The number one rule of typical sports fans seems to be always blame the manager or one of the coaches if the team is performing poorly. Now while I do not necessarily agree with that stand point, I will see to it that it can be validated in certain ways. For the Milwaukee Brewers, pitching coach Rick Kranitz hasn’t come under as much fire as manager Ron Roenicke, but that doesn’t seem right.
I’m not saying Kranitz should be fired immediately, but someone needs to take a step back before 2013 completely spirals into the ground.
Pitching has really been the Brewers’ Achilles heel in the past two seasons, but in two different ways. Last year, the problem was that the bullpen couldn’t hold a lead to save (no pun intended) their lives. This season, the bullpen has been fine, but the starting pitchers are getting pummeled each time out. Clearly there’s some sort of problem here and not a whole lot of answers.
First, starting with Yovani Gallardo, the clear problem with him is his inability to even get into the 7th inning. Actually scratch that, getting into the 7th inning seems to be a long standing goal with this team and it’s completely absurd. Gallardo is by no means what one would categorize an “ace” as, but he’s no doubt the face of the Milwaukee rotation. A typical number one starter should be able to get into the 7th inning with ease, yet Gallardo’s only pitched a complete 7th inning once out of 11 starts this season. He’s been absolutely dreadful in May, hosting a 5.54 ERA alongside a 0-4 record and averaging 5 2/3 innings a start.
Aside from Gallardo’s struggles, the rest of the rotation still has a glaring problem. Marco Estrada who was given a tremendous boost of confidence, fit in the two spot in the rotation and hasn’t looked like his 2012 self, which let me tell you isn’t good. Estrada has a 4.94 ERA. It’s so funny with Estrada who will throw seven innings of one-run ball, then get tagged for eight runs two starts later. Inconsistency seems to be the righty’s downfall, but he does lead the team in wins with four and strikeouts with 54.
From the third spot on, it’s just really up and down. There’s the veteran Kyle Lohse who started off well, but has seen an ever so slight increase in his ERA from an average 2.60 to 3.76, which still leads the starters. Now obviously it’s still early, but the fact that Lohse has been tagged for 10 runs in his last three starts is uncanny. Wily Peralta has just been flat out bad and possibly the worst pitcher in the rotation this season so far. He just can’t seem to get anything working and his bloated ERA of 6.35 is nothing to write home about.
The last spot in the rotation has been such a mix-up between Hiram Burgos (who is currently on the 15-day disabled list), Mike Fiers and possibly Chris Narveson once he returns. Burgos started off well, but had that monstrous game against the Cincinnati Reds where he gave up 10 earned runs. Fiers just hasn’t been decent from the starter role, but seems to do well in long relief. Narveson I believe is needed in this rotation not just for his experience with the team before, but the fact that he’s a left-hander.
So am I nitpicking with this team? Do I think Kranitz needs to be fired? No and no, but there’s some obvious reasons as to why Kranitz may feel his seat becoming warmer. This is an entire pitching staff that ranks in the bottom part of the entire Major Leagues this season as they rank 26th in ERA (4.47) , 23rd in quality starts (22), 24th in WHIP (1.37) and 26th in opponent’s batting average (.267). Clearly this pitching staff as a whole needs some serious work done if they want to compete.
I’m not trying to say Kranitz is the problem with the pitchers, because face it, for some of these guys, it’s their first year starting from Opening Day on. There’s an entirely new bullpen that fortunately for the time being, is working all right together. The starters have just not fared well really against anyone and with the way things are going, it may take a miracle to change their struggles. If things really don’t change, then Kranitz may be finding the exit door in Miller Park a lot sooner than he anticipated.