The Brewers will activate closer Jim Henderson from the disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Phillies, and the question is how manager Ron Roenicke will use him.
On one hand, Henderson was 9-for-9 in save opportunities before straining his hamstring against the Pirates on May 24. On the other hand, fill-in Francisco Rodriguez is 4-for-4 in Henderson's place, leaving the veteran only two saves shy of 300 in his career.
"I talked to Henderson and told him we may give him an inning somewhere [other than a save opportunity]," Roenicke said. "We'll see. Frankie is pitching great. If he wasn't, then I would just say we'll go back to Henderson. So we'll certainly think about that."
The Brewers, who optioned right-handed pitching prospect Tyler Thornburg to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Henderson, are 10-26 since the beginning of May despite taking two of their first three so far against the Phillies. But their bullpen entered Saturday with a 2.01 ERA and .214 opponents' average over 102 2/3 innings in the team's previous 31 games. That stretch dropped the group's overall ERA from 4.16 to 2.92.
Now, here comes Henderson, who is perfect in save opportunities since taking over the role from John Axford during the second week of the season. The right-hander tested his leg in a successful one-inning rehab outing at Class A Wisconsin on Friday night in Appleton, Wis.
"It's awesome," Henderson said. "Yesterday, I was in the clubhouse in [Appleton], just getting stretched out and ready to go to throw my inning and I saw [the Brewers were trailing the Phillies [4-0]. Then I came back and it was 4-4, and the bullpen was in and holding [the Phillies] down. That's awesome. I'm sure there's a lot of confidence in everybody when those guys are coming in."
Henderson was injured while following through on a pitch against the Pirates but felt ready after his first rehab appearance. Pitching the ninth inning Friday night with a one-run deficit, he recorded all three outs by strikeout while giving up a softly hit double. He threw 14 of his 19 pitches for strikes.
"Really good. Successful," Henderson said of his outing. "Nineteen pitches -- they weren't swinging. Usually, they're coming out of their shoes. But I felt strong the whole way through the inning, so it went well. My legs felt good."
Henderson will be part of the group backing up starter Kyle Lohse (1-6, 3.49 ERA). The right-hander has posted a 6.15 ERA while allowing nine home runs over his past six outings.
He did produce a quality start on Tuesday against the A's, giving up three runs on seven hits in six innings, but also tweaked his left hamstring running the bases and pitched his final two innings with the leg wrapped.
Jonathan Pettibone will go for the Phillies. Philadelphia will try to improve its 7-2 record with Pettibone on the mound.
The 22-year-old rookie right-hander, who has never faced the Brewers, gave up a career-high four runs on May 30, but bounced back on Tuesday. He held the Marlins to one earned run in six innings, although he notched only one strikeout.
Phillies: Brown continues power surge
Left fielder Domonic Brown smacked his National League-leading 19th home run of the season on Saturday. Since May 1, he leads the Majors with 16 homers.
Brown's shot means the Phillies now have at least one homer in 13 consecutive games since May 27. That is their longest streak since they went deep in 18 straight games from Sept. 3-22, 2008, on their way to a World Series title.
• Before Saturday's 4-3 loss, the Phillies were averaging 3.16 runs per game on the road, ranked 28th in the Majors. In its past 16 contests away from Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia has managed more than five runs only once.
Brewers: Bullpen workload not a concern
Brewers relievers worked 209 1/3 innings in the team's first 60 games, the fourth-most relief innings in the NL, then handled five more on Saturday. But manager Ron Roenicke isn't worried about his bullpen being overburdened.
"I know that we've had to pitch them a lot because we haven't gotten real deep with our starters, but I don't think their load has been excessive," Roenicke said. "We've flipped them around enough, had some guys come up from the Minor Leagues, to where I don't think the load has been to [the point] where I am worried about it."
• Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee's closer with Henderson sidelined, has converted all four of his save chances and notched the 298th of his career on Saturday. The veteran ninth-inning man has given up one run on four hits in 10 1/3 innings, striking out nine and walking three.
• Sunday's game will be the teams' last meeting of the regular season. The Brewers have won four of six thus far.
• Lohse, who pitched briefly for the Phillies in 2007, has not faced them this season. Over his career, he has held Jimmy Rollins to a .189 average (7-for-37), while Ryan Howard has hit him at a .476 clip (10-for-21) with three homers and 11 RBIs.