On days when Jeff Suppan starts, I’m going to have a good amount of negativity in me. However, Milwaukee managed to avoid a sweep against the Cubs today, so I suppose we should start out with something positive.
The Brewers just flat out hit the ball today. Their line: 14/41, 2 2B, 2 HR 8 BB. That’s a triple slash line of .341/.431/.537. Braun was the obvious star, going 4-5 with a walk, a HR, and 3 RBI. Gregg Zaun looks like he’s starting to get back into form, as he had a 3 hit game with a double. Perhaps most impressive to me, though, is Casey McGehee’s line from today. McGehee only had one hit in his three at bats today, but it was a 3-run home run, and he walked in his other two plate appearances. He also showed impressive patience, seeing a team high 31 pitches in his 5 plate appearances.
And really, Jeff Suppan’s day wasn’t that bad. He recorded 7 swinging strikes in 81 pitches, an 8.6% rate which ranks as slightly above the average for starters. He struck out 4 batters while only walking 1. He even drew 5 ground ball outs.
However, Suppan still struggled when the Cubs made contact. Of the 16 balls put in play against Suppan, a whopping 11 of them were in the air, and that never bodes well – especially at Wrigley Field with the wind blowing straight out. Suppan got punished twice, once by Derrek Lee and once by Marlon Byrd, and the Cubs made a ton of solid contact, hitting 4 line drives aside from the home runs. Even if Suppan manages to keep the Ks up and the BBs down like he has, he gives up solid contact far too often in order to be more productive than he was today. I don’t think it’s a function of stuff – the swinging strikes suggest that he’s actually slightly deceptive, especially with the changeup, which drew a remarkable 4 swinging strikes on 20 pitches. I think it is instead a function of location. Again, I go to Brooks’ Baseball‘s Pitch F/X tool.
The enlarged light blue points denote hits.
Four of the six hits, including the two home runs, came on pitches over the heart of the plate. Of the other two, one was just off the plate but belt high, and the other was just low but right down the middle. Not great location. Those pitches are just asking to get hit out of the park.
Still, it’s hard to really complain anytime your team wins a game with a pitcher like Jeff Suppan on the mound. I don’t expect it to happen too often this year, and the Brewers got this one against a supposed ace. Drink it in, Brewers fans. Jeff Suppan just beat the Cubs.