Jeff Suppan has faced grief from Brewer fans since the first day he signed with the team. His production for the Brewers has matched his career output, but his lackluster first half swoons has had Brewer fans ready to cut ties with the veteran righty.
Suppan signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the Brewers in December, 2006. In his first two years of that contract, Suppan has gone 12-12 with a 4.79 ERA. Those numbers don't exactly scream that he's a $10 million a year pitcher, but that dollar amount is what the market dictated at the time he was a free agent.
Suppan has never had "ace" stuff or claimed to be a superstar player. He is a decent middle of the rotation pitcher that will get you double-digit wins, make 30-plus starts, and have an ERA somewhere between 4.00 and 5.00.
Suppan had a superb August going 5-0, and pitched at least six innings in all six of his starts. He showed just how inconsistent he is by following up those outings with a horrible September. Soup went 0-3, and never pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in any start.
He finished up the season pitching only three innings against the Phillies in the NLDS, and gave up five runs in his Game Four start.
Expectations have been lowered for Suppan by fans, but they are now at the level they should have been all along. If Soup can win double-digits again and pitch at least 190 innings, Brewer fans should be satisfied with those numbers.
Suppan is the veteran pitcher that everyone else looks to for guidance. His knowledge of pitching that he can share with Gallardo, Parra, and Dave Bush could prove invaluable for the future. Soup could one day be a very good pitching coach for some Major League team.
I don't expect Suppan to do anything different than what he's done in his first two years with the Brewers. He will have one good outing, one bad outing, and one so-so outing. That's the life of a mid-rotation pitcher with average stuff.
If he can somehow limit the damage in his bad and so-so outings, then the Brewers will be able to remain competitive for the balance of the season. If he only has one good outing every six or seven starts, well, then it will be a very long season for the Brewers and their fans.
The offense should be better this year and I think that will help Suppan greatly. I'll venture out on a limb and say Soup wins 12 games this year, with an ERA of 4.50. Count on his 30-plus starts and at least 190 innings.
Soup has as much pride in what he does as any player and I fully expect him to go out and earn the $12.5 million he's due to make this year.