Where Did the Brewers Go Wrong?: Part 3

So far, we have tackled the Cardinals scoring first in every game and the errors.  This afternoon’s episode: The Shaun Marcum Game 6 Decision.

You did not need to be a baseball expert to know that Marcum was probably the worst possible option to pitch in a “win or go home” game.  The month of September showed us what was looming on the horizon.  Over the course of the season, his ERA slowly began to rise.  On June 22nd, Marcum’s ERA was a solid 2.95.  From that date forward, he gave up more and more runs.  The only bright spot for Marcum during that stretch, was back to back shutout performances against the Cardinals and the Astros at the end of August into the first week of September.  It was all down hill from there.

First let me say, this is not an article bashing Marcum.  My goal in this article is to provide stats that will justify why Roenicke made the wrong call in starting Marcum in Game 6 of the NLCS.  Shaun Marcum is an excellent pitcher and he is a large part of the reason the Brewers were in the postseason at all.  I look forward to having him back next season and do not doubt his abilities in the slightest.  Sometimes pitchers slump, the same as hitters do.  When a guy is in slump, sometimes the skipper has to sit that guy down.  Roenicke set Marcum up for failure.  Shaun does not deserve half of the criticism he received for that game.  The other playoff games though…

Let’s look at September.  In the final month of regular season play, Marcum gave up 18 runs.  Which was more than he had given up in any other month all season.  There were back-to-back 5 run outings against Philadelphia and Colorado (both losses) during the midst of the Division race.  Marcum ended his regular season with..hmm, what is worse than a thud? 

Shaun’s regular season ended with a splat, as he gave up 10 hits and 7 earned runs to the Pirates, in only 4.2 innings.  Now, on any given day a team can beat you.  But the Brewers have owned the Pirates for the past 5 years.  I mean this game should have been a playoff tune-up for Shaun, maybe 7 innings and a few runs.  Instead, our boy took an absolute thrashing from the Pirates.  After that game, I find it hard to believe that Roenicke and Kranitz did not sense that something was a little off with Shaun. 

That aside, the Brewers won the division and were headed to the playoffs.  In the first round they would be facing the Arizona D’Backs.  Marcum was scheduled to start Game 3 in Arizona.  This made sense because Marcum had been dominant on the road during the regular season, but had been the opposite way at Miller Park.  Since the Brewers handled Games 1 and 2 with relative ease, I think most Brewers fans thought that we would sweep the D’Backs and move right along.  Whoops!!  It kind of went the other way on that one.  Marcum was awful in Game 3.  Just about as bad as you can possibly be (at that time anyway, it got much worse).  Not only did he give up a Grand Slam, but he gave up the Grand Slam to a rookie.  Now, let’s not get confused.  The ball was not pulverized, but it was hit to the opposite field and it was clocked at about 84 mph.  Which in MLB terms is what I would refer to as a “meat pitch”.  Marcum threw an 84 mph “fastball” right down the middle of the plate.  Talk about a home run derby pitch.  Juan Pierre might be the only major leaguer who does not rip that out of the park (because he has 16 HR’s in 12 seasons).  Marcum looked gassed in the first inning, where he gave up two runs right away.  He left the game sporting a 13.50 ERA and a 7-1 deficit for his teammates to try and crawl out of.

The Brewers reached the NLCS after unnecessarily stretching the DS into a 5 game series.  Shaun was slated to start Game 2 at Miller Park, where his ERA was almost a run and a half higher than it had been on the road this year.  If you do the math on this, an extra run and a half, when he just gave up 7 runs…that equals Bad News Bears.  Marcum pitched 4 innings, while giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, with just 1 strikeout.  The guy looked exactly like Suppan did against the Phillies in the 2008 NLDS.  It just so happens, that I have Suppan’s line right here: 3 IP, 6 H, 5ER, 3 K, and my personal favorite 3 home runs.  As you can see, Marcum had a first class ticket to Ass Kicking, USA.  Do you know why we study history?  Generally, history is studied to assure that we do not make the same mistakes twice…unless of course you are Ron Roenicke. 

As Ron Roenicke sat in his big cushy airplane chair, riding back to Milwaukee after a dismal performance in Game 5, what was he looking at?  Did he not see the fact that Marcum only had one quality start in his past 6 games?  Was he not watching Game 3 of the NLDS or Game 2 of the NLCS?   Shaun was done.  You are talking about a guy who has never had to pitch into October.  The fatigue was so evident that it has been almost two weeks and I still can not believe that Roenicke let him take the mound that day.  There was NO evidence to support that decision.  None.  I would love to sit down with Ron and have him justify this decision to me.  Marcum does not deserve criticism for Game 6, but RRR should have to hear about it all off-season and he will.  Why wouldn’t you put your best pitcher on the mound?  Yo Gallardo threw Game 3, which was on the 12 of October.  Game 6 was on the 16th.  So let’s count together, that is 1…2…3…3 days of rest.  Why on earth did you think that it was ok to throw Greinke on short rest earlier in the playoffs, but not your obvious playoff Ace?  Gallardo in Game 6 and Wolf in Game 7  gives you a fighting chance to go to the World Series.  But Roenicke set his team and his pitcher up for failure, then made no apologies for it.  Rookie manager indeed.   

Ok, sorry that this got long, but this one that I clearly am still harboring some anger about.  I thought the Cardinals scoring first in every game was the one that I was the most upset about.  Clearly that is not true.  Hopefully I have excorcised some of my demons on this. 

Tune in tomorrow for Part 4, same Brew time, same Brew site.

Tags: 2011 NLCS 2011 NLDS Brewers Brewers Bullpen Brewers Hitting Brewers Pitching Jeff Suppan Randy Wolf Rick Kranitz Ron Roenicke Shaun Marcum Yovani Gallardo Zack Greinke

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