Brewers' overused bullpen needs relief
You can only play short-handed for so long before it bites you, so the Brewers were contemplating various personnel scenarios Wednesday.
By the end of the day, manager Ron Roenicke indicated a move would be made to get another bullpen arm before a four-game series begins Thursday night in Cincinnati.
“We're probably going to do something,” said Roenicke. “We'll confirm it later on. I talked with (general manager) Doug (Melvin). When we get to Cincinnati we'll talk again and see what we can do.”
Though the Brewers had put together 22 quality starts in the previous 27 games, many of those outings were limited to six innings, leaving three for the bullpen to cover. And it only got worse when Matt Garza pitched only three innings against St. Louis before departing with a bruised pitching thumb.
Roenicke indicated there was no disabled list move imminent with a player, meaning somebody would have to go off the roster. That opened the possibility that the Brewers would give back Rule 5 draft pick Wei-Chung Wang to Pittsburgh.
Wang was used for only the fourth time after Garza departed and allowed six hits and four runs in three innings. In six innings, he has allowed 13 hits and 10 runs for a 15.00 ERA.
Wang has to be kept on the big-league roster all season or offered back. The Brewers think he has a future as a starting pitcher in the majors but it's difficult for contending teams to keep Rule 5 picks, especially one who never had pitched above rookie ball until now.
“That's a decision that Doug has to make,” said Roenicke. “I can say what I think but he's the one who puts this team together. We try to do what's best for now and best for the next couple of years. It can't always be just now. We have to think about what's going to happen down the road.
“It's harder (for good teams to keep a Rule 5 pick). I thought he was a nice pickup and we were hoping we could see enough of him to get a better read on him. I'm looking at major-league pitchers who have been out there for years. So it's tough for me.
“We know where he's at. He's got a nice arm. We were hoping to see enough of him to get a good read, and we still may. We'll get him out there enough.”
Shortstop Jean Segura played in the field in the ninth inning and doubled in his lone at-bat, and appears good to return to regular action. And third baseman Aramis Ramirez thought he'd be ready to return from a bruised elbow in Cincinnati.
That leaves the status of rightfielder Ryan Braun (oblique strain) to be determined. Roenicke said no DL move was pending but said the club couldn't skate much longer on that front.
Fourth outfielder Logan Schafer is scheduled to rejoin the club Saturday after coming off the 15-day DL (hamstring strain) and could possibly replace Braun on the roster if he isn't ready to play by then. Schafer's rehab assignment was transferred Wednesday from Class A Brevard County to Class AAA Nashville.
Roenicke did find some humor in having a bench Tuesday that included Braun, Segura, Ramirez and JonathanLucroy, who was getting the day off.
“One heck of a bench,” said Roenicke. “They couldn't all play. Nice to write down. That's about it.”
Another WCWW: The Brewers' bullpen released its latest dance number on what they are calling “Wei-Chung Wang Wednesdays.” The videos center on the rookie pitcher dancing with the rest of the relievers backing him up to the music of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by the group Wang Chung.
After putting out two videos on YouTube and Instagram, reliever Jim Henderson was asked if it's possible to come up with a new dance number every week featuring Wang.
“Easy,” he said. “We already have some planned. We're brainstorming every day. That's the fun part of it.”
The bullpen used the Gateway Arch as a dance site, so Henderson was asked if other historic landmarks on the road might be incorporated into WCWW.
“There are ideas like that floating around,” he said. “The key to it is keep it simple, goofy and creative, and try not to get too crazy with it.”
As for the chance somebody might pull a muscle during a dance number, Henderson said, “I don't think with our dancing we can hurt ourselves. We're hurting our egos more than anything.”
Beyond being social media sensations, the dance routines allow the Brewers to have some fun with the seldom-used Wang as well as continue bonding with each other.
“It's great,” said Henderson. “And, of course, these things are always great if you win. We've got to keep winning to keep fun things like this going on. We're aware of that, too. You've got to make sure it comes over the right way. Everything is going well.”
Asked if baseball's “etiquette police”—and you know who you are—might frown upon such frivolity, Henderson said, “We're not worried about that at all. You've seen the teams that win World Series. They're having fun. That's what it's all about.”
Wang's signature move thus far appears to be the “Chicken Dance,” prompting Henderson to say, “We're hoping that just becomes 'The Wang.' He did say after we filmed the last one that he didn't get to do another move that he had in his head. He's like, 'I forgot to do the move I was going to do.' We said, “You've got next week.'”
Reliever Tyler Thornburg absolutely stole the show in the first video with his background dancing behind Wang, and he said he intentionally moved to the back in the second video to avoid being a camera hog.
“I had to move all the way to the back because I got a little too much attention with the first one,” said Thornburg. “I got some big-time views.
“I went to high school in Atlanta with a lot of dancing, growing up with Usher and Ludacris. You had to learn how to dance.”