Today, against the Astros, the Brewers bullpen pitched 5.2 innings, allowing only an inherited runner on third base to score. That included 1.2 innings from Kameron Loe, an inning each from Mike McClendon and Mark Rogers, and two innings from closer extraordinaire John Axford. Overall, the group struck out three batters, walked only one, and induced an insane 11 ground balls against four fly balls and, most remarkably, not a single line drive.
After putting up 6 runs on Dave Bush in the 5th inning, the Brewers bullpen was effectively unhittable after receiving the call. This just more of what we’ve been seeing over the last 30 days: the Brewers bullpen has a 2.65 ERA over that stretch, and that’s supported by a solid 3.45 FIP and 3.55 xFIP. As a unit, they have struck out over a batter per inning. They’re still walking batters – 4 per nine innings, but they more than make up for it with what is by far the highest ground ball to fly ball rate among bullpens in the league.
Brewers relievers have allowed only 28% of balls in play as fly balls this month while inducing over 56.7% ground balls. The second best GB/FB ratio is the Braves at 1.64; the second best ground ball rate is also the Braves at 50.7%. The Brewers have just been utterly superior at inducing ground balls, and although we certainly can’t be sure that it will continue, it’s a fantastic sign for both the Brewers and pitching coach Rick Peterson.
I’m very excited for the 2011 bullpen. John Axford, Kameron Loe, Zach Braddock, Carlos Villanueva, Todd Coffey, Mike McClendon, Manny Parra, Brandon Kintzler, and more make this Brewers pen one of the highest-potential bullpens and, for at least the past month, one of the most effective bullpens in the league.