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Options to Replace Doug Davis in the Short Term. Counterpoint.

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Doug Davis didn't have a good weekend, and he didn't even pitch. Davis spent the early hours of Saturday morning in the ER getting his heart checked out by Dr. Jim Kleczka, the same doctor who has been working on Bob Uecker the past few weeks.

Davis was diagnosed with pericarditis, an acute inflammation of the lining around the heart. Fortunately for Davis, and Brewer fans, his case is mild. Even though the pain caused by pericarditis can be very intense, a full recovery is expected for Davis. Pericarditis can be very dangerous and even fatal, as it almost killed harmonica enthusiast Bob Dylan about 10 years ago. As a side note, Davis' current condition is "completely unrelated," to the thyroid cancer he was treated for in 2008.

Of course this is something no one wants to mess around with, and Doug Melvin was quick to put Davis on the 15 day DL, and he subsequently announced that Davis would miss "a couple of weeks".  At this point, I have no reason to doubt that Davis will be back in 2 weeks, however, I am also certain that if Davis continues to show signs of discomfort the Brewers will err on the side of caution and will keep Davis sidelined as long as he needs to be.

Yesterday our own Jordan M, wrote a nice article calling for Manny Parra to be named as Davis's replacement while he is recovering from his ailment. I would like to present a counter-argument to Jordan's piece discussing the option of having Jeff Suppan start in the stead of Manny Parra.

I would like to preface this discussion with the following points:

  • I believe that starting Parra is a reasonable course of action, and while I think starting Suppan may be better for the Brewers, I certainly can understand the reasoning behind giving Parra the starts.
  • I realize that Jeff Suppan is overpaid, and is a bad pitcher experiencing regression in a similar fashion to the Tidy Bowl Man.
  • I do not hate the Brewers or life in general. I am not insane. I am not high or drunk. I do not own a "ledge jumper carcass removal company". I am not a home-run ball hawk. I am not Jeff Suppan.

With that said, here we go....

1.) Manny Parra is not stretched out.  The most pitches Parra has thrown in an appearance was 49 (3IP) on April 28th. I don't think it is prudent to assume that Parra can step in and make a start without getting stretched out beyond his typical 1-2 inning appearances.

The argument was made that Chris Narveson had recently thrown 130 pitches as soon as his fourth start. I would counter by pointing out:

a.) This was entirely idiotic, and should not be replicated
b.) Chris Narveson is not Manny Parra.

It should be obvious that Parra and Narveson are two different pitchers, with different injury histories, and different ceilings. I believe that Parra has a higher ceiling than Narveson, and should be treated with a little more care than Narveson.

2.) Manny Parra has been pitching well this year. I think it is clear that Parra has been better in 2010 than he was in 2009, but I am not convinced that he has ironed out all of his wrinkles yet. If you inspect the Manny Parra game-log, you will notice that Parra enjoyed a solid April, but has been a bit more shaky in May. Two things jump out at me.

a.) In his last seven appearances, Parra only has one scoreless appearance. Furthermore he has given up 2 or more runs in his last 4 of these seven appearances.

b.) While his pitch count was rather effective and efficient in April, he is throwing almost twice as many pitches in May to get through the same amount of innings. For Parra to be considered a starter, he really shouldn't be throwing 20+ pitches per inning.

Now, all that said, I think Parra is a fine young pitcher.  I am convinced that he would benefit from more long relief appearances, to help enjoy a little more consistency, and pitch like he did in April for longer stretches of time throughout the season.

3.) Jeff Suppan Sucks. Duh.

4.) Any pitcher in AAA would pitch better than Suppan. This simply is not true. Earlier in the year, I wrote an article that argued for the Brewers bringing back Suppan in 2010, for exactly a scenario like this. In 2009 the Brewers had too many starters that performed worse than Suppan. Unfortunately the same could happen in 2010 if we aren't careful.

5.) It would be easy to bring up a AAA pitcher. The only AAA starter on our 40 man roster is Marco Estrada. If the Brewers wanted to bring up Kameron Loe, they would need to move a player to the 60 day DL, or DFA someone. I do not think that is prudent, unless Davis needs more recovery time.

In conclusion, I think if Davis is out until the end of May, Suppan could make 2-3 starts and the Brewers could tread water. I don't think it is a given that Parra would provide better results than Suppan, and I would rather see Parra flourish in the role he currently is in. He will get enough work in long relief, especially with Suppan making more starts.