With CC Sabathia getting the nod tonight on three days rest for the second straight start, we thought we'd take a look on the problems and issues facing the Brewers' pitching staff as they head into the homestretch.
1. Can Sabathia Do This Alone?
Sabathia was brilliant in his first two months as a Brewer, but he's since gone 0-2 in his last two appearances. Because Sveum is going with the "best available" mentality, Sabathia is going to have to carry the workload down the stretch. He'll start again tonight against Pittsburgh, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Brewers threw him on Sunday, if they were still alive in the race. Sabathia has no problem with the strategy, saying he's "doing this to get into the playoffs." SimonOnSports takes a closer look at Sabathia, and if he's clutch or not.
2. The Return of Yovani
We mentioned yesterday, albeit briefly, that Yovani Gallardo has been activated and is cleared to pitch for the Brewers. Just how much he'll pitch, however, remains to be seen. He hasn't had any work with the bat or running the bases, so starting is probably out of the question. Assuming he does make an appearance in this final week, expect it to be in the middle to late innings, sort of in the role Carlos Villaneuva has been occupying this season. Ideally, you'd like to let him throw an inning late in a game where the Brewers have a big lead, just to get his feet wet.
UPDATE: ESPN'S TIM KURKJIAN JUST SAID ON SPORTSCENTER THAT GALLARDO WILL START THURSDAY, AND IS SCHEDULED TO WORK THREE INNINGS. SORRY FOR THE CAPS!
3. Coffey, Gagne, Mota, Torres
We've often harped on Ned Yost for being set in his ways, but it appears Dale Sveum is even more stubborn that than. He's rolled out the Coffey, Gagne, Mota, Torres bullpen more than a few times since he's taken over the post. This means two things. 1) Sveum feels the most comfortable with these veterans going forward. 2) The starters are having a problem going more than five innings. This group of guys is fine with me, as long as Mota and Torres stop blowing leads like they've been doing more lately.
4. Speaking of Those Starters....
Absolutely horrible. Suppan hasn't been pitching well, Bush is doing just as much as he can, McClung is still getting used to pitching relevant innings again, Parra's arm is toast, and Sheets has another injury. The strength for the Brewers at the beginning of the season is now one of their biggest question marks. Claudio Vargas anyone? (I kid, I kid)
5. Does Any of This Matter?
As a Brewers fan, all I ever wanted from this team was to make the playoffs. That's it. I didn't expect a title, a pennant, a ring. I just wanted one lousy little playoff appearance in my life time. Sveum seems to recognize this, and is doing whatever he can to get the Brewers to the second season. Now, let's say they do make the playoffs. With Sabathia going so often on short rest, and many of the younger pitching arms burnt out, would the Brewers even have decent arms to throw for them? Or would Yovani Gallardo's injury turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as he comes back and leads the team to the World Series? At this point, I don't really care. I just want to get there.