The Milwaukee Brewers need someone to take control of the eighth-inning role from the right side. Manager Ron Roenicke says no one has done so.
Brandon Kintzler begs to differ.
Kintzler had a rough go on Wednesday, allowing three hits and two earned runs while retiring two hitters in the eighth inning of a 7-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants, but pointed to a string of recent successes.
From July 8-Aug. 2, Kintzler was unscored upon, but worked just seven times for 6.1 innings in that stretch, allowing three hits and no walks and striking out five.
“I don’t know, he never throws me in there,” Kintzler told MLB.com. “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.”
Kintzler became the primary setup man for Jim Henderson in the second half of the 2013 season—his first full season in the majors—and had a 2.69 ERA and 1.065 WHIP in 71 appearances and 77 innings, striking out 58. He also had 26 holds.
This year in 42 outings, Kintzler has a 3.76 ERA and 1.409 WHIP in 38.1 innings, striking out 21 and notching just eight holds.
Roenicke says it’s not that simple.
“He’s not throwing the same,” Roenicke said of Kintzler. “He knows it. Until we find somebody that can get that spot done as a right-hander, we’ve had the two lefties that have done it most of the year, until recently.”
The lefties Roenicke was referred to are Will Smith and Zach Duke. Smith has struggled mightily over the last four weeks or so, but has responded from a disastrous outing at Tampa Bay on July 29 with four scoreless outings covering two innings of work.
Smith earned his 26th hold of the season in Thursday’s win over the San Francisco Giants.
‘We need get somebody going,” Roenicke said. “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.”
Rob Wooten leads Milwaukee’s right-handed relievers this season with 11 holds in 12 opportunities. Kintzler’s eight holds have come in 13 chances.