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Bullpen brings heat during stellar April

May 8, 2014

He’s not quite the K-Rod of old, but Francisco Rodriguez is as dominant as ever. And so is the Brewers’ bullpen.

Over 16 appearances, the 32-year-old closer has converted all 13 of his save opportunities, giving up just seven hits and four walks over 16 innings with 23 strikeouts. This week, he made four appearances, picking up four more saves while striking out five batters and allowing three to reach base.

Rodriguez has been the team’s best pitcher this month and the best closer in baseball. But he’s not the only Brewer dominating in relief.

Milwaukee’s bullpen is fourth in the league with a 2.45 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through 28 games. Opponents are hitting just .205 against Brewers relievers, with a .268 on-base percentage, numbers that are good for third and second in the league.

Joining Rodriguez in delivering spectacular results so far has been 25-year-old right-hander Tyler Thornburg and 24-year-old lefty Will Smith. The two have formed one of the most dominant young pitching duos in baseball, combining to allow just two runs on 13 hits over 27 innings.

Thornburg has struck out 17 batters with five walks, while Smith has 18 strikeouts against eight walks.

Putting together a good bullpen is far from an exact science. What may look like a good bullpen on Opening Day could fall apart by June 1. This year, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin appears to have gotten it right. And it’s paying huge dividends in Milwaukee.

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