Posted by Steve
We have finally reached the home stretch of this absurd Milwaukee Brewers season. Since I declared that 7-5 over their last 12 games would get the Brewers in the playoffs, they have gone 2-4. Yuck. Many gave up on the team, particularly after the awful loss to the Cubs in the final game of the series, and I can’t say I blame them. Just when I was thinking about throwing in the towel myself and shutting down my posting for awhile, they won on Sunday as the Mets lost their second in a row. Suddenly, the Crew was a game and a half back, and I was intrigued once again.
Then came last night’s Cubs-Mets game, and all of a sudden Brewer Fever is back. I’ve gotten my hopes crushed plenty of times by this team, so I figure opening myself up to one final emotional bludgeoning won’t do that much more damage.
The Brewers let everyone back in the wildcard race because they choked big time, but now the Mets are trying to return the favor. With a one-game deficit and six to play, all focus should be on trying to reach the one-game playoff on Monday. I’m not ruling out the possibility of winning the wildcard out right, but unfortunately, the odds of that are quite low.
I do not envy Dale Sveum at the moment, because he has to find some way to patch together a pitching rotation and actually win games in the process. All of a sudden, you could argue the Brewers’ most dependable pitcher is Dave Bush. Sabathia has still been good, but he’s actually been human and just started on short rest. Sheets’s status is in doubt for the rest of the season. Jeff Suppan turned into a batting practice machine. Manny Parra seems cashed. McClung is ok but hasn’t built up enough stamina to go more than five innings at best.
After Bush’s start tonight, starters for the remaining five games are listed as TBA. Ben Sheets won’t pitch until this weekend if he pitches at all. Sabathia could go tomorrow if the Brewers wanted to pitch him on three day’s rest again, and if they wanted to do it a third time, he could also pitch the finale on Sunday. Suppan may not even see the mound, and I would say the same for Parra unless it’s in garbage time.
Since I have been known to criticize Brewers managers, however infrequently it may be, I figure I should offer up my own suggestion.
I would not start Sabathia on three day’s rest again, and especially not for a third straight time. If the Brewers did that, they’re running the risk of rendering their best player ineffective, risking said player millions and millions of dollars and in the event that the Brewers do make the playoffs, tiring him out for the post-season. Give CC his full day’s rest and start him Thursday. If you reach the play-in game, you can bring him back on short rest then to start that game in Shea.
As for Wednesday, I’d probably go with Suppan. It’s an ugly option right now, but before his last three terrible starts he was solid in August. Plus, if you have to pitch Suppan once more this season, better having it against the Pirates than the Cubs. Give him the shortest leash possible, and have DiFelice or McClung ready. I would also be just fine with DiFelice getting the start, because Mark DiFelice is the man (1.09 WHIP in the majors, 0.9 WHIP in AAA this year) but I figure Sveum will never do something this “radical” that he could be criticized for.
The hope is that Ben Sheets can go on Saturday. If he can, I would piggyback Yovani Gallardo and Carlos Villanueva on Friday for three or four innings each. Yes, by the way, Yo should be coming back for the last week! Hopefully that provides a big boost.
If Sheets can’t go Saturday, we’ll see a lot of three inning stints over the last few weekends. Between Gallardo, Parra, McClung, DiFelice and Villanueva, you could fill a lot of innings over the last five games. Get one you can for one game out of one of those, give him a day or two off and lather, rinse, repeat as needed.
Like I said, I don’t envy Sveum. It won’t be pretty, but I do like each of the pitchers in that group.
Here I go with the must-win thing again. Tonight is a huge game for both the Brewers and the Mets. It is for the Brewers because if they can get a win tonight, they should feel comfortable holding Sabathia back until Thursday. If they lose, they may feel like their hand has been forced and move him up to pitch once again on short rest—not what I want to see. It is for the Mets because tonight’s pitching match-up is Johan Santana vs. Sean Marshall. That’s like a lion against a wounded zebra. If the Mets don’t win, they’ll have a four-game losing streak with Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden looming in the back half of the series. By the way, Zambrano and Harden pitching those last two games against the Mets will of course mean they will not pitch in the series against the Brewers. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. By the way vol. 2, if Sean Marshall beats Johan Santana tonight, I’ll want to kiss his goofy-looking face.
Finally, I was hesitant to mention this, but I will. The Brewers have lost the last seven games I have attended, and I am going to the game tonight. If they lose and you feel the need to blame me, I only ask that you keep your comments relatively clean.