Fiers succumbs to the thin air

August 14, 2012

> I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t see this coming. The Brewers fell to the Rockies tonight, 9-6. It was by the far the worst start of Mike Fiers’ young career. He went just 2+ innings while giving up eight runs on nine hits, including an extremely rough third inning, in which the Rockies racked up six straight hits without Fiers even recording an out.

Normally, I don’t use excuses when pitchers have bad outings, but I suppose there’s a legitimate one here. Coors Field has reverted back to its old ways this year, and the ball has been flying out of there like it was in the 90’s. When the stadium first opened, it was a very hitter-friendly ballpark, and it was because of the thin air in Colorado, due to the fact it’s in the mountains and much more elevated. That made the ball fly farther. So now, baseballs used at Coors are stored in a humidor before they’re used. That worked for the past decade or so, but something seems faulty this year, and Fiers isn’t the first victim. A pitcher doesn’t throw nine consecutive quality outings and then have an implosion like this.

The Brewers did score six runs against a very weak Rockies pitching staff, the highlights being a two-run homer from Carlos Gomez in the sixth, and a Rickie Weeks three-run shot in the ninth (although Weeks’ home run came off Will Harris, who was making his big league debut). But that wouldn’t have even been enough to overcome the hole Fiers put them in from the third inning on.

The bullpen was solid for the most part, which is a good sign, I guess. Mike McClendon threw two scoreless innings (but he allowed two of Fiers’ inherited runners to score). Livan Hernandez had to eat up three innings, and gave up the only run after Fiers’ departure. Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless eighth.

ROENICKE RESPONDS TO THE MEDIA

> This isn’t something we’ve seen from Ron Roenicke very often since the beginning of his tenure as Brewers manager. He’s always been known as that soft-spoken, calm manager who doesn’t always try to have his way with umpires, or with reporters barraging him with questions. But, on Friday, he was a bit uncharacteristic with the media.

Roenicke has been hit hard by the media, fans, and so on due to some of his decisions with the bullpen lately. On Friday, he was questioned about his handling of his bullpen lately, but he let out some of his own frustration to reporters. RRR said:

“Give me some options. You harp on me about this, but you don’t have any options for me.”

That was the first time we heard Roenicke actually call out the bullpen publicly, saying he felt he didn’t have any reliable options anymore. He also could have been indirectly firing at GM Doug Melvin for not attempting to assist him through these harsh times.

I’ve been saying the past few days that Jim Henderson should become the permanent ninth inning guy, but he shot me down after losing all control in the 10th inning of Saturday’s game. Roenicke said he doesn’t like using Henderson in the ninth, however. So who?

Kameron Loe converted the save yesterday, but a soft-tossing sinkerballer with a history of giving up more than enough hits isn’t going to be the long-term solution. K-Rod and John Axford, both with ERAs hovering over 5.00 at the moment, haven’t shown that either of them are ready to take back over the closer’s role for good. The rest of the ‘pen is pretty much slop right now, with no closer material among them.

My only solution- at least for now- is letting the starters go deeper. Roenicke has already announced that he isn’t a fan of that, but going back to a bullpen that is going to blow the game 99% of the time isn’t working.

So my suggestion to RRR is to sit down with a few of the starters and tell them that they’re going to start pitching into the eighth, or finish of games, more often. Maybe he’s already done that, as Yovani Gallardo threw a season-high 7 2/3 innings yesterday. That may have been the plan for Fiers today as well, but there isn’t much you can do when he can’t stop giving up hits in third inning.

While Roenicke does have some rights to say he “needs more options,” he’s really the one who’s in control of that. He can tell the starters to go deeper. He can request that Melvin go out and try to acquire a cheap, yet reliable reliever. He can go down on the farm and call up a guy like Rob Wooten and give him a chance. I’m not going to cut Roenicke much slack on this.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers was placed on the paternity list today as he waits for a newborn to join his family. He should be back to make his scheduled start on Wednesday for the series finale.

In a corresponding move, Jeff Bianchi was recalled from Triple-A. He grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance today.

> Jean Segura was given a day of rest today after being spiked in a play at the plate yesterday. This is likely precautionary, as Segura did play the rest of yesterday’s game after the play.

THE NUMBERS

> Gomez went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in today’s game. He needed that after taking the collar in the last two games against the Astros.

> Hernandez had to bat today, and he actually snapped a streak of 57 plate appearances without a strikeout. That was the longest in the Majors. Hernandez got to bat much more often as a starter with the Nationals the past few years, and he could always handle the bat.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> Casey Rottman, one of the survivors of the theater shooting in Aurora, CO, last month, threw out the first pitch at today’s game. Turns out Rottman is a Mequon native.

> Segura got a Twitter handle today. Follow him at @jeansegura9.

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