Analyzing the veteran starters on the market

October 30, 2012

> Doug Melvin and the Brewers have made it known that they’re probably going to go after a free agent starter this offseason, preferable an experienced guy to anchor what looks to be a young rotation. Personally, I’m still debating whether or not that’s the right decision; the bullpen probably needs more tending to than the rotation. But, if the Brewers do choose to go after a free agent veteran starter, there’s actually a surprisingly decent market for that category this offseason. Here’s a list of the key possibilities for the Brewers:

Ryan Dempster
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Kyle Lohse
Brandon McCarthy
Anibal Sanchez*
Dan Haren*
Jake Peavy*

*Sanchez, Haren, and Peavy all have options (or other contract impediments) with their current teams, so it remains to be seen if they actually reach the free agent market.

Basically, the guys I listed are possibilities that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing, and most of them are relatively realistic for the Brewers as well. Greinke, obviously, isn’t very likely, but you still can’t count him out.

Dempster was stellar with the Cubs in 2012, but sort of fell off a cliff with the Rangers (despite a winning record in Texas). He’s clearly better in the National League, but I’d say one of the only benefits of the Brewers signing Dempster is that they wouldn’t have to face him (he has 15 career wins against the Brewers).

Guthrie might be the worst option on the list. He was awful with the Rockies, probably because of Coors Field, but resurrected himself with the Royals during the second half, posting a 3.16 ERA. Guthrie is still one of the riskier options on the list, however, and the Brewers will probably try and go with someone else.

Jackson quietly had a decent year as the fifth starter in the Nationals’ rotation, but he’s had an inconsistent career, and the number of teams he’s played for will tell you that. I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing him, but there’s a bit of a risk with him as well.

For me, Kuroda is the best option on the list. After years of getting no run support in Los Angeles, he blossomed on the big stage in the Bronx. He proved he can pitch in the hitter-friendly environment of Yankee Stadium, meaning he probably wouldn’t do too bad at Miller Park.

There’s no denying Lohse had an unbelievable season in 2012, but I just don’t see him fitting in with the Brewers. Plus, he’s going to draw a ton of money (at least $12 million a year), and I don’t see the Brewers spending that on a starter.

In my opinion, McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game; he knows how to shut down a good offense. But, it’s not often that he isn’t injured, whether it be shoulder/elbow problems, or taking line drives off the head.

Those are my top options. There are also guys like Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there’s no doubt that those guys would turn into Jeff Suppan-like signings, so I hope the Brewers stay away from them.

THE NEWS

> Now that the offseason has officially started, the Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, and Alex Gonzalez all elected free agency. Marcum and K-Rod are both as good as gone, but Gonzalez has a chance of returning as the back-up shortstop (or starter, depending on Jean Segura’s status). The Brewers also reinstated Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson from the 60-day disabled list. Lastly, they re-signed shortstop Hector Gomez to a minor league deal.

The Brewers’ other free agents, Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba, are already on the market, as they elected free agency during the NLCS.

> The Gold Glove Finalists were announced today. Here’s a list of them at each position:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Peavy, C.J. Wilson
Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters
First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixera
Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan
Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy
Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout
Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz
First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto
Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop:
Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins
Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright
Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado
Center field: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs
Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Eithier, Jason Heyward

That awkward moment when Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox anymore, yet could win the AL Gold Glove at first base.

Anyway, Ramirez should win the third base GG, seeing as he had the fewest errors in the league at the position. But Braun won’t win the GG in left field, because steroids. (You can bet that’s what all of the voters are thinking.)

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised 2013 options for David Aardsma, Cano, and Curtis Granderson.
Phillies: Declined 2013 options for Ty Wigginton, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco.
Twins: Declined 2013 option for Scott Baker; signed P.J. Walters to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Exercised 2013 option for Luis Ayala.
Athletics: Optioned 2013 option for ex-Brewer Grant Balfour; declined Stephen Drew’s option; signed Mike Ekstrom to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera, and Matt Treanor.
Pirates:
Outrighted Jeff Clement, Eric Fryer, and Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Takuya Tsuchida.


Recapping the Division Series to this point

October 9, 2012

> I’ve been busy the past few days, and there hasn’t been much Brewers news to report. But, seeing as we’re already into the third day of the Division Series, let’s jump right into some postseason coverage.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> A day after Justin Verlander’s 11-strikeout, 121-pitch adventure, the Tigers defeated the Athletics, 5-4, to take a 2-0 ALDS lead. It was a back-and-forth game with some shoddy defense on both sides, but ex-Brewer Grant Balfour finally gave in at the end, allowing a walk-off sacrifice fly from Don Kelly.

> Bronson Arroyo and the Reds dominated the Giants last night, shutting them down 9-0. Arroyo took a perfect game into the fifth, and finished with seven one-hit innings. He was backed by his offense, who crushed Madison Bumgarner and the Giants’ bullpen army. Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, and Ryan Hanigan each had multi-hit days.

> The Cardinals-Nationals series started yesterday, and the Nats came out on top after take advantage of a later error by the Cards. Despite Adam Wainwright’s 10-strikeout game, Tyler Moore’s two-run single in the eighth was the decisive factor.

However, the Cardinals stormed back today with a 12-run outburst, including two home runs from Carlos Beltran.

> The Yankees rode a five-run pummeling of Jim Johnson in the ninth inning last night to a 7-2 win over the Orioles. The ninth inning rally started with a home run from Russell Martin. Former Brewer CC Sabathia nearly went the distance, but was pulled with two outs in the ninth.

