The Clock is Ticking: Manny Parra Needs to Figure It Out

Ryan PasbrigContributor IJune 3, 2009

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 04: Manny Parra #43 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers a pitch during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 4, 2008 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Left-Hander Manny Parra has been on a roller coaster this season as the third starter in the rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers.

After allowing 10 runs in four innings Tuesday to the Florida Marlins, Parra's record fell to 3-7 with a 6.75 earned run average in 11 starts this season. The Brewers fell to 3-8 when Parra starts this season.

Parra season got off to a rocky start in April when he went 0-4 with a 6.52 earned run average. He turned it around and went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his next four starts however and many thought that April was just beginning of the season nerves.

However, his last three starts have been like his April starts and it has got manager Ken Macha searching for answers.

"I'm trying to figure him out, a little bit," Macha said to reporters following the loss to the Marlins.

Macha and pitching coach Bill Castro better figure Parra out soon if they want to remain competitive in the National League Central.

In a division that includes good teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, the Brewers cannot have a weak spot in their rotation.

Macha believes the problem Parra has is that when men get on base he struggles with mental issues. He focuses too much on the runners on base and less on the batter and gets flustered.

Baseball is a game of results and the Brewers are no strangers this year to making roster moves based on that fact.

This season General Manager Doug Melvin has already designated outfielders Brad Nelson and Chris Duffy for assignment, released pitcher Jorge Julio, traded for outfielder Jody Gerut, and signed outfielder Frank Catalonotto.

When is it time for Melvin to step in and find someone to replace Parra in the rotation?

This question is met with three problems.

First, one has to realize that Parra is the only left handed starter in the rotation. Usually a team like to have at least one left handed starter. Second, the Brewers do not have much pitching depth in the minor leagues. The final problems is that other teams in the league do not just give up quality pitchers through trades.

Journeyman right-handed reliever Mike Burns, who was brought up Tuesday after Julio was released, followed Parra's outing Tuesday night with four shutout innings of relief and is an option to replace Parra in the rotation should Parra not be able to fix his problem. 

Burns' career numbers, however, are not very good. In 45 relief appearances, he has a 5.88 ERA with 69 hits and 12 walks allowed in 52 innings, with 36 strikeouts. Burns has pitched solid this year as a starter in Nashville going 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts.

The best bet for the Brewers is that Parra can figure out how to get over the mental block that has plagued him this season. If he can, the Brewers have the solid starting pitcher Parra has shown to be when he is going strong.

If he cannot, Ken Macha and Doug Melvin are going to have to get creative and who knows how that is going to work out.

All the Brewers know is that they need to win games and they are not doing that when Manny Parra pitches.