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The Year the Bullpen Blew It

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Couple of quick factoids for you on your Monday morning:

  • Number of Derrick Turnbow blown saves this year: 8
  • Number of games by which the Brewers trail the Wildcard-leading Reds: 5
It would be silly to completely blame Derrick Turnbow (or any other single player) for the disappointments of this season so far, but he's a good place to start. Whether the league has figured him out, or whether something in his violent mechanics has gone awry, he's not the same pitcher he was last year. What's more, it's been obvious for some time.

What's most frustrating to me isn't that Turnbow has struggled (though that's right up there) but it's the utter lack of options. Ned Yost seems to think Dan Kolb is still a viable option, while last night's successful save conversion simply proved that he is not. He has never struck out enough batters to be dominant, and the freakishly high ground ball percentage that worked for him in his first go-round with the Brewers is gone.

Even Matt Wise, one of my favorite Brewers, has been very inconsistent this year. Jose Capellan, a guy who could be the closer in another year or two, hasn't developed quite like I've hoped. Jorge de la Rosa has been hurt, and now apparently the Brewers don't want him back in his current state--he's made four rehab starts in Double-A.

Making things worse, there's not even really hope in the Minors. Alec Zumwalt and Allan Simpson have been closing for Nashville, but Ned doesn't seem to be interested in trying Simpson, and the last time I heard Doug Melvin mention Zumwalt's name was when he traded for the guy. (However, Zumwalt might be an option: he's striking out more than one per inning in Triple-A, though it appears that he's not being used anywhere near consecutive days. And he walks too many guys.)

I had expected that the bullpen would be a strong point this year, even if Turnbow faltered. Capellan was due for a step forward; Kolb might regain his magic with his old pitching coach; Wise would put together another great season as the most unheralded set-up man in baseball. We had options. Now we have a 47-52 record and it's questionable whether we'll even match last year's .500 record.

Ouch.