Consider the Bullpen Hole Filled | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Entering the All-Star Break, the Brewers somehow managed to blow not one but two leads of six runs. Perhaps it isn’t fair to characterize the entire Brewers season by those two games, but outside of John Axford, the Brewers bullpen failed to carry its load.

Just a month ago, Kameron Loe was entrenched as Milwaukee’s “eighth inning guy,” the receiving end of jokes and homers off the bats of lefties alike. Zach Braddock, the Brewers would-be left-handed anchor, bounced between poor MLB performances to the disabled list to the minor leagues. With LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito injured for extended periods, that put bullpen pressure on guys like Marco Estrada and Tim Dillard. Both pitchers are deserving of spots on Major League rosters, but teams run into trouble when relievers of such a quality are forced into high leverage situations.

The Brewers were no exception. Thirty days ago, the bullpen owned a pitiful -2.5 WPA, among the worst marks in the league, even in spite of John Axford’s +2.0 as part of his consecutive save streak. Simply put, the middle relief could not be counted on to get outs, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the offense and the starting rotation.

Enter Francisco Rodriguez. When he was acquired at the All-Star break, it was largely seen as a minor move, but it’s been so much more. Rodriguez’s performance alone has justified taking on his salary, as he has a 2.45 ERA and a 1.65 FIP. But more importantly, he has stabilized a shaky bullpen. Takashi Saito can be used sparingly as a relief ace, as his age and skill necessitates. LaTroy Hawkins is pushed to the fourth option. Kameron Loe can finally be used as a righty specialist instead of as the eighth inning guy.

So there should be little surprise the Brewers bullpen ranks as the fourth best in WPA to go with a 3.14 ERA since Rodriguez joined the squad . With two aces for the late game and three high-quality veterans to clean up what’s left, the Brewers have gone from the cardiac kids to one of the most formidable bullpens in the league.

Even without a lefty.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Jason says: August 11, 2011

    I think enough time has passed to say picking up K-Rod was a big deal that has worked even better than expected. It cannot be overstated how important it was to get Loe into an ancillary role. This especially shows up in their road record. yes, the Brewers starting pitchers and batters were a little worse on the road than at home, but that should have still translated into a .500 record. What killed the Brewers on the road was the horrendous production of the bullpen. Through losses and blown saves, the bullpen cost the Brewers about 12 road games this year. If melvin hadn’t made this trade to fix the bullpen, the Brewers would not be where they are right now.

  2. Kris says: August 12, 2011

    Usually I, like most people, am not a huge fan of paying bullpen pitchers top dollars that can be used on more valuable players. I’m amazed that we were able to rework K-rods contract and use him to our liking as he’s been very useful in high pressure situations. It also helps that Saito got off the DL at almost the exact same time and our quickly became a strength rather than the glaring weakness it use to be.

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