Before I get to my point, let me acknowledge that balls have been flying out of ballparks for the last week in Arizona. Since the beginning of play Sunday, thirty Cactus League games have been played, with the average score being 9-5.5. Teams are scoring 7.26 runs per game in Arizona this week, and 16 of 60 possible teams have scored ten runs or more in a game, including four teams that scored ten or more runs and lost.
With that said, Brewer pitching has left a fair amount to be desired this spring, and I'm wondering if you're concerned. The fourteen pitchers remaining in Brewer camp have posted an ERA of 5.20 in 163 spring innings. That number jumps to 5.34 if you eliminate the 11 innings pitched by Lindsay Gulin, who is unlikely to make the team. Let's take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of Brewer pitching performances in the Cactus League:
Spring line: 10 G, 11.2 IP, 2.31 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 3 BB, 10 K
For a guy who projects to face almost nothing but lefties during the regular season, Stetter has been retiring everyone he's faced this spring, and he's throwing strikes, which was his biggest problem last season.
Spring line: 6 G, 5 GS, 20 IP, 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 4 BB, 7 K
Even before his start tonight, Bush leads the Brewers in spring innings and has been very effective, picking up two spring wins and only allowing eighteen baserunners in twenty frames.
Spring line: 7 G, 10 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 1 BB, 12 K
On and off the field, Coffey's month of March might be the best of any Brewer. Off the field, he became a father for the second time, and on the field he has taken the opportunity to prove he belongs in the Brewer bullpen, and the 12:1 K/BB ratio he posted is hard to beat.
Spring line: 6 G, 6.1 IP, 9.95 ERA, 2.37 WHIP, 2 BB, 1 K
Riske is recovering from offseason elbow surgery, but he doesn't look ready to face batters in the regular season. Riske has allowed an earned run in each of his six spring appearances, and his ERA of nearly 10 doesn't reflect the three inherited runners he allowed to score on a bases-loaded double in his last appearance.
Spring line: 4 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 7.71 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 11 BB, 8 K
McClung pitched five innings in relief and Ken Macha was happy with his performance yesterday, but he's still walking a lot of batters this spring, including two walks against the end of the Rangers' bench in the ninth inning yesterday. Depending on the progress of Braden Looper and Trevor Hoffman, McClung could open the season in the starting rotation or as a closer, but hasn't pitched very well in either role this spring.
Spring line: 8 G, 12.1 IP, 7.32 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 3 BB, 9 K
Villanueva pitched a perfect inning yesterday, and was the only Brewer pitcher to escape without allowing an earned run. After his previous outing, though, a well-respected baseball analyst in attendance sent me this email:
Saw him today ... what am I missing here? K rates are always good but the stuff was meh.
Carlos could have earned himself a spot as Trevor Hoffman's backup and setup man with a string spring, but instead he's left himself on uncertain footing.
With the exception of Trevor Hoffman and Braden Looper (five combined innings) and Lindsay Gulin, the five other pitchers remaining in camp, including Jeff Suppan, Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra, have all posted ERAs between 5.06 and 6.30.
So, can we blame this on pitching in Arizona, or is it a cause for concern?