8/7/2014 6:28 P.M. ET
Kintzler seeks more prominent bullpen role
Righty feels he's pitched well enough to serve as setup man in eighth
By Adam McCalvy and Caitlin Swieca / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says he's waiting for a right-hander to step up in the eighth inning. Despite a tough outing Wednesday, and conceding his signature sinker has not been as consistently sharp as a season ago, Brandon Kintzler believes he's done enough to earn the job.
"I don't know, he never throws me in there," Kintzler said. "I threw well all of July, I never got a hold situation the whole time. I felt like I've done my job whatever they've asked me to do."
During the second half of last season, after the Brewers traded Francisco Rodriguez to Baltimore, Kintzler was an effective setup man for then-closer Jim Henderson. But both Henderson and Kintzler dealt with early-season shoulder injuries in 2014, prompting Roenicke to reorder bullpen roles.
Kintzler, who has been off the disabled list since April 24, has appeared in every inning from the fifth to the ninth and has eight holds with a 3.76 ERA in 42 appearances. Last season, he had 26 holds with a 2.69 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances.
"He was really consistent last year," Roenicke said. "It's a lot -- it's confidence. His stuff seems to be fine. He's fine. It's the confidence that it gives you to relax and let your body work by and hit spots, and he's not doing that. If you look at just velocity and things like that, it's fine. He'll throw some good breaking balls, but consistently he doesn't, and he's not getting the sinker down and in like he usually does. We always talk about confidence in this game. When it's not there and it's not there really well, you're a little bit short."
Roenicke also said, "He's not throwing the same. He knows it. Until we find somebody that can get that spot done as a right-hander, we've had the two lefties [Will Smith and Zach Duke] that have done it most of the year, until recently.
"We need to get somebody going. We know that [Kintzler] has done the job really well. It's like, who else do you try? I still think he's got it in him, it's just he's got to believe that, he's got to show it, and then get that confidence and get on a roll."
Kintzler argues he was on a roll, pointing to a run from July 8 to this week in which he was not charged with an earned run and retired 13 consecutive batters in one stretch, but pitched only seven times. Kintzler said he was a "wakeup call" when Roenicke summoned him to the manager's office for a chat July 11 to stress the importance of Kintzler reverting to 2013 form, and felt good when he struck out Allen Craig that night to preserve a 6-6 tie in the seventh inning, starting a stretch of five appearances in which Kintzler allowed only one hit -- a Denard Span single in Washington.
The scoreless streak ended Wednesday when the Giants hit three singles and saddled Kintzler with two earned runs in a Brewers loss.
"I still feel good about what I'm doing," Kintzler said. "If I gave up missiles everywhere [Wednesday], that's one thing, but two broken bat hits and then a home run [off another reliever, Tom Gorzelanny]."
Asked whether his shoulder is 100 percent healthy, Kintzler said, "I'd like to think so. I've had my fair share where I don't feel good. We warm up a lot, and sometimes we don't pitch."
Fiers to make first '14 start Saturday
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers will send out their seventh starting pitcher of the season Saturday as Mike Fiers will start in place of the injured Matt Garza, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after Thursday's 3-1 win over the Giants.
Fiers, a 29-year-old righty, will face the Dodgers in his first start of the season after a stint in the Major League club's bullpen in June. Fiers has had an impressive year with Triple-A Nashville, holding an 8-5 record and 2.55 ERA over 17 starts.
The Brewers are undoubtedly hoping Fiers will catch fire like he did in 2012, when he threw six innings or more while allowing two or fewer earned runs in 10 of his first 12 Major League starts. After fading down the stretch, he finished with a 9-10 record and 3.74 ERA after 22 total starts. He also made 11 appearances, including three starts, for Milwaukee last season.
The club's choice was made reasonably clear Wednesday when their other candidate to take Garza's place, Marco Estrada, pitched three innings in relief of Yovani Gallardo in a loss to the Giants. Estrada threw 39 pitches and admitted it would have been a challenge to start on two days' rest.
"I'm not sure how I would feel [physically] that day, but I would say I'm 100 percent ready no matter what," Estrada said. "If it was tomorrow, I would do it, because that's what I want to do -- I want to start. I don't want to be in the bullpen. And they know that."
But Estrada said he was made no promises when he was removed from the rotation that he would be reinstated the first time the team needed another arm, and Roenicke said the team wants to see what it has in Fiers.
"I think Fiers, with the way he's been throwing in Triple-A this year, we know what he did for us when we first had him up and what kind of starts he got," Roenicke said. "I think we were kind of going into it not sure which way we were going to go, and then needing Marco the other day did make a difference. We like what Marco can do starting, [but] we want to try Fiers and bring him up and see if he can give us the starts he gave us a couple years ago."
It's unclear how long Garza, on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, will be out.
Brewers acquire Minor Leaguer from Bucs
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers and Pirates made a Minor League trade Thursday that sent right-hander Jay Jackson to Milwaukee's Triple-A team for cash considerations.
Jackson, who cracked Baseball America's top 100 prospects list prior to the 2010 season, was 5-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 25 games (12 starts) at Triple-A Indianapolis this year, with 87 strikeouts in 84 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old will now pitch for a Nashville Sounds team that has been losing arms lately to the big league club.
Jackson originally was a ninth-round Draft pick of the Cubs in 2008.
In other Brewers Minor League news:
• The team announced that first baseman Hunter Morris was ready to begin a rehabilitation assignment at rookie-level Arizona. Morris has been sidelined about five weeks by a non-displaced fracture to his right arm, near the wrist.
• After two starts at Arizona, left-hander Wei-Chung Wang will be promoted to Class A Wisconsin before his next start on Sunday, according to Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash. Wang was a Rule 5 Draft pick and pitched sparingly before he was placed on the DL last month with a tight shoulder.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Caitlin Swieca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.