The Milwaukee Brewers have proved this season that a team is only as good as their weakest link, which in their case is the bullpen.
Milwaukee has struggled mightily all season but the one consistency is the bullpen has been unable to keep leads. The offense has dropped off here and there but there is not a single offense in all of baseball that avoids a slump at some point during the season, unless of course you are the New York Yankees. The starting pitching has also had their fair share of problems, but once again, this is something that will happen with even the best teams in MLB.
The bullpen has been horrendous and that is putting it lightly. In fact, if the relievers carried so much as half their weight this season the Brewers would still be looking at a legitimate run at the division and Zack Greinke would still be living in Brew City opposed to the City of Angels.
The bullpen has a combined earned run average of 5.07, and that is only including the players currently on the roster. If I included relievers who have been sent down to the minors, the ERA is even higher. Due to this embarrassing statistic, the Brewers rank third in the National League with a 4.30 total team ERA, which is just a little better than the Houston Astros (4.66) and Colorado Rockies (5.30).
Everyone that calls himself a reliever on Milwaukee is to blame, but John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez are the main culprits. They have combined for a 5-12 record and 13 blown saves. Considering the Brewers are paying $8.525 million between the two of them for this season it is certainly disheartening to watch them give up run after run. They also have the worst ERA’s among active relievers on the team with Axford currently at 5.11 and Rodriguez at 5.36.
The good news is every single member of the bullpen is a free agent at the end of the season, which means general manager Doug Melvin can decide who he wants to bring back. Personally, the only person I would bring back is Axford because he at least has shown the potential to be great. Not to mention, Milwaukee will get him for dirt cheap. Everyone else can hit the road as the Brewers have plenty of talented arms in the minor leagues just waiting for their opportunity at the big league level.
It is a shame this is what the season has come to considering only a year ago the bullpen was lights out. Everything was clicking together which is what a team needs in order to win a division in baseball, easily the hardest sport to make the postseason. It is unfortunate management will have to go back to the drawing board, but the good news is the starting pitching and offense proves the team is not as far away as some fans may think.