“It’s not just the rotation, Ryan”
Now that Milwaukee Brewers All-Star leftfielder Ryan Braun has publicly blasted his own starting pitching staff, perhaps he should turn his attention to the rest of the team.
Help appeared to be on it’s way with a solid outing Thursday from recently recalled Manny Parra and Dave Bush beginning a minor league rehab assignment. So just when it looked like the Brewers might get some relief for the starting rotation, the bullpen decided to stop providing any.
Set -up man Carlos Villanueva has suddenly forgotten how to get anyone out and even closer Trevor Hoffman has been shaky lately (possibly due to infrequent use), blowing his second save of the season last night against the L.A. Dodgers before Villanueva came on to complete the torch job.
And the hitting doesn’t get completely absolved either. We knew from the outset of the season that the limitations of the pitching staff would require that the offense carry much of the load this season. That makes it all the more imperative that the Brewers take advantage when they receive a good pitching performance. Lost in the bullpen meltdown of Thursday’s game was the fact that they could manage only 3 hits off St. Louis starter Joel Piniero. The day before they let Todd Wellemeyer, who had the worst ‘batting avg. against’ in the National League, hang around for 4 innings when they could have chased him earlier. Even last night, the Brewers had two bases loaded situations when they could have blown the game open yet came up with only two weak singles and two sacrifice flies against Dodgers ace Chad Billingsley. True, that’s better than it could have and has been but last night it certainly wasn’t good enough.
Another old bugaboo that has cropped up lately is shaky defense. The Brewers have committed errors in 6 of their last 7 games. When a pitching staff is struggling those errors become even more magnified. With Casey McGehee hobbled and 38 yr. old Craig Counsell being forced to play virtually every day at second base, the All-Star break can’t come soon enough.
At least Brewers fans can take some solace in the fact that the Cubs are continuing their season long incompetence for now. They just need to hope that the Cardinals don’t run away with the division before they get themselves squared away.