What do the following pitchers have in common?
John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Cain, Cliff Lee, Eric Bedard, Josh Johnson, Jake Peavy, Paul Maholm Scott Kazmir, Aaron Harang, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matzuaka, Aaron Cook, Gil Meche and Zach Greinke.
All are making less money than the $12,700,000 being paid to Brewers staff “ace” Jeff “Sordid” Suppan. The list does not include young stars like Francisco Liriano, Tim Linceum, Cole Hamels, Chad Billlingsley, Felix Hernandez, John Danks and Edinson Volquez who have not been in the league long enough to be included.
Now, which of these pitchers would you NOT take instead of Suppan? There, my friends, lies the story of the 2009 Brewers. Suppan’s line over two starts reads like this: 0-2 7.2 IP, 11ER, 7BB, 2K, 12.91 ERA. Ouch!
While he certainly is not the sole reason for the Brewers 2-5 start (Braun, Fielder and Hardy need to start hitting), he symbolizes the kind of year it’s going to be for the club. Everyone who knows anything about baseball knew the pitching on this team was going to be challenged.
On Sunday against the Cubs it was downright painful watching walk after walk. The Cubs scored 4 runs off Suppan in one inning with only one hit. That includes a four pitch walk by Jorge Julio to the first batter he faced.
It took the Brewers 20 years to be on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. After that pathetic showing it will be another 20 years before they are on again.
The early season topic among baseball talking heads is the alarming increase in the number of walks being issued. It’s too soon to discern the reason for this epidemic but if the trend continues all year be prepared for two things: long game times and the Brewers pitchers leading the league in this dubious area.
While the season is only a week old, the shortfall of pitching will have the club out of the race by the All-Star Game if something isn’t done to fix it.
On a sidenote, Milton Bradley pulled up lame during Sunday’s game. It only took six games for him to first opt out. No one should be surprised. I refer to an earlier article (The Curious Case of Abreu) that documents Bradley’s history of walk-in clinic ailments.
Also, the tragic death of Nick Adenhart and the heart attack suffered by legendary announcer Harry Kalas took excitement out of the start of the season and sent a profound message about the mortality of all of us. RIP.