Eric Gagne must think saves grow on trees because he is blowing through them like a spoiled teenage girl blows through Daddy's credit limit. Only in this case, Doug Melvin is Daddy and Daddy is turning a blind eye to his little girl's wasteful ways. From Tom Haudricourt's blog:
"I just spoke with Brewers general manager Doug Melvin via telephone and he told me there are no plans to remove Eric Gagne as the club's closer despite the veteran right-handers off-and-on struggles this season."
Those aren't off-and-on struggles, Tom. I'd call those off-and-really-off struggles. What's eating Eric Gagne, anyway? I dialed up David Pinto's Day-by-Day Database to find Gagne's numbers from two distinct time periods: his stint as the Texas Rangers closer in 2007 before becoming a Boston Red Sock, and his stint as both a Red Sock in 2007 and the Brewers closer in 2008:
Both time periods cover 33 1/3 innings pitched, although the former was across 34 games while the latter was across 36 games. His role changed, too. In the former period, he was the closer on a terrible team. In the latter period, he was a setup man on a playoff team followed by the closer on a potential division contender.
Here's the most interesting stat: his strikeout rate per nine innings actually went up from 7.8 K/9 as a Ranger to 10.5 K/9 as a Red Sock and Brewer. However, his walk rate went up too, from 3.2 BB/9 (bad) to 5.1 BB/9 (really bad). The strikeouts are great but if he can't get his walk ratio under 3, he's a liability as a closer.
Let's examine an even smaller sample size than the 33 1/3 innings pitched as the Rangers closer: the 14 2/3 innings pitched as the Brewers closer. Over those 14 2/3 innings, Gagne has allowed 4 ding dongs which translates to 2.45 homers allowed per nine innings. That's atrocious. The right hander allowed just .52 tater tots per nine innings all last year.
What does this all mean? I have no idea, except statistically, there's something wrong with Eric Gagne and something wrong with the Brewers bullpen. Salomon Torres to the rescue!