MILWAUKEE -- Brewers fans had their say Monday, lighting up talk radio and Internet message boards to offer opinions about slumping right-hander Jeff Suppan. Suppan's manager will wait until Tuesday to offer his own two cents. "I'll probably sit down and talk to him [Tuesday] because it's his 'side' day," Macha said, referring to Suppan's regular between-starts bullpen session. "It's definitely a strain on our bullpen. I'd like to see all our starters get out there for six innings. [Being unable to do so] not only has an impact on wins and losses that day, but it has a residual effect that carries over. We need to get him back to how he was pitching last August."
Suppan was 5-0 with a 3.00 ERA last August, but in eight starts since, including his Game 4 loss in the National League Division Series, he's winless with a 10.13 ERA and has surrendered 12 home runs. In his two starts this season, Suppan is 0-2 with a 12.91 ERA and has started 11 of the 20 hitters he's faced with a ball. He did throw a first-pitch strike to the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano leading off Sunday's game, and Soriano sent it for a home run. But Suppan mostly was done in by his six walks, four of which came in the fourth inning, including three with the bases loaded. Cue the venom from Brewers Nation. Most of the over-the-air and online discussion Monday centered on Suppan's salary. He'll earn $12.5 million this year and next as part of the four-year, $42 million contract he inked on Christmas Eve 2006. That doesn't matter to Macha. "I'm happy for him," Macha joked. "I know what you're saying, but you know what? I just look at [the fact] we do have a little depth at Triple-A as far as our starting pitchers are concerned. "But I think that when you look at his history and the veteran that he is, instead of looking at how much money he's making, you've got to look at how we're going to get this guy pitching like he has in the past." That job falls to pitching coach Bill Castro, a longtime Brewers coach who was elevated from bullpen coach over the winter. Castro believes Suppan was "aiming" his pitches on Sunday night, instead of throwing them with conviction. "There's a difference, if you're a pitcher, if you're trying to aim the ball to a spot instead of throwing it to a spot," Castro said. "We talked about it. He knows he needs to do that, and we're going to work on it. He knows his problem, and he needs to stay more aggressive with his pitches. "It's mental more than anything else. You don't have to be perfect with your pitches -- just reach back and throw it." Castro doesn't think the fan criticism will affect Suppan. "It bothers you, but yesterday is gone and you deal with today and tomorrow," Castro said. "That's what's tough about this business; people will second-guess you for whatever you do. You play 162 games a year plus 35 games in Spring Training, and things are going to happen. ... He's been around the block a few times, so he knows what he needs to do. We'll work it out, OK?"
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.