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Did Roenicke Overuse Brandon Kintzler?

It’s hard to be upset about taking 2 of 3 from the Phillies in Philadelphia. It’s hard to be upset about hitting Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee better than most teams have this year. It’s hard to be upset about a 4-4 road trip considering all the defensive and offensive issues.

But doesn’t it feel like the Brewers let one get away in the series finale?

I don’t have much of a problem with the road trip as a whole. They rebounded nicely from the nightmare in Washington, and the pitching was very good from both the rotation and the bullpen. One thing that did make me squirm a bit, though, was Ron Roenicke going to Brandon Kintzler again on Wednesday.

Kintzler had one night off after pitching two innings in back-to-back appearances on Sunday and Monday. He did very well in his first inning of work against the Phillies yesterday, but then Roenicke decided to bring him out for another second inning. With Kameron Loe warming in the bullpen, Kintzler made a mistake to Shane Victorino that he hit out to lead off the 8th inning, and that proved to be the winning run.

It’s easy to like Kintzler. He looked incredible in the 7th inning, and if he can keep throwing his new changeup like he has been, he’s going to be a valuable piece in the Brewers’ bullpen. But considering the amount of pitches he’s thrown this week, perhaps it would have been smarter for Roenicke to avoid using him in a second inning for the third time this week. By the time his outing was done, this is how his week broke down:

Wednesday – 23 pitches
Monday – 29 pitches
Sunday – 29 pitches
Total – 81 pitches in four days

And some were worried about Kameron Loe getting overworked. Just for the sake of comparison, this is how Loe’s appearances broke down over the same period of time. Coincidentally, they’ve pitched on the same days this week:

Sunday – 15 pitches
Monday – 19 pitches
Wednesday – 4 pitches
Total – 36 pitches in four days

To be fair, though, Loe’s appearances over the past week have included some partial innings. If you want to compare Kintzler’s workload this week to Loe’s toughest week, we can do that:

4/3 @ CIN – 6 pitches
4/4 vs ATL – 10 pitches
4/6 vs ATL – 11 pitches
4/7 vs ATL – 18 pitches
Total – 45 pitches in five days

For as much as we complain about Roenicke abusing Loe, he seldom goes over 20 pitches and rarely works more than one inning — the two times Loe has worked more than 1 full inning are also the only two times he’s topped 20 pitches in an outing.

I’m not saying Roenicke abused Kintzler over the past week, as much of his use of the righthander was necessitated by a bullpen crunch caused by a doubleheader and 12-inning game happening over the course of three days. What I am doing, though, is wondering how smart it was for Roenicke to push his luck on another two-inning outing by Kintzler. By the time Kintzler was pitching in his second inning this afternoon, his fastball was barely pushing past 91-92 mph after hitting between 93 and 94 in his first inning — it was obvious he was laboring.

But like I said, it’s otherwise hard to complain about the roadtrip as a whole. The Brewers will get a much-needed day off on Thursday, and LaTroy Hawkins will provide the bullpen with another rested arm.