. That’s twice as many as Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey.
And Fielder was caught stealing. Shocker.
The Brewers currently lead the Central by a game and a half. Still awesome. Hopefully the Cardinals will get swept.
The Brewers final roadtrip of the first half is a 4-game series this weekend in Chicago. The Cubs have been faltering lately, so I’m not too worried the Crew will come home with their lead in tact. But before the All-Star break, the Cards and Dodgers come to Miller Park. That leaves a bit up in the air. But, as I said in my last post, the second half is relatively easy for Milwaukee. Hopefully the lead will still be theirs come October.
Tomorrow’s match-up: Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09 ERA) in a rare Thursday night game at Wrigley.
I was working all day, so I missed this one. But I turned on the TV when I got home and the Brewers Live postgame was on.
I tuned in just in time to hear Craig Coshun talking about the Citgo homerun tally going up by 3 today. B effin D. It’s the runs total that needs some help.
Now, you all know I’m a big proponent of homeruns. I need the action and excitement of offense, otherwise I have a tendency to get bored. Also, my fingernails take a hit during those back and forth pitcher’s duels. What really gets me is that the Brewers have dropped 5 of the last 6, being outscored 38-22, after sweeping the Indians with crazy-high numbers.
You also know that the pitching staff is taking a beating lately. Manny Parra was sent to Triple-A after a few horrid starts, Dave Bush is currently on the DL with “arm fatigue” (better known as “giving up too many homeruns”) and relievers Mike Burns and Seth McClung have been inserted into the rotation. But it can only get better. Right?
So what does this tell you? It’s less than 3 weeks until the All-Star break and the Brewers are slipping, that’s what. And they’ve still got series against Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles before that break even arrives.
It’s not to say they can’t pick themselves back up. I keep telling myself they’ve got it pretty easy in the second half. Except for those 3 series against the Cardinals. And one more in LA. And a couple against the Cubs, which is really just more of the stigma of a rivalry than it is really a concern of mine, since the Cubs are having major issues of their own right now.
While Milwaukee slipped to second in the NL Central, they’ve also fallen behind in the Wildcard for the first time in I don’t know how long. Well, the WC wasn’t really a worry since they were in first in the NLC for so long. But the rest of the season after the All-Star break, aside from the series I’ve already mentioned, is against teams with worse records than the Brewers.
Soooooo, I’ll just have to repeat the Yost-like mantra: “They’ll be fine.”
Afterall, the Crew plays Washington 8 times in the second half. That’s pretty much 8 guaranteed wins, as far as I’m concerned.
They’ll be fine.
I’m gonna keep this brief. If I go into details, I may just be liable to go off the deep end.
Brewers pitching (Mike Burns notwithstanding) =
Monday night: we’re all aware of the outcome. Jorge Julio is no longer a member of the team because of it. Brewers lose to Marlins. The End.
Tuesday night: 10 runs on 11 hits in 3 innings for Manny Parra. Ken Macha makes a solo visit to the mound, Parra proceeds to give up more hits and runs, including a Cody Ross grandslam. Ouch. Brewers tack on 2 more runs. Too little, too late. The End.
Wednesday night: Brewers score 9 early, chase the starting pitcher mid-batter, take advantage of patience and errors. Braden Looper subsequently falls apart and the lead eventually falls to within 3 runs, prompting what should not have been an outing by Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman remains perfect in saves opportunities. Brewers narrowly win. The End.
And yet, somehow, after all that, Milwaukee still holds a game lead over St. Louis for first in the NL Central. Mind-boggling.
Tonight the Brewers are sending Dave Bush to the mound to face one of another inordinately tall Florida pitcher. I don’t care which one. They’re all monstrous, and none are particularly outstanding. I’m hoping they can salvage a split, but if the game ends up going downhill again, at least there’s always the Stanley Cup Finals.