Kintzler seeks more prominent bullpen role
Righty feels he's pitched well enough to serve as setup man in eighth
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says he's waiting for a right-hander to step up in the eighth inning. Despite a tough outing Wednesday, and conceding his signature sinker has not been as consistently sharp as a season ago, Brandon Kintzler believes he's done enough to earn the job.
"I don't know, he never throws me in there," Kintzler said. "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."
During the second half of last season, after the Brewers traded Francisco Rodriguez to Baltimore, Kintzler was an effective setup man for then-closer Jim Henderson. But both Henderson and Kintzler dealt with early-season shoulder injuries in 2014, prompting Roenicke to reorder bullpen roles.
Kintzler, who has been off the disabled list since April 24, has appeared in every inning from the fifth to the ninth and has eight holds with a 3.76 ERA in 42 appearances. Last season, he had 26 holds with a 2.69 ERA in a career-high 71 appearances.
"He was really consistent last year," Roenicke said. "It's a lot -- it's confidence. His stuff seems to be fine. He's fine. It's the confidence that it gives you to relax and let your body work by and hit spots, and he's not doing that. If you look at just velocity and things like that, it's fine. He'll throw some good breaking balls, but consistently he doesn't, and he's not getting the sinker down and in like he usually does. We always talk about confidence in this game. When it's not there and it's not there really well, you're a little bit short."
Roenicke also said, "He's not throwing the same. He knows it. Until we find somebody that can get that spot done as a right-hander, we've had the two lefties [Will Smith and Zach Duke] that have done it most of the year, until recently.
"We need to get somebody going. 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."
Kintzler argues he was on a roll, pointing to a run from July 8 to this week in which he was not charged with an earned run and retired 13 consecutive batters in one stretch, but pitched only seven times. Kintzler said he was a "wakeup call" when Roenicke summoned him to the manager's office for a chat July 11 to stress the importance of Kintzler reverting to 2013 form, and felt good when he struck out Allen Craig that night to preserve a 6-6 tie in the seventh inning, starting a stretch of five appearances in which Kintzler allowed only one hit -- a Denard Span single in Washington.
The scoreless streak ended Wednesday when the Giants hit three singles and saddled Kintzler with two earned runs in a Brewers loss.
"I still feel good about what I'm doing," Kintzler said. "If I gave up missiles everywhere [Wednesday], that's one thing, but two broken bat hits and then a home run [off another reliever, Tom Gorzelanny]."
Asked whether his shoulder is 100 percent healthy, Kintzler said, "I'd like to think so. I've had my fair share where I don't feel good. We warm up a lot, and sometimes we don't pitch."