Brewers' manager Ken Macha still has no idea what to do with pitcher Jeff Suppan...after another poor showing against the Cubs on Friday evening (5 ER's over 4 1/3 IP, 10 hits, 2 K's and 2 BB's...and now an ERA for the season of 8.68), Suppan's status in the rotation is, or at least should be, in jeopardy.
The Brewers will need a 5th starter again on Wednesday against the Pirates. In all likelihood, Suppan will get the nod for this start simply because a) he's only had two starts on the season; b) both were against the same team, the Cubs; c) he is coming off an injury; and d) he's getting paid way too much to be a middle reliever.
It is probably safe to start Suppan against the Pirates (after all, the Brew Crew's offense hasn't really had any trouble against Pirate pitching so far in 2010)...but if Suppan struggles against one of the weaker teams in the National League, then what?
Why not try a piggyback?
For those not familiar with the concept, a team designates two "starters" for the game--one actually starts the game and only pitches a set number of innings, usually 3 or 4, while the other pitcher pitches the back half of the game. Piggybacking is used quite a bit in the minors, especially when needing to stretch younger pitchers out or to prep two potential starters. Usually, one pitcher starts and goes 3-4 innings, while the second pitches the following 3-4 innings, and then they swap the next start--the second pitcher used will start or pitch the first four innings in the following start.
To some extent, the Brewers have already been doing this with Suppan, as he is having trouble going 5 innings anyway. Formalizing the process, however, could take some pressure off of Suppan, as well as save face with the fans. But to save face with the fans, Macha would probably have to announce that he is going to piggyback Suppan...meaning the Brewers' opponent knows that Suppan will be yanked after 4 even if he does have a good start.
But the Cubs' still plated four runs (three earned) in the first four innings on Friday night, so "Soup" might not even benefit from a piggyback system...so the best thing to do if he is still pitching badly after the game against the Pirates--"Zambrano" him into the bullpen and let Manny Parra or Chris Narveson have a chance.