After playing a doubleheader in which both starting pitchers failed to go 6 innings, the Brewers’ bullpen looks like it will be working shorthanded for the rest of the roadtrip (barring a roster move in the near future). To make matters worse, they have two specialists taking up spots in the bullpen, and neither seems to be able to do his job effectively.
When you look at Green’s stat line, it’s pretty clear he’s struggled to get batters out. You don’t need to know a lick of sabermetrics to see that when it comes to this year’s numbers — coming into Wednesday, Green had allowed 12 hits and 8 runs (7 earned) in just 10.2 IP, walking 6 batters and throwing a wild pitch. Quite frankly, it’s hard to take Ron Roenicke seriously when he says things like “he had been throwing the ball well.”
If Green is supposed to be a ROOGY — a guy out there only used to get right-handed hitters out — his lack of production has been even more offensive. So far this year, he’s allowed a .343 OBP to right-handed hitters. That’s bad for any pitcher, let alone one who’s supposed to specialize in getting those guys out. His numbers against left-handers are predictably worse, allowing an OBP of .375 to those hitters before the doubleheader. Lest you think this is a case of small sample size, Green’s career numbers aren’t much better — a .330 OBP for opposing right-handers, and a .404 OBP for opposing left-handers.
Stetter’s 2011 numbers have looked a lot better than they have in the past and he’s “okay” as a left specialist, but the Brewers aren’t (and haven’t been) in a position to use a roster spot on a specialist who’s just “okay” — especially when it comes to a LOOGY, who might only throw one total inning a week. For it to be worth it, your LOOGY has to be able to make those outs against tough left-handed bats in high-leverage situations.
Stetter hasn’t shown an ability to consistently do that. In facing 195 left-handers in his big league career, Stetter has allowed an OBP of .306. I wouldn’t call that terrible, but it’s not great, either — that’s based off of 31 hits (13 for extra bases), 23 walks, and 5 hit batters coming into Wednesday. That’s far from the definition of a shutdown LOOGY, and even less acceptable when you consider just how hittable he is against right-handed batters, who have a career .380 OBP against him.
It’d be easier to keep either around if they were at least serviceable as full-inning pitchers able to get both lefties and righties out, but we’ve seen what happens when that issue is forced with Green. Ideally, neither would be on the roster, but Zach Braddock is on the disabled list, Manny Parra is dealing with more elbow issues, and Mike McClendon has been banished to Nashville while Green costs the big league club games. In a perfect world, McClendon would replace Green, and Braddock would replace Stetter once he’s off the disabled list.
The Brewers had little room for error at the start of the year before the injuries started piling up. Choosing to go with a roster that doesn’t maximize talent and depth — in both the bullpen and on the bench — only makes things tougher. Not impossible, but tougher.
UPDATE: There goes one of the two I mentioned — Green was optioned down (it sounds like it’s a shock to almost everyone that he had options left), and McClendon was called up.