While the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans should be basking in the glow of a 5-2 record and four straight road wins to start the season, they should be concerned about Ron Roenicke‘s handle on the bullpen and late-game moves.
The Brewers cruised to 10-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday afternoon — thanks in large part to Ryan Braun‘s three blasts and seven RBI — but Roenicke made a couple of baffling decisions that make you wonder if Milwaukee will need to win despite him.
With Milwaukee leading 7-4 in the top of the seventh inning, left-handed Scooter Gennett was due to face southpaw hurler Mario Hollands with a runner on second base. Instead, Roenicke went with pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks to gain the platoon advantage and pray for a run-scoring hit. Weeks flew out to end the frame, but it was foolish managing regardless.
Gennett was 2-for-2 in the game, is seeing the ball extremely well, and he should get work against lefties when possible. Ahead by three runs is a great place to let him hit, especially when Weeks was 1-for-10 entering the at-bat.
The more egregious calculation was that the maneuver removed the better defensive second baseman while having a lead in the final third of the contest. Unless Gennett is nursing an injury or soreness, the move made absolutely no sense. Let Gennett hit and play second base. It’s that simple.
Instead, Roenicke then had to cover himself by replacing Weeks with Jeff Bianchi at second, meaning the Brewers had no middle infielders on the bench should Jean Segura or Bianchi go down. All of this is simply stupid when you’re winning a close game on the road.
You can excuse strange decisions and drastic measures when you need offense because you’re trailing, but this was ridiculously poor management. Perhaps this is another example of why Weeks needs to be moved.
It’s possible Roenicke was checking to see if Weeks could be productive as a pinch-hitter and maybe give him some confidence against the lefty; however, that wasn’t really an ideal time to experiment.
What’s worse is this came a game after it looked like Roenicke finally figured out late-game management when he put Gennett in the game defensively in the series finale in Boston. The substitution on Tuesday leaves one concerned again.
Then, once Braun put the Crew ahead by six in the eighth inning, it became the perfect time to give Wei-Chung Wang his first MLB debut. Nope! Instead, Roenicke goes with one of their best relievers in Brandon Kintzler.
May I remind you the score was 10-4 in the eighth inning.
Kintzler had pitched in four of the Brewers’ first six games, so it would have been great to give him a third straight day off and save him for a tight contest. It could be especially important as Will Smith already tossed an inning in the game when it was still close.
I understand getting Jim Henderson a frame to work his way back, so it was good to see him in there; however, there was no reason Wang shouldn’t have handled the eighth inning, at least.
With the bullpen being a place managers can really make an impact, this was another disturbing decision, and it’s reminiscent of the way Roenicke burned out an eight-man pen last season.
Perhaps both illogical moves were one-game brain farts or he had a legitimate reason he’s not telling anyone (doubtful), but if it’s indicative of how Roenicke will again manage in 2014, I hope it doesn’t cost the Brewers a game or two and the difference between postseason play or early golf.