Posted by Steve
Obviously, the Brewers are playing well in pretty much all facets of the game over the last couple weeks, but the bullpen in particular has been tremendous. Since Hoffman came off the DL, everyone has fallen into place and pitched very well.
Hoffman’s numbers this season are hilarious: 8 innings, 3 hits, 0 walks, 8 strikeouts, 0 earned runs and a .231 OPS against. He has been flawless. That’s not all, though. Take a look at how other pitchers have thrown since Hoffman took over as closer.
Mark DiFelice: .375 OPS against
Carlos Villanueva: .534 OPS against
Mitch Stetter: .467 OPS against
Seth McClung: .570 OPS against
Todd Coffey: .757 OPS against
Jorge Julio: .646 OPS against
I realize we’re only talking about a handful of innings for each pitcher, but the point is that literally every reliever on the team has thrown well since Hoffman came off the DL almost three weeks ago. I’m feel confident with any reliever outside of Jorge Julio, and to a lesser extent, Seth McClung(and if R.J. Swindle replaced Julio I’d feel confident in every reliever).
Ken Macha deserves credit for understanding the strengths of each of his relievers. Stetter is tough on lefties, but unlike Brian Shouse, can get righties out at a decent rate. Villanueva is the best option against switch hitters or a staggered lefty-righty lineup because he can use his slider to righties and his changeup to lefties. DiFelice and Coffey are death to right-handers. More often than not, Macha has put his relievers in favorable conditions that play to their strengths. Again, it’s only been six weeks (I feel like I’ve said that a hundred times), but Macha has been a huge improvement over Ned Yost as far as bullpen management is concerned.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with the rest of this post, but I just wanted to further illustrate how well the team has been playing. Here are MLB rankings over the past week in my fantasy league: Trevor Hoffman 21, Rickie Weeks 28, Ryan Braun 29, Prince Fielder 45.
Before I wrap this up, I once again need to harp on the amazing job Mark DiFelice has done. He has come out of nowhere to become a lockdown setup man. It’s really an great story; the guy spent ten years in the minor leagues, and after adding one pitch (the cutter) to his repertoire a couple years ago he has just taken off. His control is outstanding. He has issued one unintentional walk in 17 2/3 innings while striking out more than a batter per inning–absurd! I love the way he does it too–with a slow, low-to-mid-eighties cut fastball that must drive hitters crazy when they can’t hit it. It’s not like he’s pumping mid-90s heat and wicked sliders up there.
The mancrush I have on him is approaching frightening levels. Aside from sponsoring his B-Ref page, my facebook profile picture is a photo of him. I have to imagine I’m the only person on the planet (aside from DiFelice himself, possibly) who can say that. I may have to order a DiFelice jersey as well. What can I say? I can’t help myself. Just look at him. He’s better than you, he knows it, but he’s not about to make a big deal out of it or anything.