Monday, July 20, 2009

Bullpen Assesment

After a frustrating loss on Sunday, I think it is time to look at the bullpen and the roles that we are giving certain players.

My biggest problem thus far has been the use of Seth McClung in big situations. There was no need to bring Seth into the game yesterday for, not only the 7th, but also 8th innings. Our bullpen was not overworked.

McClung has struggled all season with location of his secondary pitches. At times, it seems that the only pitch that he can get over is his fastball. Yes, he may throw it 98, but it is straight as a string. Major league hitters have no problem catching up to a strong fastball if they have no other pitches to worry about.

With my frustration of "Big Red" evident, lets go on to a more positive note, like the rest of our bullpen. With all of the complaints about Brewers pitching this season, many have forgotten just how good our bullpen has been. It's difficult to remember the last time Brewers fans have felt so confident with a lead after six innings. The Brewers have been able to build a great bullpen with a list that includes only one household name.

Trevor Hoffman has been spectacular for the Brewers all season long. He has only blown two saves, and was named to yet another all star team. What Hoffman has done has been spectacular, but the real key to the bullpen lies in his predecessors.

The back end of the bullpen is equipped with three good pitchers possess high strikeout totals equipped with a low walk rate. The eight inning belongs to Todd Coffey. Coffey, 28, was designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds less than one year ago. All he has done since then is shine in a Brewers uniform. In 47.2 innings, Coffey has struck out 43 while only walking 10. He has limited opponents to a .260 batting average with a two to one ground ball to fly ball ratio.

Mitch Stetter is just one year removed from a season in which he struggled to find the strike zone. What a difference a year makes. Stetter has been almost untouchable this season. In just 30.1 innings, he has fanned an incredible 36 batter while only walking 13. Many of those walks occurred in April, and since then hitters from both sides of the plate have struggled against Stetter. Stetter, 28, has proved more valuable that the Brewers could have ever imagined with his new found ability to get right handers out.

The final pitcher may be my favorite in the Brewers bullpen, Mark DiFelice. DiFelice, 32, never cracked the big leagues until his debut in Boston last may. Ever since that rough outing, Mark has shined in the bigs. His 82 MPH cutter has been the topic of sportswriters who wonder how that pitch gets so many major league hitters out. He is being used primarily in the bullpen as a ROOGY (right one out guy). This is something I cannot understand. Many Brewers fans have begun to think that Mark is unable to get left handed hitters out. This year Mark has held them to a .265 batting average with few power. In his minor league career, he has done much of the same. It is time that Macha becomes more comfortable with Mark and use him in much bigger situations. Mark is not a pitcher that you used in mop up situations.

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