After a quick start to the month, May quickly went downhill for the Brewers, and the roster looks a lot different now than it did at the start of the month. The bullpen is full of new faces, we have a new starting catcher, and it seemed like half the team dealt with some kind of ailment in the last 31 days. June represents (another) chance to right the ship, but things are looking more bleak by the day for the Brewers. At least this coming month provides us with the draft. Before we get there, though, here’s what went right, what went wrong, and what blew up in the team’s face in May:
The Good: Corey Hart
I can honestly say I don’t remember a Brewers hitter have a hot streak quite like this — not even Braun or Fielder. With his 13th homer of the year on Monday, he has already surpassed his home run total from 2009, and looks like a good bet to surpass his career high of 24 this year. Of those 13 home runs, 10 have come in the past 16 games, including a stretch of three consecutive at-bats spanning two games. He’s hit a walkoff homer, he’s hit a grandslam, he’s had a pair of 2-homer games…he’s increased his trade value to a level we haven’t seen since 2008. Not bad for a guy whose name was being brought up as a non-tender candidate following this season. Here’s to hoping that a.) he can keep this up and b.) the Brewers are smart enough to sell high on him.
The Bad: Starters Not Named Yovani Gallardo
Outside of Yo, the rotation was basically horrible in May. The chronic problem of short starts has the bullpen running on fumes heading into June, and that’s even with reinforcements coming the past couple weeks in the form of Zach Braddock and John Axford. Chris Narveson can’t make it through a lineup three times, which means he tops out at around 5 innings every start. Dave Bush became the first Brewers since Ben Hendrickson to start a game and not finish the first inning. Manny Parra struggled to find consistency while filling in for Doug Davis. Randy Wolf is good for the occasional deep start, but also had his fair share of bad outings (it’s typically not good when your walk total mirrors your innings pitched in a start). If I was better with Photoshop, I’d create a flow chart that would read something like “Short Starts -> Overworked Bullpen -> 6th Inning Collapses -> Losing Record.”
The Ugly: Jeff Suppan
It’s becoming clear that Soup’s time with the Brewers is coming to a close, it’s just a matter of when Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio decide to finally close their eyes and pull the trigger. He stunk in Spring Training this year, but was handed a rotation spot anyway. He stunk. He was moved to long relief, where he could soak up a couple innings in a blowout and hopefully stop the bleeding. He stunk there, too. When the Brewers were finally forced to use him in a high leverage situation, not only did he stink, but he was so spectacularly bad that Ken Macha doesn’t even know what to say anymore.
During his last appearance in Miller Park, fans booed him mercilessly — I honestly haven’t seen the Miller Park crowd turn on a pitcher like that since Derrick Turnbow, and in that case it fractured his psyche so badly that his career crashed and burned. The Brewers have run out of roles in which Suppan could help the team, and it’s pretty clear by now that no matter how they use him, he only enhances their chances of losing — even the players seem to realize that now, as their body language visibly changes when he’s in the game. I realize it will take a lot for the Brewers to own up to this mistake, but they’re running out of ways to delay the inevitable. Sooner or later, they’re going to need his roster spot, and they’re going to have to part ways.