Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bullpen Dilemma

After a frustrating loss in the series finale to the Houston Astros, it seems a little odd on how the Brewers have been managing their bullpen of late.

Braden Looper was pulled after the sixth inning with the Brewers leading 5-4. Ken Macha decided to give the ball to Claudio Vargas to protect a one run lead in the 7th inning. Vargas walked one, but kept the lead after tossing a scoreless frame.

After the Brewers then failed to score in the 7th, Macha sent David Weathers out for the 8th. Weathers was slated to face Berkman (switch hitter), Lee (righty), and Blum (switch hitter). After walking Berkman to start the inning, Weathers was able to strike out Lee and get Blum to groundout. With a base open at first, the Brewers elected to pitch to Hunter Pence, rather then walking him and going after Ivan Rodriguez. Pence proceeded to hit an opposite field two run home run, giving the Astros a 6-5 lead.

Rodriguez had been a terrible hitter this season and has seen his power completely diminish. It's tough to think why the Brewers pitched to Pence with Rodriguez waiting on deck.

The thing that seemed so surprising was that the Brewers didn't elect to use Todd Coffey. Coffey has been lights out this season and has been an excellent setup man. So why did the Brewers use him?

Coffey was getting an off day because he had pitched in the first two games of the series. This is the biggest problem that I have had with Ken Macha this season. Macha has considerably overused his better arms in the bullpen.

The first two games of the series, that Coffey both pitched in, were well in hand. Coffey pitched the 7th inning on Friday night with the Brewers already up by eight runs. Coffey then tossed a scoreless ninth inning with the Brewers winning by four. I can understand using Coffey in yesterday's game, but there was no reason that he should have pitched on Friday night. Why use one of your best bullpen arms in a game that is well in hand? He was forced to go with Weathers tonight because he wasted Coffey when we really didn't need him.

Macha needs to learn to trust the other members of the bullpen. There is no pitcher on the Brewers that Macha should be worried about protecting a large lead. It not only frustrating that we could have won today, but that he might be overworking these guys and hurting their arms for next year.

Claudio Vargas is a pitcher that should be inserted in a mop up role, not Todd Coffey. Today's result could have been different if Macha would have been smarter on Friday and Saturday.

1 comment:

Hnarrator said...

Completely disagree with your opinion on the bullpen usage. Coffey was really good in the first half, but has struggled recently without a doubt. As for using Weathers and Vargas instead in setup roles, well that's why we got them in the first place, in particular Weathers. And as for pitching to Pence I see where you're going, but I would never feel comfortable giving the tying or winning run as it was in this case a free pass. And it's not like Weathers threw him a mistake that Pence turned on, it was just a damn good piece of hitting by Pence.