03/03/08 7:53 PM ET
Mailbag: Suppan an innings-eater
Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers Brewers fans' questions
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
-- JT, Wisconsin Dells, Wis. The Brewers don't pay Suppan to be dominant. They pay him to be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter, an innings-eater who consistently gives the team opportunities to win games and a veteran with postseason experience. He has made 30-plus starts in nine straight seasons, the fourth-longest such streak in the Majors, behind Livan Hernandez (10 straight) and Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux (12 each). Suppan also led the team last year with 206 2/3 innings pitched (the only member of the staff to top the 200-inning plateau) and the team had a winning record (18-16) in his starts. Was he dominant? No. And he reflected the team's up-and-down season, going 12 starts without a win from June 27-August 28, but then finishing strong with a 4-1 record and a 3.86 ERA in six September starts. Suppan is a grinder who gives up his share of hits, but more often than not (118-113 career record) finds a way to win. Not every pitcher, even the highly-paid ones, can be Josh Beckett or Johan Santana, the kind of player who can throw a no-hitter at any moment. There is something to be said for having a Suppan or two mixed into the starting rotation, someone who goes to the post every five days and provides a steady presence in the middle of the rotation. Those types of players tend to make everyone else on the staff better.
I don't understand why the Brewers are not giving their young players contracts, especially Prince Fielder. Now we are reading about how unhappy Fielder is that he isn't going to get more money. What are they waiting for? Their stats are just going to get better and they are just going to have to dish out bigger contracts, if they are even willing to come back to a team that so far is not willing to pay its deserving players.
-- Scott S., Ringle, Wis.
Have a question about the Brewers?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Brewers beat reporter Adam McCalvy for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
The Brewers don't need a fifth starter until April 20. They can throw Sheets with his full four days' rest too, because there are off days for the first three loops through the rotation.
-- Martin D., Madison
April 1 - off
April 2 - No. 2
April 3 - No. 3
April 4 - No. 4
April 5 - Sheets
April 6 - No. 5 You cannot use the No. 2 guy on April 6, because he would only have three days of rest. Manager Ned Yost said it again very clearly this week, he is not willing to bring guys back on short rest in April and he needs a fifth starter in the sixth game. In relation to Vince L.'s fifth starter question from the Feb. 25 mailbag: Will the Brewers simply go 1-5 every time, thereby giving everyone an extra day between starts until April 15 rolls around? Or will they always pitch Sheets every fifth day and let everyone else fall into place around that?
-- Adam R., Milwaukee Yost said he and pitching coach Mike Maddux are still making that determination. If you keep Sheets as close as possible to a regular five-day schedule, it means the other four starters have to work more often on one or two extra days of rest. You limit those large gaps if you simply bump everybody back a day when the team is off. It's not just about what's best for Sheets, Yost said, it's about what's best for the staff. Sounds like Yost and Maddux are leaning toward keeping everyone in order. It means one fewer start for Sheets and one extra start for the fifth guy during the month of April. All of this will come into focus later this month. Many people here in Fort Worth that know Gallardo are wondering if he will be ready for the start of the season.
-- Juan G., Fort Worth, Texas Gallardo said he is scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday, his first action, other than playing catch, since undergoing knee surgery last month. He's questionable for the start of the season, because Yost says a pitcher has to be at the 90-pitch mark, and it takes four or five spring starts to get there. It is probably more likely that Gallardo will join the rotation in mid-April. Do you think that Steve Bray has a shot of making the Brewers 25-man roster by the start of the season? He was a Triple-A All-Star last year, and seems to have really progressed in the last few years.
-- Mike D., Glastonbury, Conn. A handful of things would have to happen for Bray to make the big league roster by Opening Day, but I do know that the Brewers were thrilled to get him in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft a few years ago. A scout told me that his pure stuff grades out as average or below average, but Bray is a perfect example of a guy who has guts and knows how to pitch. He's "an enigma wrapped in a mystery," the scout said. Bray is almost certainly ticketed for Triple-A again. When will tickets for the Spring Training games at Miller Park on March 28 and 29 go on sale?
-- Paul N., West Bend, Wis. The team finally got around to announcing this today. They go on sale Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. and will cost $10 apiece. Fans who buy tickets to the March 29 game will get access to the "Brewers On Deck" event earlier in the day.