Most things in baseball are inter-related. The Brewers are finding that out the hard way, and if you want proof, just look at how they got swept by the Braves.
Bad defense has become synonymous with the Brewers the past few years, and despite the additions of Alcides Escobar and Carlos Gomez — two players with reputations for above-average defense — things may have actually gotten worse this year. Prince Fielder continues to decline defensively. Casey McGehee‘s lack of athleticism at third is apparent. Rickie Weeks is still below-average at second, despite Willie Randolph constantly working with him. In the outfield, Corey Hart is nothing special in right, and Ryan Braun is still taking horrifically bad routes to flyballs in left.
Bad defense leads to extended innings and more runs allowed, which leads to shorter outings from starters.
Yovani Gallardo has only gone 7 innings twice this year — in his other 6 starts, he’s gone 6 innings three times and 5 innings three times. Needless to say, it’s not good when your ace is constantly leaving three or four innings for the bullpen. Randy Wolf has been able to last a bit longer, throwing a pair of 6.2 inning outings to start the year and posting a season-high 8 IP in a game the Brewers eventually lost to the Pirates. Dave Bush does have a pair of 7 inning outings, but also has a 3.2 IP stinker on his game log.
Doug Davis, though, should be arrested for murdering the bullpen. His IP for each of his starts this year? 4.0, 3.1, 4.2, 6.1, 4.0, 5.1, and 5.2. That’s a total of 26.1 innings the bullpen has had to pick up in Davis’ 7 starts.
Short outings kill your bullpen’s effectiveness.
These guys aren’t built to carry so many innings. They’re at their best when they only have to pick up two innings per game, giving most of the guys plenty of rest in between outings. WHen your rotation is constantly only working 5 or 6 innings, more guys have to work back-to-back days, and sometimes they have to work back-to-back days more than once a week. Their arms are going to be fried before long, and as Tom Haudricourt noted, this past series against Atlanta shows just how cooked the relievers are.
So you want to know why the Brewers are four games under .500 overall and a league-worst 4-11 at home? Bad defense leads to short starts, which leads to an overworked bullpen, which leads to late-game collapses. And that’s not even taking into consideration just how punchless this offense is with Ryan Braun out and Fielder struggling to find his power.