As the season nears the All-Star break, I’m sure the Milwaukee Brewers are pondering what to do with their dreadful starting pitching. As I mentioned in my pre-season analysis, starting pitching will make or break this team and in the last month or so it has been downright ugly.
The stats for the past ten starts:
W-L/IP/IP per G/ERA/WHIP
Jeff Suppan 4-3/55.1/5.5/4.05/1.78
David Bush 2-4/55/ 5.5 /6.22/1.38
Braden Looper 3-4/55.2/5.5/6.35/1.37
Manny Parra 3-6/50.1/5.0/7.34/ 1.97
Yovani Gallardo 4-3/55.1/5.5/3.09/1.37
I separated Gallardo because he has remained consistently better than the others and has respectable numbers, although his walks allowed could be lower. Further, he has been matched up with the opponents’ ace more often than the others and his holding his own. Over his past 10 starts, he has pitched against Paul Maholm (team won 7-4/ND), Wandy Rodriguez (team lost 6-4/ND), Chris Carpenter in perhaps the best pitched game in the majors this year (team lost 1-0 in 10 innings/ND), Jair Jurrgens (team won 3-0/ W/ 2 hitter), Aaron Cook (team lost 5-4/L) and Justin Verlander (team lost 3-2/L).
Parra was so bad he is now in Nashville. Bush declined rapidly from a stellar April and is now on the DL. Looper has no consistency and has been hammered of late. Suppan’s numbers over the past 10 games have been decent, but this followed a truly repugnant April. We should expect more from the $12.5 million man.
Note that the starters on average barely make it into the sixth inning, which is low even in this era of rare complete games. This puts additional stress on the bullpen.
So where should GM Doug Melvin turn for help? The farm system is not the answer. Indeed, the last three call-ups have been retreads from other teams, Chris Narveson (Cardinals), Chris Smith (Red Sox) and Mike Burns (Houston, Boston, Cincinnati).
Chris Cody, a lefthander at AAA Nashville has looked good enough to be considered and may get the call soon, especially if Melvin is unsuccessful in the trade market.
He has vowed not to trade his top prospects like last year when Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley were sent to Cleveland for CC Sabathia.
There is no CC on the blocks thus year as yet and the names that have been thrown out so far all carry baggage: Erik Bedard – injuries, Jarrod Washburn – age and salary, Jake Peavy – strict no trade clause, Mark Hendrickson – no way, Carl Pavano – the same, Gil Meche – big salary
There may be three possible options. The first is Arizona LP Doug Davis whom Melvin has mentioned regretted trading. The second possibility is Oakland LP Dallas Braden, who is putting up decent numbers on a team whose GM, Billy Beane, is always listening to offers. The third is Boston RP Brad Penny who may be expendable when Diasuke Matzuaka comes off the DL.
Any of the three will help bolster the rotation. If none of these scenarios play out, then Melvin might have to seek a blockbuster on the scale of the CC deal. It may mean having to sell the future for the present, which is why Melvin is probably wishing hard that this recent collapse is an aberration.
Don’t count in it.
I doubt that the team will do anything big, but you can bet that they will listen to all offers especially if the team continues to lose traction in the NL Central. The fans had a taste of winning last year and the team has been in first place longer than any other in the division this year. What a shame it would be to sit and hope things get better while watching other teams pass us in the standings.