Results tagged ‘ roy halladay ’
By: Ryan Smith
I remember watching Monday’s game against the Phillies fearing that a win would once again convince GM Doug Melvin that this year’s Milwaukee Brewers could be contenders. It didn’t matter that the Phillies currently reside in the cellar of the National League East; a win against Roy Halladay could have been just the type of win that Melvin and Manager Ron Roenicke would have used to say that the team was still in it, even though the Brewers just got swept in their “do-or-die” series over the weekend.
Then Roenicke went to the bullpen.You know the rest. One lead blown. Then another. Then another. With the bullpen for this year’s Milwaukee Brewers, no lead is safe.
After Tuesday’s debacle of a bullpen appearance, many Brewers fans started flooding Twitter and Facebook with claims that this had to be the worst bullpen ever.
This got me to thinking: where exactly does this bullpen rank among other historically bad bullpens?
There’s not really one stat that you can look at to figure this out. Some people would argue that Blown Saves would be the place to start, but that isn’t fair to the terrible bullpens on terrible teams. It also doesn’t take a look at the entire picture because the Save didn’t even become an official stat until 1969. You could look at ERA, but that is oftentimes quite dependent on team defense as well as pitcher performance. I’m sure most Brewer fans would make a case for BB/9 because that seems to be the Achilles heel for this year’s squad.
So since there’s no single stat to tell the story, I decided to look at all of them.
Let’s start by looking at Blown Saves. The Major League record for Blown Saves in an entire season is 34 by the 2004 Colorado Rockies, followed by the 2002 Texas Rangers with 33. As of right now, the Brewers have 18 official Blown Saves on the season, three behind this year’s Rockies. The Crew is on pace for 30 Blown Saves over the span of 162 games, which would be tied for seventh all-time. So in the Blown Saves category, the Brewers are up there, but they are not the worst bullpen ever.
Next, I had to take a look at walks and BB/9 because it seems like Milwaukee relievers can’t take the mound without issuing a free pass or three. On the year, Milwaukee relievers have issued 145 walks, which is the third-highest total in baseball. All-time, the most walks ever issued by a bullpen in a season was 347 by the 1996 Detroit Tigers, with the 2000 Pittsburgh Pirates coming in second with 343. in case you were wondering, the 2012 Brewers are on pace for roughly 242 walks, which wouldn’t even be in the top-30 for most walks ever in a season.
If I look at BB/9, I have to adjust what I’m looking at a bit. If you go all the way back to 1871, the 1908 Brooklyn Superbas (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) had a 108.00 BB/9. Of course, if you look closer, you’ll see that the Brooklyn Superbas only had one pitcher make a relief appearance. That pitcher was Pembroke Finlayson, and he walked four batters in one-third of an inning.If you don’t go back any further than 1970, you would find the 1971 Chicago White Sox with a 6.89 BB/9 and the 2000 Pirates with a 5.92 BB/9. Right now, the Brewers have a 4.39 BB/9, which is the second-highest mark in the league behind the Cubs at 5.00 BB/9. So you can see that, while they are one of the worst bullpens this season when it comes to issuing walks, they are nowhere near the worst bullpen ever in this area.
Finally, I had to look at ERA and True Runs Allowed (tERA) to gauge where this Brewers bullpen ranks among the most ineffective units in the history of the game. This year, the Brewers have the third-worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.76. Once again, I had to limit my research to no later than 1970 because the highest 100 ERAs of all-time all occurred before 1970. Using a more modern-day comparison, the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays had a 6.16 bullpen ERA, which easily beat out the ’96 Tigers (5.97). Once again, this year’s Brewers bullpen is bad, but they are not historically bad when it comes to ERA.
The sample-size for tERA is even smaller because this stat wasn’t even calculated until 2002. Even with this smaller window, you can see that Milwaukee’s tERA of 4.79 is only the fourth-worst mark in baseball in 2012. Historically, the ’12 Crew is no match for the Rockies of 2003 (6.37) and ’02 (6.32).
I do want to point out that at no point during this article was I defending the performance of the Brewers bullpen this year. I spent a good chunk of the early months of the season coming to the defense of John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, telling fans to give them time, to have faith.And now, here I am, feeling like a damn fool.
The harsh truth is that we’re more than likely stuck with these guys for the rest of the season. Whatever trade value Rodriguez had going into this last series was pretty much left for dead in Philadelphia. John Axford has looked better as of late, but I’ll believe he’s figured it out when I see it. Manny Parra can’t find a strike zone big enough to hit consistently. Hell, I’m actually happy when Roenicke calls Livan Hernandez on in relief. Frankly, it’s not pretty out there.
The entire purpose of this article was to point out that, while 2012 has been a frustrating year for the Brewers bullpen, it has not been the worst season ever. Maybe Brewers fans were just spoiled by the 2011 ‘pen that always seemed to come through. LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, and Rodriguez locked down innings six through eight, and we all know how dominant Axford was last season. This year has just been one of those years where anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And it seems that much worse after a year of complete domination.
But let’s slow down the talk of the 2012 Milwaukee bullpen being the worst bullpen ever. Those other squads have quite a lead on our guys.
Then again, if there’s one thing these guys can consistently do, it’s make a lead disappear.
By: Ryan Smith
The Brewers had just experienced a four-game losing streak at the hands of the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins. To make matters worse, the Crew only managed to score 10 runs over the course of those four games. Some fans – myself included – couldn’t help but start to wonder if it was too early to be genuinely concerned about this season. At that given moment, the Brewers were pathetic.
Then last Sunday’s outburst happened. The Brewer bats woke up to the tune of 16 runs. Sure, a good portion of those runs came against the very mortal Jason Marquis, whose less-than-stellar performance that day forced him into unemployment. Still, it was nice to see the team wake up at the plate.
