This comment appeared in an article by Brewers beat writer Drew Olson that was posted on the MJS website on 6/16:
"The Brewers can get by without a lefty in the rotation. If they are going to contend this year, though, they are going to need another lefty in the bullpen before the season ends."
One of my biggest pet peeves is when managers always think they have to "play the percentages." Is Ray King the only Brewers' reliever that can get left-handed hitters out? Sometimes I wonder if managers even look at the statistics to see how their relievers fare against lefties. Well, here are the numbers of our four most effective relievers this year vs. left-handed hitters (through 6/17):
Mike DeJean: .151 BA, 53 AB, 8 H, 0 HR, 8 BB, 12 K Dave Weathers: .182 BA, 44 AB, 8 H, 1 HR, 9 BB, 14 K Chad Fox: .195 BA, 41 AB, 8 H, 1 HR, 4 BB, 13 K Ray King: .195 BA, 41 AB, 8 H, 1 HR, 2 BB, 13 K
Wow. And why exactly do we "need" another lefty in the pen? Aside from 2 walks, King and Fox have nearly identical numbers. All four relievers have faced approximately the same amount of batters, yet DeJean and Weathers have allowed a lower BA than the "specialist" King. Now, I am not picking on Ray King. He has done a very commendable job this year, especially given his workload. However, it is very clear that the Brewers don't need to bring him, or any other left-handed pitcher, in to retire lefties. In fact, all four relievers have fared better against lefties than they have against righties this season. Here are the numbers for the same four relievers vs. right-handed hitters (through 6/17):
Mike DeJean: .267 BA, 75 AB, 20 H, 2 HR, 8 BB, 12 K Dave Weathers: .207 BA, 82 AB, 17 H, 0 HR, 6 BB, 13 K Chad Fox: .233 BA, 60 AB, 14 H, 0 HR, 3 BB, 20 K Ray King: .208 BA, 48 AB, 10 H, 2 HR, 10 BB, 15 K
When you factor in the fact that 5 of King's 10 walks against right-handers were intentional, he has done almost as well against right-handed hitters as he has against lefties. All four of these relievers have been very effective against whomever they have faced this year.
This is why I cringe every time Davey Lopes lets Mike Dejean or Chad Fox or Dave Weathers pitch to two batters, and then brings in Ray King to face a lefty. Then the next inning, in comes one of the other relievers. This strategy has gotten the Brewers into trouble in at least two extra-inning games this year. The statistics suggest that all four of these pitchers can effectively retire lefties, and Davey Lopes should take note. However, it doesn't help when the team's beat writer is publishing inaccurate, unsubstantiated, left-field comments like the one at the beginning of this article.
Statistics source: ESPN.com