Wednesday, August 3, 2011

State of the Bullpen

     Right now, it's a good time to be a Brewers fan. The team has won seven straight, is leading the division by 3.5 games, and everyone just had the privelige of watching Jose Altuve for three games. Even better, you all get a profile of the well-oiled Brewers bullpen, thanks to pitching game logs from Baseball-Reference.

John Axford
Jul 2@MINW,8-711.000232.580.1949b --- 0 out a19b end a 1
Jul 4ARIL,6-811.020172.15-0.3808t 1-- 2 out tie9t 12- 2 out d2
Jul 6ARIW,3-111.00033.910.0699t --- 0 out a29t end a 2
Jul 7CINW,5-401.011062.870.0699t --- 0 out a29t end a 1
Jul 9CINL,4-811.000031.760.1319t --- 0 out tie9t 3 out tie
Jul 15@COLL,0-451.00003.090.0038b --- 0 out d48b end d 4
Jul 16@COLW,8-701.010152.310.0989b --- 0 out a29b end a 1
Jul 17@COLW,4-301.011264.430.0989b --- 0 out a29b end a 1
Jul 20@ARIW,5-221.00113.920.03710b --- 0 out a310b end a 3
Jul 22@SFGW,4-211.000141.600.0779b --- 0 out a29b end a 2
Jul 26CHCW,3-231.000242.580.1559t --- 0 out a19t end a 1
Jul 27CHCW,2-001.00003.910.0699t --- 0 out a29t end a 2
Jul 28CHCW,4-201.00023.910.0699t --- 0 out a29t end a 2
Jul 31HOUW,5-421.000132.080.1559t --- 0 out a19t end a 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/2/2011.

There's not much to look at here. Axford has been handed ninth-inning leads and sat the opposition down as quietly as a closer with a 97 MPH fastball and handlebar mustache can. If you're the type that likes multi-inning saves, too bad, because Axford is probably straightjacketed into a LaRussa-style 9th inning-only role thanks to the presence of Francisco Rodriguez.
Player went from New York Mets to Milwaukee Brewers
Jul 16@COLW,8-771.000141.530.1118b --- 0 out tie8b 3 out tie
Jul 17@COLW,4-301.001252.460.0948b --- 0 out a28b 3 out a2
Jul 20@ARIW,5-221.021162.47-0.3508b --- 0 out a28b 3 out tie
Jul 22@SFGW,4-211.000231.060.0778b --- 0 out a28b 3 out a2
Jul 26CHCW,3-231.000231.560.1178t --- 0 out a18t 3 out a1
Jul 27CHCW,2-001.000141.370.0708t --- 0 out a28t 3 out a2
Jul 28CHCW,4-201.001041.000.0708t --- 0 out a28t 3 out a2
Jul 31HOUW,5-421.011153.26-0.1548t --- 0 out a18t 3 out tie
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/2/2011.

Since being acquired on July , Rodriguez has proved to be a solid setup option despite more baserunners than you would like and pre-trade rumblings by his agent that he would not serve in a nonclosing capacity. There is certainly hope that K-Rod could go on a roll and become something better than "solid", but barring a debilitating injury or freak accident afflicting Rodriguez or John Axford, the chances of him ending the season as something other than an 8th inning guy are slim. However, having Rodriguez in the eighth and Axford in the ninth is hardly a bad thing, whether or not you believe announcers' proclaimations of a "7 inning ballgame".

LaTroy Hawkins

Jul 1@MINL,2-620.10002.16-0.0138b -2- 2 out d38b end d 4
Jul 4ARIL,6-821.010151.89-0.0317t --- 0 out a27t 3 out a1
Jul 6ARIW,3-111.00023.940.0708t --- 0 out a28t 3 out a2
Jul 7CINW,5-401.010051.760.0088t --- 0 out a38t 3 out a2
Jul 9CINL,4-811.000141.480.1038t --- 0 out tie8t 3 out tie
Jul 14@COLL,3-1241.01006.000.0008b --- 0 out d98b end d10
Jul 16@COLW,8-710.120032.61-0.1097b --- 0 out a27b 1-3 1 out a2
Jul 17@COLW,4-301.000042.030.1366b 1-- 0 out a26b 3 out a2
Jul 21@ARIL,0-431.02015.25-0.0438b --- 0 out d28b end d 4
Jul 23@SFGL,2-411.00014.550.0377b --- 0 out d17b 3 out d1
Jul 26CHCW,3-221.000041.340.0937t --- 0 out a17t 3 out a1
Jul 28CHCW,4-211.000041.040.0677t --- 0 out a27t 3 out a2
Aug 1STLW,6-232.002191.070.0647t --- 0 out a38t 3 out a4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/2/2011.

