Since that improbable nine-game win streak, the Milwaukee Brewers have lost 14 of their last 19 games. They haven’t won a series since the Pirates came to Milwaukee and have been swept twice by the best teams in the NL Central. While the offense hasn’t been elite — with the exception of Carlos Gomez and the inimitable Jean Segura — much of the blame rests on the pitching.
The starting pitching has been a problem but J.P. Breen outlined what needs to be done, so I think we’re all set there. The Milwaukee bullpen has had some success with a middle-of-the-pack 3.65 ERA. But Tom Gorzellany is hurt, John Axford isn’t getting much better and Mike Fiers continues to give up home runs like he has too many in his pocket.
So the obvious answer is Francisco Rodriguez?
(Our own Jaymes Langrehr wasn’t impressed at the proposition last month.)
It is difficult to believe that after posting a 4.38 ERA and seven blown saves in 2012, the Brewers organization is willing to hire K-rod because he looked good in four minor league innings. Ron Roenicke even admitted : “…I don’t know if he’s quite where he was last year…” Oh, well that’s a relief. Let’s not hold him up to the gold standard that was K-Rod’s 2012.
The Closer Problem
John Axford and Rickie Weeks compete on a daily basis to draw the ire of Brewers fans. After the initial struggles with mechanics, Axford has gotten a lot better with not much to show for it. In early April, J.P. Breen noted Axford’s changed release points and the consequent lack of sliders. Almost on cue, Axford changed some of his mechanics (see? I’m telling you pitchers: listen to J.P.), started mixing in some sliders and even had a couple of 1-2-3 outings.
But what matters in the end are runs, and John Axford has given them up at the rate of one per inning. After giving up the game tying run in Tuesday’s game, it is obvious that, no matter what change he’s made, Axford is not a reliable pitcher.
Jim Henderson is on the other end of the spectrum enjoying a 1.06 ERA with seven for seven in save opportunities. However, he has been somewhat lucky with a .225 BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play) and zero home runs despite a measly 35% ground ball rate. Part of the success has also been due to the outstanding defensive plays by the Milwaukee outfielders; such as the one Ryan Braun made in game two of the series.
At some point, Ryan Braun cannot continue to make these plays and Jim Henderson will blow a save. And when he does, K-Rod, Mr. 30-Pitches-of-Terror will be there, lurking in the shadows.