For Brewers fans, Sunday’s game was a damn good time.
Helping to lead the charge on Sunday was The Jonathon Lucroy. (I’ve decided to refer to him as “The Jonathon Lucroy” because of the way he’s dominating at and behind the plate this season.) Already having a breakout season, The Jonathon Lucroy continued his success at the plate with a monster performance, crushing two home runs and knocking in seven runs along the way. I couldn’t help but think that Sunday might have been just what the doctor ordered: a game to build some confidence for our struggling lineup.
On Monday, my excitement would be put on hold.
Randy Wolf was pitching.
Now let me point out that I am a fan of Randy Wolf. I was never a big fan of Randy Wolf as the second guy in our rotation, but as our fourth? Sign me up.
My problem with Randy Wolf is George Kottaras.
Let me point something else out: I like George Kottaras. As a kid, I grew up cheering for Milwaukee and Boston, and I’ve continued to do so for quite some time, so I liked Kottaras well before most Brewers fans started using his name as a verb early this season.
My problem with George Kottaras is Randy Wolf.
I can buy into the idea of a pitcher having a “personal catcher” for a few reasons. Tim Wakefield always had a specific catcher in Boston, and if you remember Jason Varitek trying to catch the knuckleballer in the ’04 playoffs, you completely understand why he has his own catcher. I would understand if someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka had a personal catcher because he came to the big leagues with a rumored seven pitches. I would even understand if someone like Justin Verlander or Roy Halladay requested a personal catcher because, well, I’d give those guys whatever the hell they wanted.
But Randy Wolf? As Tom Haudricourt tweeted during Monday’s game, Randy Wolf has exactly eight 1-2-3 innings this season. He’s pitched 46.1 innings thus far. That performance warrants a personal catcher?
Sorry. I don’t buy it.
I’ve heard other arguments for this whole “personal catcher” situation that Wolf and Kottaras have going. I get the idea that giving The Jonathon Lucroy an off-day every fifth game will help save his legs and keep him fresh into September.
But does the situation have to be so rigid? Does it have to be every fifth game? What about every seventh game? Wouldn’t that still give him more off days than other top-tier catchers have throughout a given season?
Or if they insisted on giving him that fifth game off, couldn’t they juggle it around from starter to starter, based on the each game’s pitching matchup?
Monday’s game against San Francisco was the perfect example of my last point. The Giants were sending southpaw Madison Bumgarner to the mound. The Jonathon Lucroy is, quite simply, hitting the crap out of the ball against lefties, sporting a line of .419/.455/.742 in 2012.
The left-handed George Kottaras, in limited at-bats, has a line of .167/.500/.167 against lefties this season. So basically, he knows how to draw a walk against left-handed pitching but isn’t as gifted when it comes to actually swinging the bat in those same situations.
So I have to ask Ron Roenicke one thing: why?
Why take out a guy who is hitting the ball with reckless abandon regardless of where you put him in the batting order? Why give him an off-day against a left-handed pitcher when he might be our most dangerous bat against lefties outside of Ryan Braun? Why not wait and give Kottaras his turn in the lineup against Matt Cain on Tuesday?
Because it was Randy Wolf’s start. And George Kottaras is Randy Wolf’s personal catcher.
Before the game, when asked about possibly changing this philosophy, Roenicke said, “I like them both out there. I think there should be some times when I’d rather put ‘Luc’ in there catching Randy. Tonight would be one of them. But we need to talk to them more about that if we decide we’re going to go that way.”
Once again, sorry. I don’t buy it.
Mr. Roenicke, I’m a fan of yours. I like the style of game you preach to the players. I like your aggressiveness on the bases. I love seeing a suicide squeeze once a week.
But I also know that you’re the manager and they are your players. It is your job to try and put out the lineup that gives us the best chance to win the game on any given night. “We” don’t need to talk about anything if “we” are going to make a decision.
You need to make that decision. The next time Randy Wolf is matched up against another lefty, you need to put out the best lineup possible.
You need to make sure you have The Jonathon Lucroy out there. Because right now, The Jonathon Lucroy trumps any “personal catcher” system that you have in place.
My attention was split tonight between the Packers and the Brewers, but I saw enough of the Brewers game to worry slightly about whether this team is ready for the playoffs.
Rickie Weeks was activated from the disabled list prior to today’s game against the Phillies, but did not make an appearance. That’s a shame, too, as the Brewers could have used him. They were blanked until the fifth inning by Cole Hamels, who allowed only four hits en route to a complete game victory. The only blemishes on Hamel’s outstanding outing came off the bats of Yuniesky Betancourt and Corey Hart, both of whom hit solo home runs.
The Brewers’ recent reliance on the long ball is somewhat troubling. In the month of September, the Brewers have hit 13 home runs, second-most in baseball over that time period. Unfortunately, the team only has a .257 average to pair with that pop. After demolishing the Astros over the weekend by a combined score of 20-4, the Crew’s offense has withered against stronger competition. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook was knocked around for four runs on Monday, but half of those came by the home run. Though the Crew ultimately got a “W” in that contest, the team has lost the last three games; in none of those have the Brewers scored more than two runs. The opposing pitching has been high-quality, but that is precisely the point; in the playoffs, all of the pitching will be high-quality.*
Watch to see how the hitting trends over the next few days against the Phillies, who will trot out Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Brewers have historically hit these regular Cy Young candidates pretty well; Halladay is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA against the Crew, while Lee is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. If the Brewers expect to find themselves playing deep into October, they will need to continue that kind of success against elite pitching.
*Unless, of course, you are the 2008 Brewers, who had to send perennial All-Stars Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the mound.