Finally, a reliever without a concrete role! Hawkins has been something of a jack of all trades out of the bullpen, initially bouncing between cleaning up the jams created by tiring starters, seventh, and eighth inning work, seeing more of the former two after the trade for Rodriguez. Hawkins is likely pitching a tad over his head, keeping the ball in the park and successfully relying on a defense that has been anything but reliable. Relievers, especially ones who strike out less than five guys per nine, generally deal with all kinds of variation in their performances, but if hitters start tickling balls into the outfield with greater frequency, there are other options available, like Takashi Saito.

Jul 20@ARIW,5-221.0010503.600.1309b --- 0 out tie9b 3 out tie
Jul 27CHCW,2-020.1000101.130.0327t 1-- 2 out a27t 3 out a2
Jul 9CINL,4-811.0002501.820.0857t --- 0 out tie7t 3 out tie
Jul 7CINW,5-441.000030.580.0437t --- 0 out a37t 3 out a3
Jul 17@COLW,4-311.0001301.100.0867b --- 0 out a27b 3 out a2
Jul 15@COLL,0-451.011060.22-0.0237b --- 0 out d37b 3 out d4
Jul 31HOUW,5-410.1010204.520.0837t 12- 2 out a17t 3 out a1
Jul 29HOUW,4-011.000030.270.0218t --- 0 out a48t 3 out a4
Jul 2@MINW,8-7881.000130.080.0068b --- 0 out d38b 3 out d3
Jul 24@SFGL,1-231.002050.580.0268b --- 0 out d18b end d 1
Aug 2STLL,7-811.0100502.89-0.1197t --- 0 out a17t 3 out tie
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/3/2011.

The elder statesman of the Milwaukee bullpen, Saito was signed with the hope of him being the main 8th inning option, but has mainly been cast as, among other things, a middle reliever since his return from the DL. He has generally been effective in the role, but like Hawkins, too many of his pitches are put in play (skip ahead if you heard this before) to pitch more important innings.

Marco Estrada

Jul 2@MINW,8-732.10217.130.0195b 1-3 2 out d67b 3 out d4
Jul 4ARIL,6-810.10112.660.0139t 12- 2 out d29t end d 2
Jul 5ARIL,3-702.00036.060.0097t --- 0 out d58t 3 out d5
Jul 8CINW,8-721.00003.210.0169t --- 0 out d29t end d 2
Jul 9CINL,4-801.050110.67-0.49310t --- 0 out tie10t end d 5
Jul 14@COLL,3-1242.01048.21-0.0035b --- 0 out d46b 3 out d5
Jul 19@ARIW,11-342.00046.100.0167b --- 0 out a68b 3 out a6
Jul 23@SFGL,2-430.20002.410.0198b 12- 1 out d28b end d 2
Jul 30HOUW,6-261.01005.510.0048t --- 0 out a58t 3 out a4
Aug 2STLL,7-822.010392.27-0.18010t --- 0 out tie11t end d 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/3/2011.

No matter how good a team is, there is still almost always fringy talent around, serving in as futility infielders, pinch runners, and mop-up men, and Marco Estrada is the 2011 Brewers (pitching) answer to Cedric Durst, who posted a .607 OPS in 142 PA for the 1927 New York Yankees. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, as Estrada is a perfectly acceptable swingman, albeit one who is often given innings of far more importance than a pitcher of his stuff and performance should be allowed to pitch. while I understand Ron Roenicke's desire not to burn through his bullpen, there is simply no reason for Estrada to be pitching in an extra-inning tie game, which he has does almost every time the opportunity arises. Roenicke's desire to throw away two games by pitching arguably his worst reliever in high-importance innings until he inevitably blows the game is maddening, especially while other, better bullpen arms are neglected in the process. (I'm talking about Tim Dillard.)

Jul 18@ARIL,0-38-GF(8)180.20114.823.120.0088b -2- 1 out d38b end d 3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/3/2011.

"There are three or four pitchers he doesn't even talk to."
                                                              Johnny Sain, on his manager Mayo Smith in the book Ball Four

This is just ridiculous. After being worked like a galley slave following his callup, Dillard's performance understandably began to suffer. Ron Roenicke chose to respond by tying the righty to a chair in the bullpen and not allowing to pitch, but Doug Melvin insisted keeping him on the roster in case every reliever and starter had already been used and Joe Inglett was unavailable. As a result, Dillard has pitched in one game since June 31 while remaining on the roster, an act of developmental murder not usually reserved for Rule 5 picks. Unfortunately, short of Bob Uecker doing his Harry Doyle bit, looking at this post while shaking his head back and forth and repeating, "One game? One g*$/@&m game?", there isn't much that can be done.

*I'm going to be busy most of next week, so don't look for any new posts until about a week from Monday.

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