By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jun 08, 2010 at 4:18 PM

The Brewers' pitching staff has a decidedly different look these days.

Veterans Jeff Suppan and Claudio Vargas have been released while LaTroy Hawkins and Todd Coffey are on the disabled list. Not counting Manny Parra, Chris Narveson or Chris Capuano, only two of the team's current relievers - Trevor Hoffman and Carlos Villanueva -- were with the team on Opening Day.

In the mix now are newcomers John Axford, Zack Braddock, Kameron Loe and Chris Smith.

Aside from being new faces, they're also a lot younger and throw harder than the veterans they've replaced. Their presence has helped stabilize a bullpen that had been running on fumes for much of the first few weeks of the season.

"The young guys are starting to exert themselves a little bit," said manager Ken Macha. "I think they're seizing an opportunity to go out there and put themselves in position to get in more games."

All of the young relievers have seen flashes of success since joining the big club. Axford has moved into the closer's role while Hoffman tries to get back on track. Braddock, too, has gone through some ups and downs but notched his first career victory Sunday in St. Louis.

"They're young guys," Macha said. "They're going to have some hiccups. Braddock, when he had the outing here he got hit pretty hard. That's going to happen. Axford, even though he lost the game the other day, I thought he still threw the ball great."

For the time being, Macha plans to continue using Axford in the ninth-inning role.

Rotation questions: After Gallardo pitches Tuesday, Macha plans to line up his starters like this: Randy Wolf on Wednesday, Dave Bush on Thursday and Chris Narveson on Saturday.

Macha hasn't yet announced his starter for Saturday against Texas, but thinks that Manny Parra, who stuck out 10 Sunday against St. Louis, has earned another start.

"Our feeling was that Manny hadn't gotten a fair shake to get out there and show himself," Macha said. "He went out (Sunday) and pitched great."

Chris Capuano, who is back after undergoing a second "Tommy John" surgery, is another candidate. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings against the Marlins last week in his first start since 2007.

Considering his two surgeries, Capuano wouldn't likely be a candidate for bullpen work, but Macha and Melvin are still trying to formulate a plan.

"We need to sit down with Capuano," Macha said. "Right now, we'll go with those five guys ... for right now. But Capuano will be ready.

"I don't want guys going out there and thinking this is their last start."

Things could get even more difficult when Doug Davis returns from the disabled list.

Riske returns: Right-handed reliever David Riske was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list Tuesday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, LaTroy Hawkins was transferred to the 60-day DL.

Riske was evaluated by team officials prior to Tuesday's game and took the place of Todd Coffey on the 25-man active roster after missing almost all of last season to undergo and recover from "Tommy John" surgery.

 Macha isn't sure how Riske will fit into the bullpen just yet.

"I'm going to have to see what he can do," Macha said. "He's gone through the rehab, he's gone through a couple steps to get here... get him in there and we'll see what we got." 

In 11 rehabilitation appearances (13 IP) with Class A Brevard County and Class AAA Nashville, Riske went 2-1, allowing nine earned runs on 15 hits with 11 strikeouts and six walks.

Right-hander goes first: Despite bad luck in the past and a desperate need for advanced pitching prospects, the Brewers went with prep pitcher Dylan Covey with their first-round draft pick Monday.

The 18-year-old went 7-1 with a 0.40 ERA and 13 saves while striking out 138 and walking 20 for Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif. this season. He worked 70 2/3 innings and was named California Player of the Year.

Standing 6-foot-2 and about 195 pounds, Covey regularly throws his fastball in the mid-90s and a slider in the low 80s. Also in his repertoire are a solid curve ball and a good changeup.

He was a bit surprised to be selected by Milwaukee and admitted he didn't know much about the Brewers.

"I know they have a slide in the outfield," Covey said. "That's about it."

Despite a scholarship offer to play for the University of San Diego, Covey appears leaning towards staring his professional career.

"I want to sign ... I want to play soon," Covey sad. "I'm not sure what the process is like."

On Tuesday, the Brewers continued to focus on pitching, selecting Alabama right-hander Jimmy Nelson in the second round (64th overall) and Charlestown Southern right-hander Tyler Thornberg.

In the fourth round, the Brewers went with Auburn first baseman Hunter Morris (129th overall pick). As a high school player, he was selected by Boston in the second round of the 2007 draft but opted to play college ball.

The Brewers took three more pitchers -- all righties -- through the eighth round: Matthew Miller from the University of Michigan, Joel Pierce of Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor, Canada and Austin Ross of LSU.

In all, the Brewers made 30 selections through the first two days with 19 of the picks used on pitchers.

"We took the needs of the organization into account," scouting director Bruce Seid said. "We had a criteria of physical, hard throwers that had opportunities to be starters and try to create some depth in the organization."

Quick hits: Manny Parra struck out four Cardinals in the fourth inning Sunday, thanks to a wild pitch on a swinging third strike to Yadier Molina. He's the first Brewers pitcher to accomplish the feat and 50th in Major League history ... OF Ryan Braun continues to lead all National League outfielders in All-Star balloting with 1,017,266 votes. His total is second only to Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley (1,573,248) and Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (1,549,941). Prince Fielder is in third place among first baseman and Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee are fourth among second and third basemen, respectively ... Corey Hart has 11 home runs and 25 RBI in his last 22 games and is tied for the major league lead in both categories during that stretch ... Prince Fielder has played in 242 consecutive games, the longest active streak in MLB.

Injury report: Coffey is on the 15-day disabled list with a thumb contusion ... C Gregg Zaun is undergoing treatement for a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder ... OF Jody Gerut could return later this week after recovering from a heel injury.

On the farm: Catcher Angel Angel Salmoe has been sent from Class AA Huntsville to Class A Brevard County ... Nashville outfielder Brendin Katin has returned from the disabled list ... LHP Sam Narron was assigned to Nashville.

He said it: I'm not sure I even know how to spell ‘Milwaukee'" -- Brewers first-round draft choice Dylan Covey, when asked by a reporter what he knows about the Brewers

This week: A six-game homestand gets underway Tuesday night when the Cubs come to Miller Park for the first of three games. Interleague play returns Friday when the Texas Rangers come to town.

N.L. Central standings (through games Monday): 1(T), Cincinnati, 33-25; 1(T), St. Louis, 33-25; 2, Chicago, 26-31 (-6.5); 3 (T), Milwaukee, 23-34 (-9,5); 3 (T), Pittsburgh, 23-34 (-9.5); 4, Houston, 22-36 (-11).