Brewers re­ly­ing more on re­lief corps

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - UW REPLAY - TOM HAUDRICOURT

Craig Coun­sell ad­mit­ted he spent a lot of time Saturday look­ing at his re­lief pitch­ers’ work sched­ules.

That’s what hap­pens af­ter a “bullpen day,” when you cover nine in­nings with eight dif­fer­ent pitch­ers.

“I think the off day on Thurs­day cer­tainly makes it look a lit­tle cleaner," the Mil­wau­kee Brewers man­ager said. "I think I counted 19 ap­pear­ances from our bullpen over the last three games. That means they’re pitch­ing a lot.”

Coun­sell has been forced to do some dif­fer­ent things with his pitch­ing be­cause he is down two starters from his ro­ta­tion. Jimmy Nel­son was lost with a shoul­der in­jury for the rest of the sea­son, and Matt Garza was re­moved from the ro­ta­tion af­ter com­pil­ing a 10.13 ERA over his last seven out­ings.

Swing­man Brent Suter is fill­ing one of the ro­ta­tion spots but is not fully stretched out, so Coun­sell re­lies heav­ily on this re­lief corps on those days. Even more so with the other open­ing, which is why Jeremy Jef­fress made his first start in the ma­jor leagues Fri­day night against Miami.

“There are some guys who are pitch­ing quite a bit, so that’s some­thing we have to keep a close eye on,” said Coun­sell, who has 12 re­liev­ers at his dis­posal with ex­panded ros­ters in Septem­ber. “It’s go­ing to fac­tor in as we move for­ward.”

Days off the past cou­ple of Thurs­days helped parse out the pitch­ers but be­gin­ning with the se­ries opener against Miami, the Brewers play 10 games in a row with­out a break. And that stretch con­cludes with a huge fourgame se­ries at home against first-place Chicago, the team the Brewers are chas­ing in the NL Cen­tral.

“Get­ting leads is go­ing to be im­por­tant, where we can use (other pitch­ers),” Coun­sell said. “Those things mat­ter when you’re try­ing to de­ploy your pitch­ing like this.”

Coun­sell ac­tu­ally had Suter up in the bullpen early Fri­day night on what would have been a bullpen day be­tween starts.

He did not use him but that’s the kind of “all hands on deck” ap­proach the Brewers are tak­ing these days.

“I was go­ing to use him in a short ap­pear­ance,” said Coun­sell, who is giv­ing Suter his next start Mon­day in Pitts­burgh. “He’s not throw­ing bullpens (be­tween starts), so he was go­ing to face maybe one hit­ter. He’ll be fine to go for Mon­day.”

As for whether he can con­tinue this level of bullpen us­age the rest of the way, Coun­sell said, “We can’t sus­tain it on an ev­ery­day ba­sis. We’re go­ing to need in­nings from our starters. Guys like Zach (Davies), Chase (An­der­son) and ‘Woody’ ( Bran­don Woodruff), the stretched-out guys, we’re go­ing to need in­nings from them.

“But this isn’t the time to look at things from a long-term ba­sis, be­cause it’s not a long-term sea­son right now. It’s a two-week sea­son. Guys are go­ing to have to do a lit­tle more over the next two weeks."

No wait­ing: Coun­sell was pleased to get righthander Aaron Wilk­er­son, who was called up Fri­day, in a game right away. Wilk­er­son made his ma­jor­league de­but in the ninth in­ning of the 10-2 vic­tory over the Mar­lins, re­tir­ing the side in or­der.

“I al­ways try to get the guys who come up here in the game as fast as I can to get the but­ter­flies away,” Coun­sell said. “I think it’s im­por­tant for him to feel a part of us. It was good that he pitched a good in­ning for us.”

Wilk­er­son made the jump from Class AA Biloxi to the ma­jors with one stop — a play­off start for Class AAA Colorado Springs in which he pitched seven no-hit in­nings against pow­er­house Mem­phis with 11 strike­outs.

“It’s a jump, for sure, and some­thing you take note of,” Coun­sell said. “We also take note of the per­for­mance he had in that Triple-A start be­cause it was ex­cep­tional. And it was against a re­ally good of­fen­sive lineup."

JEFF HANISCH / USA TODAY SPORTS

Brewers pitcher Jeremy Jef­fress made a rare start on Fri­day vs. the Mar­lins.

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