What is the bullpen status entering today's game?


The Brewers have been relying on the same few bullpen arms in recent days. How does that affect their bullpen?

After yesterday's game, Brandon Kintzler was officially placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to the 9th with a mild rotator cuff strain. To fill the spot left on the roster, Rob Wooten was recalled from Nashville. While this will help the team keep some depth in the short term, they do face another issue when looking at the bullpen overall. This bullpen is on the verge of being overworked.

Let's look at how often the bullpen has pitched in the last week (first number innings pitched, second pitches thrown):

Pitcher 4/6 4/7 4/8 4/9 4/10 4/11 4/12 Innings
# of Pitches
IP Pit IP Pit IP Pit IP Pit IP Pit IP Pit IP Pit
Zach Duke 0.1 4 - - 1.0 21 - - - - - - 0.1 2 1.2 27
Jim Henderson - - - - 1.0 15 1.0 21 - - 1.0 11 1.0 22 4.0 69
Brandon Kintzler - - - - 1.0 17 - - - - - - - - 1.0 17
Francisco Rodriguez - - - - - - - - 1.0 12 1.0 20 1.0 11 3.0 43
Will Smith - - - - 1.0 21 - - 1.0 25 - - - - 2.0 46
Tyler Thornburg 2.0 28 - - - - 2.0 19 1.0 12 - - 0.2 6 5.2 65
Wei-Chung Wang - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0
Rob Wooten* - - - - 1.0 14 - - - - - - - - 1.0 14

Here's the first issue I see on the table above: Brandon Kintzler hasn't pitched since April 9th. Normally, that wouldn't be a big issue for a bullpen to be a man down, but it's magnified for the Brewers. With their refusal to put Wei-Chung Wang into a game, they have been working with a five-man bullpen over the last week. Also, with Zach Duke mainly limited to LOOGY duties, that's another reliever the bullpen can't use all the time. Because of that, it's like the bullpen has been pitching with four relievers over the last four days, with a fifth that can come in from time to time.

This has led to a second problem in the bullpen, and that is overuse of certain relievers. Francisco Rodriguez has pitched in three straight games, so he's probably out for today's game. Jim Henderson has pitched four of the last five days, so the Brewers probably want to stay away from him as well. Tyler Thornburg has pitched in three of the last four, but had a multi-inning appearance in one of those games, so he probably needs rest as well. That's the bullpen's best three relievers there, all needing rest today.

Third, if you're hoping for a day off, there's still a lot of games to play before then. The Brewers next day off as a team is April 24th, which is also the day Brandon Kintzler is eligible to come off the DL. That's eleven more days in a row that the Brewers will have to play. The only hope for a day off before the 24th is for a Brewers starter to pitch a complete game.

There is some good news for the bullpen. Since the starting pitchers haven't had a bad day yet, the team hasn't needed to cover multiple innings. That has saved the bullpen from being completely overworked. Also, there are a few relievers who have been rested. Will Smith hasn't pitched in two days so he should be good to go. Zach Duke has thrown a total of two pitches in the last four days, so while it's not ideal, he could cover an inning if necessary. Plus, callup Rob Wooten hasn't pitched in four days, so he is coming in fresh. There's also Wei-Chung Wang, and as much as the Brewers are trying to avoid using him, they may reach a point where they don't have a choice.

Going into today's game, the best scenario for the bullpen is for Kyle Lohse to have a good start and pitch six or seven innings. The bullpen should be able to cover two or three innings today without a problem. However, if Kyle Lohse has a bad start or comes out early for another reason, this could be a bad day for the bullpen.

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