Game 8: CUBS 7, Brewers 6: Questionable Bullpen Management | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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


Really, more like this:

The easy thing to do is to place the blame squarely on LaTroy Hawkins – he allowed 5 straight baserunners, culminating in Kosuke Fukudome’s 2 run single which put the Cubs ahead for good, 7-6. Hawkins certainly had opportunities to put batters away – both Ryan Theriot and Fukudome recorded hits in two strike counts – but he just couldn’t draw the whiffs and two balls which weren’t hit terribly hard just managed to find the holes.

There are currently 8 relief pitchers active on the Milwaukee Brewers roster. They are Todd Coffey, LaTroy Hawkins, Trevor Hoffman, Chris Narveson, Manny Parra, Mitch Stetter, Claudio Vargas, and Carlos Villanueva. Narveson, Parra, and Stetter are all left handed. When Hawkins entered the game, the Cubs lineup contained two left handed batters – Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome. Chad Tracy, who pinch hit, is also left handed, but he’s not good enough that a manager should be concerned about matchups with him. Coffey and Narveson had already been used, leaving 2 LHPs and 3 RHPs available to record 4 outs, three of which would almost certainly be trusted to Trevor Hoffman.

After retiring Marlon Byrd and Tracy, the first two batters of the inning, Hawkins walked Geovany Soto to bring up Colvin, a lefty. By this point, Parra or Stetter already should have been warmed up, as Ken Macha should have realized that after Soto, 2 of the next 3 hitters were left handed – Kosuke Fukudome was in the hole at the time. Hawkins is projected to be a roughly 3.60 FIP pitcher this season – certainly decent, but not the kind of pitcher that should be left in against every opposite hand hitter he faces.

I can understand allowing Hawkins to face Colvin – Hawkins has good stuff and Colvin is a young hitter who hasn’t yet shown the ability to hit in the Majors. However, not bringing in a lefty to face Fukudome is inexcusable. Hawkins is roughly a half-run in terms of ERA worse over his career against LHBs and Fukudome has shown no reason to believe, in his short US career, that he doesn’t exhibit the same platoon splits as most left handed batters.

Especially given Stetter’s tremendous splits – he’s over 2 runs of ERA better against LHBs – I see no reason not to bring him in to face Fukudome. Certainly, one of either Villanueva or Vargas could have came in to the game if necessary after the at bat. Not only that, but Hawkins was over 30 pitches into his outing when Fukudome stepped up. Nearly everything was against Hawkins recording an out in that situation, and it came back to bite Macha and the Brewers.

This bullpen is supposed to be a strength, but it won’t be if Chris Narveson is constantly used against right handers and the rest of the righties in the pen are constantly forced to face lefties. Of course, Hawkins wasn’t on his game today, but the situation in which Fukudome recorded the game winning hit and RBIs was completely avoidable.

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