The Milwaukee Brewers fired bullpen coach Stan Kyles Monday morning in a move that has shocked no one. Unfortunately, the Brewers had no choice but to let Kyles go as the move was absolutely necessary.
Milwaukee’s bullpen has been horrendous, embarrassing, and downright pathetic this season. The bullpen has a combined earned run average of 5.07 and could go even higher if I included pitchers who were sent down to the minors due to the inability to record outs.
Every individual reliever is responsible for the firing with a majority of it landing on the heads of John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez. The two “closers” have a combined 5-12 record and 13 blown saves this season while making a ridiculous $8.525 million. Axford has a 5.11 ERA while Rodriguez’s 5.36 is the worst among active Brewer relievers not named Tyler Thornburg, who does not really count considering he has started two games.
The bullpen is supposed to be lights out, or at least that is what the Brewers were supposed to be. There is no excuse for their lack of quality play and inability to hold leads late in the game. The starters have done their job to hand the ball off with limited damage and the offense has done what is asked of them by supplying four-run leads. The relievers need to take a majority of blame for the team’s poor record this season, which is why Kyles ultimately lost his job.
General manager Doug Melvin had this to say about the firing:
“It is important that we make every effort to try to improve our bullpen performance. While Stan is not solely responsible, I felt that this change was the first step and was necessary. Stan has been a loyal member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization for 11 years (four years as bullpen coach). His hard work and dedication has been an integral part of the Brewers’ success and is greatly appreciated. His professionalism, personality and knowledge will be missed.”
There is no doubt Kyles has made a difference for the Brewers as they have typically had reliable bullpens in recent years. Unfortunately, this is one of those cases in which it is more the players fault than the coach, but he is the one who gets canned.
This appears to be only the beginning, as a major overhaul will take place in the offseason. Every member of the bullpen will be a free agent once season ends. The only person I expect to be on the team next year is Axford only because he has shown signs of greatness and the Brewers will be able to keep him for a bargain price.
Kyles did not appear distraught after being let go, as he clearly knew something like this was coming eventually.
“Something had to be done,” said Kyles. “I understood it perfectly, the way the bullpen has performed most of the year and especially the last couple, three weeks have been pretty bad. That bullpen is my department. When your department is not performing well, these things happen. I don’t believe I’m a scapegoat. They’ve got to try something else down there.”
One can make the argument Milwaukee’s bullpen got away with mistakes last year and this season every ball left up is getting hit out of the park. Still, Axford, Rodriguez, and the rest of the relievers are better than this, which is why it comes as a surprise to many how poorly they are playing.
Kyles took the firing like a true professional and instead of getting down on himself, he is staying optimistic that he will get a job somewhere else in the majors as he believes he can be a pitching coach for some team in the big-leagues. Hopefully, he will get to coach players who have more discipline on the mound.