Assessing the bullpen damage done by Colorado


So clearly we’ve found a problem this early. The bats are still awakening, the starting pitching is having its ups and downs, but there’s not a lot going for the Brewers’ bullpen at the moment. Yes, it’s still only April and early in the season, but our losses are sometimes coming late. The only guy in our bullpen who hasn’t consistently struggled is Jose Veras and hopefully he can keep that up. John Axford has looked a bit shaky in closing out some games, already blowing two saves in five attempts with an ERA of 7.71. Francisco Rodriguez did pretty well after the first week, but in his last four innings of work, he’s given up four runs. The efforts of Tim Dillard and Manny Parra have been hard to get through, and I hope Mike McClendon can get the job done in Marco Estrada’s place. If the bullpen keeps struggling like this going into May, which is only a week and a day away at this point, this may be a long season for Brewers’ nation.

The series against Colorado did not go exactly as planned for the most part, especially since it is in our current home stand. Here’s a more in depth look at each game:

Game 1: Colorado 4, Milwaukee 3 :

While it started off as a rough first two innings for Shaun Marcum, the game eventually went in Marcum’s favor as he was able to settle down after the second. In the end, Marcum pitched a decent ballgame, six innings, three earned runs on eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts. After Marcum came Jose Veras. Veras pitched well, going one inning, walking two and striking out two without allowing a hit or a runner to score. In the eighth, K-Rod took over because at this point it looked as if this game was going to go into extras. In the eighth, it’s a  3-3 ball game and K-Rod shuts down the Rockies one, two, three. Then comes the ninth, and Axford comes in. He gives up a single to Jason Giambi (later replaced by Eric Young Jr.) who scores on a Michael Cuddyer single. The Brewers can bring nobody across in the bottom of the ninth.

Win: Matt Belisle (1-0), Loss: John Axford (0-1), Save: Rafael Betancourt (4)

Game 2: Colorado 4, Milwaukee 9

This game marked Marco Estrada’s first start of the season and he did fairly well. What surprises me, is Estrada only went five innings on 78 pitches. Maybe he’s not used to starting yet, but who really knows. In the sixth, the game is 1-0 Brewers until Manny Parra implodes, allowing two runners to score, walking one and only lasting two thirds of an inning. After him comes Mike McClendon, who is on the roster due to Chris Narveson’s injury. McClendon pitched to the heart of the Rockies’ order. He allowed Troy Tulowitzki a single and walked Todd Helton before retiring Michael Cuddyer. The sixth was finally over. The seventh saw our most consistent relief guy in Jose Veras who pitched a perfect seventh while striking out two. Tim Dillard would pitch the rest of the game, allowing two hits (one being a Todd Helton homerun) and struck out two. Needless to say, the bullpen allowed three runs out of the four that Colorado scored. While we may have won that game, a bullpen giving up three runs after the fifth/sixth inning is a concern.

Win: Jose Veras (2-0), Loss: Esmil Rogers (0-1)

Game 3: Colorado 4, Milwaukee 1

So I think Colorado likes the number four, considering that’s how many runs they scored in this series. What’s sad is Milwaukee outscored Colorado 13-12 and still lost the series. Yovani Gallardo went seven strong innings, only allowing one run on six hits and striking out eight. At this point, it’s a 1-1 tie heading into the 8th. Ron Roenicke decides that K-Rod, being the eighth inning man he is, can shut down the Rockies like he did in Friday’s game. However, that is not the case in this game. Michael Cuddyer (this man tore us apart) doubles which scores Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi. At this point, the Rockies have a 3-1 lead. Heading into the bottom of the inning, the Brewer bats are held in check. The top of the 9th would mark the MLB debut of Wily Peralta (currently replacing Kameron Loe). In his debut, Peralta would throw 17 pitches, 10 for strikes. He allowed one run on three hits and struck out one. However at this point, the damage was already done in the 8th.

Win: Jeremy Guthrie (2-1), Loss: Francisco Rodriguez (0-2), Save: Rafael Betancourt (5)

So, this series was just a sample as to how the bullpen has been performing. Late runs are never good sign, especially when the offense is sluggish at times. Saturday’s win was great, but still showed us that our middle relief needs help. For the time being, Jose Veras has been able to hold the fort down and it’ll be interesting to see how Mike McClendon can fare in his time up here. Unfortuantely for Wily Peralta, I don’t think one inning of work is a fair assessment of him. I believe we’ll see him later this year, especially if our bullpen explodes and there is nobody else to turn to. I make that sound like Peralta is an option only if need be, but he has talent so he can make it up here on his own. Going into our series tonight with the Astros, I really hope we can pull two out of three in this match-up, I really do.

Until next time guys and gals.