It's pretty easy to pick out what's wrong with this year's team. Rickie has been terrible (although recently it appears that he's fixed whatever ailed him). We're decimated by injuries. The bullpen has slumped. I've given Rickie plenty of attention, and there's not much to say about injuries, so that brings us to the final problem - the pen. Here's a numerical look at what's changed since last year.
First of all, there are the personnel changes. LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, and Sergio Mitre are gone. Estrada is pitching in the rotation. Lots of changes in the supporting cast, but they don't add up to much.
Percentage of bullpen innings by reliever, per year:
|John Axford||17%||John Axford||13%|
|Marco Estrada||12%||F. Rodriguez||15%|
|Kameron Loe||16%||Tim Dillard||15%|
|LaTroy Hawkins||11%||Kameron Loe||15%|
|F. Rodriguez||7%||Jose Veras||15%|
|Sergio Mitre||7%||Manny Parra*||15%|
|Tim Dillard||6%||Vinnie Chulk||4%|
|Takashi Saito||6%||Mike McClendon||4%|
|Zach Braddock*||4%||Juan Perez*||3%|
|Brandon Kintzler||3%||Wily Peralta||0%|
|Eulogio De La Cruz||3%|
I'm not sure what this says, other than the Ax is being used less often due to a smaller percentage of save situations, and that Ron has a handful of guys that are used pretty interchangeably based on who's available or needs work. At some point you'd expect certain guys to distinguish themselves and get more work than others, and the guys with the best numbers right now are K-Rod and Loe.
Very simply, the pen this year is giving up a lot more hits and walks (but not home runs) and striking out a few more people. They're not any worse off at letting inherited runners score, but they are getting into their own trouble more often and left in long enough for runs to score.
Wins and losses don't mean anything, but the bullpen has already been tagged with 18 losses (they were 23-23 last year).
Last year, Axford, Hawkins, K-Rod, Saito, McClendon, and De la Cruz all had ERAs under 3. Together they accounted for 47% of relief innings. This year so far the lowest ERA belongs to Loe, with 3.38.
Last year the Brewer bullpen faced an average of 4.23 hitters per inning. That number is up to 4.56 this year. K-Rod is leading the team this year with 4.24 hitters faced per inning.
Either we are not getting the calls, or everyone is having control issues. Walks are up across the board, from 2.8 BB/9 to 4.33 BB/9. Before you assume it's control issues - strikeouts are also up by about 10%, and HR/9 haven't changed.