Casey McGehee’s Slump: Regression or Fatigue?

June 13, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Milwaukee Brewers Casey McGehee  looks to the stands after striking out at the plate against Rangers starter Colby Lewis..Milwaukee Brewers lost to the Texas Rangers 2-7,the Rangers took 2-3 games in the series at Miller Park..Mike McGinnis / CSM.

Casey McGehee was bound to come back down to earth.  As good as he was last season, there was no way he was going to be able to keep up the .305/.372/.573 pace he was hitting in April, and even the .297/.355/.468 he hit in May was a bit over his head (although probably closer to his true ability).

Regression was going to happen, but I don’t think anyone was predicting anything as sudden as this.  Heading into Friday’s game in Colorado, McGehee was hitting .161/.213/.304 in June.  That’s only 14 games, you might say, and you’d be right — it’s a small sample, and chances are he’s getting unlucky with a June BABIP of .175.  But if you go back to the last 4 weeks, McGehee is hitting just .191/.230/.319 in the past 28 days.

McGehee’s platoon splits are also starting to go downhill.  He’s still hitting lefties for a .293/.353/.672 line this year, but is showing signs of struggling against righties, hitting .262/.322/.403. 

Before tonight, he had played in 63 of the Brewers’ 66 games.  Perhaps simple regression explains much of his problems at the plate lately, but fatigue could also be an is, sue (it might also explain his increasingly sloppy defense).  It may not be a bad idea to give him regular days off by giving spot starts to Craig Counsell or Joe Inglett.  Counsell is putting together another decent season off the bench, and while Inglett hasn’t played third base since 2008 with Toronto, he might be passable enough if he’s only getting a start there every once and awhile.

This is something that’s bothered me about Ken Macha for a little while.  He’s been more than willing to give young players like Carlos Gomez and Alcides Escobar multiple days off a week, either to rest them or protect them from especially tough right-handers, but when it comes to the veterans he hasn’t been giving them nearly enough rest.  Aside from McGehee, Rickie Weeks had played in 65 of 66 games heading into Friday.  That’s absurd for a guy who’s never played in 130 games in a season.

It’s been frustrating seeing McGehee fail in big RBI opportunities, like the first inning of tonight’s game against Colorado.  With him slumping so badly, it may be time to at least move him to a different spot in the order.  After playing in so many games so far, though, the best thing for him may be an extra day or two off every couple of weeks, perhaps when the Brewers are facing a tough right-hander and could use an extra lefty in the lineup.

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