Monday, April 13, 2009

An awful start to my season

By Nicole
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Having last night as my first Brewers game of the season may prove to be one bad omen for the other 24 or so games I’ll be attending as the summer progresses.

I made no bones about my abject dislike of Ned Yost and thus far I’ve been happy with how “un-Ned” Ken Macha has been.

But last night’s seeming refusal to remove a struggling Jeff Suppan from the game smacked of Yost and has left me wondering if we’re in for a season of Ned-like suffering inflicted upon us by Ken Macha.

I can understand that we can’t keep taxing the bullpen and Suppan’s a pro and you have to give him a chance to work out jams when it’s the forth inning. He walks in the first run and it’s time to get someone up in the pen. Macha heads to the mound to by time, Julio starts warming.

I even understand letting Suppan work through this guy. Julio is warming and you still can’t just yank the pitcher. It’s early. You’re giving him a chance.

What I cannot wrap my head around is leaving Suppan in the game to walk in the third straight run. Julio is standing in the bullpen watching – he’s warmed up. By this point, it’s beyond clear that Suppan’s not going to miraculously find the plate. You’ve given him a leash and he’s hung himself and everyone on the team with it. He’s done. Get him out of there.

But no, in a Yostian show of stubbornness, Macha gave Suppan more leash.

I could almost hear the Yost presser comments after the game. “Suppan’s a former World Series MVP….”

The situation was maddening!

No one is happy that Jeff Suppan is one of our starting pitchers. I’d wager even Ken Macha and Doug Melvin wish it weren’t so. Therefore, we can’t help but have him in there every five days until he self destructs so much that they have no choice but to stop pitching him. (Never mind the argument that his performances in SF and last night put him well down that path…)

There are many that have a problem with Suppan being the #1 guy – but even that I can handle. Maybe I’m giving the coaching staff too much credit, but I’ve hypothesized that the move is strategic.

Hear me out on this one:

We don’t have a starter that compares to the aces on other teams. There is no Lincecum, Zambrano, or Johan on this team. Sure, YoGa might get there – but he’s not there yet.

So if we can’t out-pitch their ace, why put our “best” guy against him and “waste” the outing? If we have the better arms to go up against the back end of their rotation, we’ve theoretically got a better chance, right?

It’s not that far-fetched and is, I think, a pretty solid strategy for a pitching staff with low expectations and a high ceiling. They didn’t want to put pressure on Gallardo and therefore wouldn’t name him the ace. If you put him up against the aces of some of these other squads, he ends up with awful stats and who knows what other problems.

Dave Bush has been as reliable of a starter as a market like this could ask for, especially for the minimal money we’re paying him. Keeping him at the back end of the rotation with YoGa in the 2 spot means that you’re going to get solid outings from innings eaters and should give our bullpen a chance to catch it’s breath.

Until Manny can find some consistency and we find out what Looper can do, we’ve got Suppan, Parra and Looper going only 4-5 innings, putting a lot of innings on the bullpen arms. Spreading out Gallardo and Bush just makes sense.

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