Joe Saunders is a bad pitcher. He was never very good; he topped out at average in 2006, and is in the midst of his worst Major League season. He doesn’t draw ground balls, doesn’t avoid contact, and doesn’t have excellent control. He has a 6.00 xFIP against right handed batters this year.
This is exactly the kind of pitcher the Brewers lineup should destroy, as its filled with above-average but not superstar right handed bats (Hart, Weeks, McGehee) as well as Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, two guys that destroy any kind of pitcher.
Saunders was lucky to get out of the game only allowing two home runs and six total runs – he gave up a whopping 14 fly balls to Brewers hitters, including Braun’s grand slam blast, McGehee’s home run off the glove of Torii Hunter, and George Kottaras’s double off the right field wall.
Randy Wolf was mired in a similar season to the one that Saunders is having. Both have xFIPs in the low 5s, although Saunders hasn’t given up quite as many home runs. Wolf, however, had a major bounce back start. Not only were the results excellent (3 H, 3 BB, 2 K in 7 IP), but Wolf drew 14 ground balls in the 20 total balls in play he allowed. Step 1 to allowing fewer home runs is to keep the ball out of the air in the first place, which Wolf did an excellent job with. Perhaps Rick Peterson is getting through?
Still, Wolf only drew one swing and miss and two strikeouts. He’s going to need to strike out batters with more regularity in order to repeatedly have starts like this, as he hasn’t really been a ground ball pitcher in his career.
The win brings the Brewers to 3-4 in interleague play, and 27-37 overall, still 9 games out of first place.