If you recall, I wrote a post a few months ago about the offseason trade between the Brewers and Pirates, in which the swapped third baseman Casey McGehee for hard-throwing righty reliever Jose Veras. I went over the positives and negatives of the trade, and how Veras would affect the Brewers in 2012. I believe I concluded by saying he would help the Brewers in the place they needed it: the seventh inning role.
So far, though, that hasn’t happened, and only the negatives of the trade have emerged.
Veras is struggling, to say the least, especially recently. In that wild 13-inning game two days ago, Veras entered the game in the seventh with a 1-0 lead. After getting a quick out, he gave up a triple, hit a batter, then gave up a walk. Ron Roenicke decided he’d seen enough, and handed the ball over to Kameron Loe, who promptly gave up a go-ahead grand slam (although the Brewers would come back and win the game). Veras also pitched in today’s game, but it wasn’t much better- he gave up yet another run on two hits. His ERA has been ballooning lately, and, after today, it sits at 7.20. That is not what you want to see from one of your setup guys.
Now, we knew the wildness was coming. Veras’ career BB/9 is 4.9, which is extremely high, especially for a reliever. But he’s gotten away with it most of the time, because his K/9 is 9.2, which isn’t bad. So far in 2012, though, both of those stats rose. Veras’ K/9 right now is 10.9, which is great, but it gets negated by all of the other stats. His current BB/9 is a whopping 6.4, which is just flat-out unacceptable. He also has an 11.6 H/9. So, if you add up all of those walks and hits, you get a WHIP of 2.000.
Yep, he’s averaging two baserunners per inning. No wonder he’s getting hammered so badly. Normally, I would say get him the heck out of the bullpen before his ERA reaches 10. But who would they replace him with? Mike McClendon and his 10.13 ERA? The Brewers’ bullpen depth- and the guys they have in the bullpen right now- is awful. They can usually rely on Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford late in the game. But K-Rod has had a questionable start to the season, racking up three losses already. And Axford blew is first save since April of 2011 last night, and his ERA isn’t sparkling too much right now either. So I guess I shouldn’t just be bashing Veras right now- our entire bullpen is crap.
Anyway, like I said earlier, the Brewers received Veras in exchange for McGehee, who was a star for two years with the Brewers before his average dropped 60 points in 2011. He isn’t doing the greatest for Pittsburgh right now, hitting .262 with no home runs and four RBIs. But that’s still a higher batting average than our entire infield combined.
So I’m starting to wonder if the Veras trade was a bad decision, which is the way it’s looking right now. I’m confident Veras will get better as the season goes on, but it’s a matter of when he gets better, and if it’s too late by then.
Whether or not he gets better, though, that still really doesn’t change the fact that our bullpen is not a strength. We have Axford, Rodriguez, Veras, Tim Dillard, Manny Parra, Loe, and Vinnie Chulk (although I doubt he’ll be up for much longer). Parra’s having a solid season, but he’s a long reliever, so that doesn’t really help in hold/save situations. Other than him, though, literally everybody is questionable. I’m hoping Doug Melvin makes another blockbuster move by the trade deadline to get a reliever (we also need infielders), otherwise this is going to be a very long season.