Friday, October 14, 2011

Brewers deal with good and bad

Lot of folks think that the Brewers just needed to win one at St. Louis. Mission accomplished, they're thinking this morning, tonight we play with house money. I disagree. Tonight's game is really important. Here's why.

Shaun Marcum.

I regard tonight's game as a wash. Greinke is a better pitcher than Garcia but he's not as good on the road and Garcia had a 2.55 ERA at home. Let's say we lose. The good news is we come home for two. The bad news is that we have to win them both.

Yovani Gallardo will start one of those games and, notwithstanding his lifetime 1-8 record against St. Louis, I don't see him losing twice to those guys - not at Miller Park.

But doesn't Shaun Marcum have to start one of those games. In his last six starts, Marcum is 1-4. He has pitched 33 1/3 innings and given op 30 runs on 46 hits. That is beyond bad. Given that he is a good pitcher, you have to conclude something is wrong. He's either hurt or his mechanics are fouled up. Unless it's the latter and you are pretty sure you've figured out (and I don't see how you can be), he can't be thrown out there again.

There are, however, no good alternatives. One would be to go to Gallardo on Saturday on three days rest and then bring back Wolf on three days rest. I think you do that only if the Cards win tonight.

If they don't and you've got a game to lose in Milwaukee, maybe you go with Marcum and take him out at the first sign of trouble backing him up with Narveson and Estrada. Another idea would be to go with Estrada or Narveson in the first instance. Roenicke's reluctance to start Narveson because he has not pitched regularly (three starts in the past month) is understandable, but is that a bigger risk than running out Marcum again? (For the curious, Narveson was 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA against the Cards this year.)

Of course, baseball has a way of fooling in you. Games can't be reduced to whomever is starting. I am pretty concerned if we lose tonight but here's a bit of hope. Isn't LaRussa's bullpen set to run out of gas?


Nathan Petrashek said...

I don't think Marcum has pitched as badly as most seem to think. Sure, he put the Brewers in the hole on the road in Arizona, but his last start against St. Louis - despite the results - was actually encouraging. In essence, he just got beat by good hitting, and that will happen. It happened to Wolf last night, too; the home run pitches were actually very well located.

I've got a more thorough analysis of the Marcum issue on my Brewers blog:

Hope all is well, Prof.


Rick Esenberg said...


Duly noted. Nice blog and good analysis. But here's the thing. He's gotten rocked in five of his last six starts. I don't think you can ignore that. I agree that Morgan should have made those two plays in the third last Monday but they would have been great plays and the balls were hard hit. He did get some good defensive plays behind him. My recollection is that there was at least one running save play and a third out on a steal attempt. Your point about pitch location is well taken but I think he's leaving them up high in the zone too often.

My only hope with Marcum is that somebody has figured out what he's doing wrong (I don't subscribe to the dead arm theory either)and can fix it. But I just don't think good hitting can explain such an extended period of poor performance.

Nathan Petrashek said...

It isn't good hitting entirely; I didn't intend to suggest that. Marcum flat out didn't pitch well against the Diamondbacks, or against the Pirates before that. But he's had good starts mixed in with the bad and we tend to overlook that. The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning toward the pitch selection. Get back to basics and throw the change, because an 87-89 fastball isn't going to fool anyone.

Meanwhile, this game is absolutely brutal to watch. You knew defense was going to cost this team some runs, but good glory, this entire series has been dreadful. Hopefully they've got it all out of their system now.