Notes: Wise picking his game up
Brewers reliever turning things around after recent struggles
CINCINNATI -- Brewers reliever Matt Wise believes he has emerged from a pitching slump, and if he is right, it would be another big boost to the bullpen."You want to help the team," Wise said Saturday. "You don't want to be dead weight." Wise posted a 13.50 ERA in eight outings from July 25 to Aug. 14, including two games in which he was unable to record an out. But he has been charged with one run over his last five outings and has been particularly sharp in his last two games, including Friday's, when he relieved Dave Bush in the second inning and retired all three Reds hitters he faced. Wise was not the only reliever who impressed. "The best thing about [Friday] night was Matt Wise and Mitch Stetter," manager Ned Yost said. Stetter, a left-hander promoted to the Major Leagues on Sept. 1, pitched two scoreless innings. "It was encouraging to see both of those guys pitch like that," Yost said. "A bit of a bounce-back for both of them. ... That's two more guys that you can put in the mix down there in tight games and feel pretty comfortable about it." It was Wise's first appearance at Great American Ball Park since July 25, when he hit the Reds' Pedro Lopez in the face with a pitch. Lopez has not played since, and Wise was not the same until very recently. Yost had been using Wise in mop-up situations, and made it clear in a sit-down last month that Wise needed to "show me something." "I had a slump," Wise said. "It just happens that I hit a guy in the face at the beginning of the slump. Hopefully, I won't have any more slumps this year." What happened? "I think I hit the guy in the face and it threw off my mechanics," Wise said. "When you're out there it's hard to work on you mechanics, so I tried to focus on staying positive, not dwelling on it. "Still, I was beating my head against the wall trying to fix it," Wise said. "When you're not getting regular work, that's hard to do. But I don't blame them, because I wasn't producing." Assuming Wise stays on track, Yost said he would consider pitching him in the later innings of tight games. That was good news to the right-hander. "I would hope so," Wise said. "There is no ego involved in this clubhouse right now, but if I am back to 'normal' -- which I know I am -- I want to help take some of the load off the other guys." Another bright spot: Stetter loaded the bases in his Major League debut on Sept. 1 before working out of trouble. He enjoyed a much cleaner outing on Friday, striking out Reds left-handed hitters Josh Hamilton, Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn. "That throws Stetter in the mix against lefties," said Yost, who already has two lefty specialists in Ray King and Brian Shouse. "I knew I was going to feel a lot more comfortable my second time out," said Stetter, 26. "I was a lot more calm and relaxed. Even my family, who was here, said they noticed a huge difference." Stetter posted a 3.32 ERA in three Minor League stops this season and was used mostly as a lefty specialist, called on to face a batter or two per game. His September role with the Brewers remains in flux. "I've got a lot of confidence in myself, and I think that helps me too," Stetter said. More callups: Triple-A Nashville was eliminated from the postseason on Saturday, and the Brewers announced they would promote outfielders Laynce Nix and Tony Gwynn Jr. on Monday.
Miller returns: Backup catcher Damian Miller, who has teamed often since the All-Star break with Saturday starter Jeff Suppan, was back behind the plate after missing about a week with a right calf injury.He may not have been 100 percent, but he was close enough. "At this time of year, everybody is playing through something," Miller said. "It's just a matter of what you can deal with and what you can't deal with. I can definitely deal with this." On deck: Right-hander Ben Sheets (11-4, 3.36 ERA), who has pitched well in a pair of starts off the disabled list, will pitch Sunday's series finale against the Reds. Sheets is 6-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 13 career starts against the Reds. He will face Cincinnati left-hander Phil Dumatrait (0-3, 13.00).
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.