CINCINNATI -- Ben Sheets wants to pitch deeper into games, but he has a hard time agreeing with those who worry that he's pitching poorly over the past six weeks.
"The sky is not falling," Sheets said.
Since his complete-game win at Atlanta on May 23 boosted Sheets' record to 9-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.59, the right-hander is 1-4 in seven starts with a 4.50 ERA, a .315 opponents' batting average and a 1.57 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched).
He has pitched six or fewer innings in all but two of those starts.
"But if I could have won two or three of those games, nobody would think I'm in a rut," Sheets said. "As a pitcher, though, your success depends on everything."
Like an offense that has not been consistently backing Sheets. The team has scored one total run in his last two starts and four or fewer runs in five of the seven games in Sheets' "slump."
Physically, Sheets insisted, he is strong.
"When I look back, I don't feel that I'm just bad," he said. "There was one bad start [on July 29 against the Cubs]. In my career, I'm not a guy that goes seven or eight scoreless [innings] a lot. Normally, I'm seven innings, two or three runs. My good games are all two or three runs. That's where I've been ... but right now, I'm not missing any bats."
Brewers manager Ned Yost came to the defense of his co-ace.
"His numbers were All-Star-caliber, so they're going to be off a bit," Yost said. "It's hard to keep that. You go through little stretches. His numbers are off, but this just puts him down to the 'above average pitcher' department, instead of the All-Star department. Things can get turned around very, very quickly, too. A lot of times it's a matter of giving him a little bit of a lead."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.