MILWAUKEE -- Three weeks ago, veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez, he of 292 career saves, the single-season saves record and a World Series ring, said he has never been more frustrated on the baseball field. That feeling has not abated.
"It's like you get a couple steps forward and then 10 back," said Rodriguez, who allowed the final two runs of the Marlins' comeback from a seven-run deficit on Tuesday.
The Brewers eventually won that game in 10 innings, 13-12. But the outing continued a frustrating summer for Rodriguez, who at 30 years old and in his 10th full Major League season is having the worst statistical year of his career by nearly every measure.
He has a 4.17 ERA, 1.527 WHIP, .282 opponents' batting average and 4.40 FIP. He also has an aching back and a badly bruised left groin, injuries that Rodriguez called "little stuff" and only fleetingly acknowledges when asked.
"The inconsistency on my release point has been pretty much miserable," Rodriguez said. "I'm not able to spot or command my pitches when I want to and need to. I'm really frustrated by that. But the ball is coming out of my hand pretty good -- if I want to reach back, I can reach back and I know it's there, but that makes no sense when you're all over the place.
"But you know what? I'm a warrior, and nothing is going to stop me. Confidence is still there. I just have to keep fighting."
Rodriguez is not the only Brewers reliever having an off year. Jose Veras, who entered the season as the projected seventh-inning specialist, has 24 walks in 33 2/3 innings, his highest walk rate since a nine-game stint with the Yankees in 2007. Closer John Axford has four blown saves and a 4.73 ERA.
Manager Ron Roenicke conceded that the bullpen inconsistencies have caused changes to the way he uses starting pitchers.
"I thought we always got a guy out last year because we knew the game was going to be over when we went to our bullpen," Roenicke said. "I think that helped our starters to be strong all year. We're still trying to do that, to make sure we're not pushing our starters that much, but I've noticed it seems like we're getting deeper into pitch counts with starting pitchers this year than we did before. I think they can handle that."