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Jeff Suppan is Awesome

It seems fitting that if the Cardinals are going to play so soon after their loss, it isn't a bunch of cold, unfeeling bastards (read: Cubs) who beat them handily.  I can't imagine it was easy for Suppan to go out there tonight, but he showed up big time.

For those of you keeping score at home, Suppan is now 4-2 in six starts, he's averaged more than seven innings per outing, and his ERA is down to 2.55.  He's still not dominating, nor will he ever, but with every start he shutting up a few more of the pre-season doubters.  It helps that our defense is so much stronger than it was last year, but a lot of better one for the Brewers.

Now, on a less serious note, which of the following was weirder:

  • Kevin Mench stole third off of Yadi Molina
  • Kevin Mench tripled
  • Kevin Mench could still walk after tripling and stealing a base
One more game like this, and Head is going to be a bona fide fan favorite once again. Couple that with Geoff Jenkins's excellent play in left field, and I might just shut up about Corey Hart's playing time for a day or two. (Key word: might.)

Another hot topic: while it's silly to track our run differential on a daily basis, it's worth noting that we're now back in the plus column. Still means we're way outperforming our pythag, but a little less so than if we had squeaked this one out. The longer we're outperforming, of course, the less it matters: playoff spots don't go to the team with the biggest run differentials, but the ones with the most wins. And right now, we're running away with that category.

Among his many incoherent (and unfortunately coherent, but still stupid) ramblings, Rick Sutcliffe claimed that Jeff Suppan was turning into a Greg Maddux-like pitcher. That seems a little optimistic, but it's interesting to note that Suppan had a 2.39 ERA in the second half last year. That means he's been dominant for four straight regular season months now. That could be a fluke, or it could mean he really is "learning how to pitch" or something. One of baseball-reference's incredibly awesome new features is the "last 365 days" split, and Suppan looks pretty good in that department. I'm sure I'll be following that one throughout the season.

That's a wrap on April, folks. I don't think I could've scripted a better one for the Brewers. Tomorrow, I'll take a closer look at how everybody performed in the first month, but it doesn't take a closer look to know that this was one of the best months of Brewers baseball in decades.

Update [2007-5-1 8:24:35 by Jeff]: Now that baseball-reference is updated through last night's games, I just checked to see how Suppan's "last 365 days" split looked after last night's game. His ERA is down to 3.66 in that time. I also calculated his FIP, which is 4.42. The knock on Suppan was that he relies a lot on his defense, and he got a bonus from standing in front of the Cardinals infield.

He certainly is outperforming his FIP, but even if he doesn't--even if the Brewers turn out to be exactly an average infield--that's still a pretty solid number. And I suspect that some of Suppan's ERA/FIP advantage is due to something he does, rather than a defense thing. One more thing: Supp's ERA in the postseason last year was about 2.50, just like his ERA is this year. That's another 25 innings of sample (against good teams!) that makes him look far better than the universally-applied "league average innings eater" tag would suggest.