Much has been made about Kameron Loe‘s status as Ron Roenicke’s eighth inning guy. It’s not hard to understand why at all — Loe blew the Brewers second big lead of the last two days, his fifth “blown save,” and continued a trend of ineffectiveness this season. Loe’s ERA rose to 4.83, and although his peripheral numbers are very good — 3.65 FIP, 3.04 xFIP — it’s clear why Loe’s results have been so poor: Ron Roenicke has utterly no understanding of how to use him.
In Monday’s game, Roenicke brought Loe in to pitch the eighth inning once again. The next four hitters in the Arizona lineup — Miguel Montero, Sean Burroughs, Juan Miranda, and Gerardo Parra — were all left-handed hitters, and every single one of them hit line drives or, in the case of Miranda, a hard fly ball. Naturally, the group went 4-4, only salvaging Loe from further damage by running into two outs on the bases.
We shouldn’t be shocked at all. Thanks to this outing, lefties are now hitting .263/.333/.434 against Loe, whose fastball-slider combination is death to righties — a .247/.299/.346 line, for reference — but largely ineffective against opposite-handed hitters.
Perhaps Roenicke hadn’t really noticed because the other shoe hadn’t dropped yet. Sure, we’d seen hitters like Joey Votto and Carlos Beltran and Carlos Pena hit Loe hard, but prior to Monday’s appearance, Loe’s line against lefties was a rather respectable .222/.300/.386. But his BABIP was .246 compared to a league average of .291, a mark of impending regression. We just couldn’t have seen it coming this fast. After Monday’s drubbing, Loe’s BABIP against lefties sits at .310 — about what we’d expect from a righty with heavy platoon splits.
Really, we should expect things to turn pretty soon for Loe. He’s getting tons and tons of ground balls, he doesn’t struggle with the walk, and his stuff is good enough to get a decent amount of strikeouts. His main problem has been an inability to strand runners, an issue that tends to even out over the course of a full season.
But this evening out won’t happen if Ron Roenicke keeps throwing Kameron Loe out in these situations, with lefty after lefty after lefty merely because it’s the eighth inning. Many managers like assigning inning roles to pitchers, and it certainly can work — stability in the bullpen is a great thing. It only works when the talent assigned the role is capable of getting the job done, though, and Kameron Loe just isn’t the kind of guy who can handle any situation thrown at him. He is a situational pitcher, and until Ron Roenicke figures out what Ken Macha had right the entire time — Loe faced five righties for every three lefties last season — offenses will continue to bludgeon Kameron Loe.
The other shoe has officially dropped. It’s time for Ron Roenicke to adjust.