The bullpen has been a season-long issue for the Milwaukee Brewers, be it in the middle or late innings. The relievers have blown too many leads, allowed too many "tack-on runs."
Entering play Sunday, Milwaukee's relief corps had a 4.56 ERA, which ranked 14th among the 16 National League clubs. That's not going to cut it if the Brewers (33-39) want to get back to .500 and climb into the NL Central race.
"It has been a rough year for them," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We like the personnel that's down there. They're not throwing the way that they should be throwing the ball. You're not going to have seven guys in your bullpen that are lights out. Nobody has that in their bullpen.
"But that was something that we counted on last year. When we had the winning formula, it was because the bullpen was so good. Every time we brought them in, they'd throw up zeros, they would keep that lead or they'd give us a chance to get back into it. And we're not doing that.
"Randy Wolf is a perfect example, what's going on with him. I feel bad for him; he has thrown the ball well, and we can't hold leads for him."
Roenicke referred to the fact that the bullpen has blown leads in each of Wolf's last four starts and in six of his last nine. It happened again Saturday, when Wolf was removed with a 6-4 lead, a runner on second and one down in the sixth inning. Kameron Loe came in and allowed the runner to score, then a run of his own in what became an 8-6 loss.
"For whatever reason, it hasn't worked out smooth for who to bring in, for how they're pitching when they come in," Roenicke said. "It always seems like it's an uncomfortable situation, which is unusual, I think, for the personnel we have there because I really do like our personnel."
The bullpen took the loss Sunday, but the offense was more responsible in a 1-0, 10-inning defeat against the Chicago White Sox. Manny Parra gave up a double, a walk and a walk-off single in the 10th.