MILWAUKEE – When the Milwaukee Brewers take the field on Tuesday night, they will be playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, but really they will be playing for their postseason lives, as they have throughout September. Brent Suter will take the mound and if there is one thing you can guarantee, it is that he will not be uptight or nervous.
“He's a funny guy and an amazing teammate,” catcher Manny Pina said. “Brent always has great energy, always clapping in the dugout. He’s kind of goofy, but when he's pitching, he's focused to win the game.”
Suter’s relative cool may end up being a comforting sight on the mound, but results will be considerably more important and those remain a bit of a question mark with Suter.
Initially asked to fill Chase Anderson’s role in the starting rotation, Suter impressed in five July Starts, in which he gave up just five earned runs in 30 innings. His success did not continue however into August as he gave up 13 earned runs in just 14.1 innings pitched and hit the disabled list shortly after those struggles with a mild rotator cuff strain.
“He's a competitor on the mound, but he's different than most starting pitchers are on their start day,” third baseman Travis Shaw said. “Most pitchers don't talk that much. They're super serious in the dugout. He's the same guy [as he is normally] every start day. He's loose. He's still talking, cheering everybody on.
“When he goes out to the mound though, he's prepared and he does his job.”
There is no doubt Suter competes on the mound, but it is still strange to see a starter with a quirkiness normally reserved for relievers. And maybe even stranger for that starter to totally accept that reputation.
Suter has embraced the “kind of goofy” persona, ever since he was first exposed to Brewers fans as a velociraptor in videos posted by minor league pitcher (and social media standout) Tim Dillard. The videos came about after multiple teammates suggested that Suter runs like a raptor. Suter has had fun with the criticism, using the Jurassic Park theme song as his walk-out and walk-up music.
“He's [Suter] just a very happy guy,” shortstop Orlando Arcia said. “From the first time I met him, he's always been like that. He's a funny guy. He's not like other pitchers, when they're pitching they're serious about it. With him, whether he's pitching or not, he's messing around in the dugout, talking, and having fun.”
His big personality and initial success originally drew people in, but Suter also differentiates himself from other pitchers by his pace on the hill. No one in baseball pitches quicker than Brent Suter.
“It can be uncomfortable at times, especially if you're trying to feel out an at-bat and it's 0-2 within 12 seconds,” Shaw said. “It's uncomfortable. That's part of his thing. That's part of why he's effective.”
From time-to-time, pitchers will utilize a “quick pitch” technique where they deviate from their normal tempo to try to catch hitters off guard. Suter chooses to use the “quick pitch” tempo on every batter.
“I've never caught a guy like that,” Pina said. “He's just so quick. He just catches it and goes, catches it and goes. He doesn't care what I call. He just wants to throw strikes.”
“He just focuses and throws the ball. Sometimes, the hitter feels too comfortable at home plate and they don't like facing Suter.”
So, now, with the season on the line, the Brewers choose to give the ball to one of Major League Baseball’s most interesting packages: a goofball starting pitcher who helped keep the clubhouse loose during a pennant race, while also compiling a month of incredible results on the mound and working faster than anyone else in baseball.
“I think that's what makes him successful out here,” Arcia said. “That's just the way he is and he embraces it.”