The O’s-Yanks game is still in progress right now, but the Orioles are winning 3-2 after 6 1/3 stellar innings from Wei-Yin Chen.

THE NEWS

> A few managerial updates- some surprising, some not so much. The Indians hired Terry Francona, the Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine, and Jim Tracy resigned his post as Rockies manager.

> The Angels signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a three-year extension.

> Minor moves:

Rays: Released Matt Bush.
Yankees: Designated Cory Wade for assignment.

And that’s about it. This is what the post format is going to look like for the rest of the offseason. Since there won’t always be Brewers news to cover, I have to compensate by reporting news from around the league as well.

THE EXTRAS

> Yesterday, Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque kissed the ball before tossing it to first base to record the final out of the ninth. No joke.

But, of course, something as trivial as this had to turn into a fiasco.


Brewers lay down the hammer

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> I’ll honestly say I wasn’t expecting this. After the way the Brewers played last night, I thought they were going to get owned by Bronson Arroyo, who usually has his way with us. But it was the complete opposite: the Brewers blew out the Reds, 8-1.

After Joey Votto put the Brewers in an early hole with an RBI double, the Brewers put up a huge two-out rally against Arroyo in the third, starting with a Norichika Aoki homer. Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart also had RBI singles that inning. The Brewers scattered a few more runs through the rest of the game, including homers from Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy.

MY TAKE

> I’m starting to notice a trend here. Adam McCalvy wrote today that the Brewers’ offense has been better without Prince Fielder. Doesn’t make any sense, right?

But it’s actually become a theme now. The Brewers have played much, much better since trading away Zack Greinke. The Brewers played worse in 2008 after acquiring CC Sabathia (but you can’t argue with his numbers; obviously not his fault). As tough as it is to part with these star players, it’s hard to argue with the results following their departures.

THE NEWS

> Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta were scheduled for one and two more starts respectively, but Ron Roenicke said those plans are subject to change.

THE NUMBERS

> Shaun Marcum had his best start since coming off the disabled list, going six innings while giving up a run and striking out seven.

> Aoki has the most extra-base hits (18) in baseball so far in September.

> Aoki’s 36 doubles are the most ever by a Brewers rookie.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)

> By the way, sorry for the brief articles lately. Schoolwork has really piled on much earlier than I expected, so that’s obviously my priority.


Brewers’ WC hopes take hit

September 26, 2012

POSTGAME

> With their 4-2 loss to the Reds tonight, the Brewers are now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leading Cardinals (after they finish taking out that one minor league team). In other words, the Brewers have dug themselves into a hole that almost requires them to win out and the Cards to lose out for the rest of the season, a very unlikely finish.

Mike Fiers hasn’t been a very reliable option lately, and he got roughed up again tonight. The only two Brewers runs came on a Jean Segura RBI single in the fifth and Aramis Ramirez’s solo shot in the eighth.

MY TAKE

> Fiers is just collapsing. As I continue to preach, I hate the idea of completely shutting down a pitcher for the year, but Fiers is not doing a very good job of backing my opinion. After his incredible run to start off his big league career, he has done more than fall back to earth- he’s become an inconsistent option that isn’t giving the Brewers much of a chance to win.

He’s certainly done enough to solidify his rotation spot for next year, but, if the Brewers do just miss the postseason, one of the flaws we’ll look back on is Fiers’ meltdown.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals are currently beating the Astros, 4-0. We can safely assume they’ll lock that down, and then the Brewers will officially be 4.5 games back.

THE NUMBERS

> Since starting his career with a 1.80 ERA through 12 starts (plus one relief appearance), Fiers has a 6.70 ERA over his last nine games. His ERA has ballooned to 3.55 during that span.

And it all started at that wretched Coors Field.

> Norichika Aoki now has no hits in his last 13 at-bats.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-8)

THE EXTRAS

> Football season doesn’t officially start for me until after baseball season ends (and even then I’m usually paying more attention to the MLB offseason). But even I was blowing up at this awful call during the Packers-Seahawks game last night. The replacement referees are starting to make MLB umpires look good.

> After you watch that video, you’ll understand these headlines from this morning.


Zimmerman(n) kills the Brewers

September 25, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Brewers did split this series, which is better than nothing against a team like the Nationals. But, considering the circumstances, they needed to do better; and it doesn’t help that both games they lost were complete blowouts. They were crushed today, 12-2. Marco Estrada proved he, for some reason, can’t pitch during noon games, and hammered for seven runs (six earned) in four innings against his former team.

They Nats used both of their Z’s to kill the Brewers, with Jordan Zimmermann tossing 6 2/3 strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman hitting a three-run blast off Estrada.

The Brewers only managed two runs, one coming on a Corey Hart homer.

MY TAKE

> Estrada had been able to avoid the big inning his last few starts, thus being able to go 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his six starts prior to this. But it came back to haunt him today. After getting two outs in the fourth, he allowed five consecutive baserunners, and that doomed the Brewers for the rest of the day.

THE NEWS

> The Cardinals took down the Astros, 6-1. The Brewers are now 3.5 games back with nine to go. It’s going to take a miracle- and probably a Cardinals collapse- to make it at this point.

THE NUMBERS

> Aramis Ramirez hit his 50th double of the season.

> Norichika Aoki has no hits in his last nine at-bats.

> The probables for the upcoming Reds series:

Mike Fiers (9-8, 3.38 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (18-9, 2.84 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-8, 3.63 ERA)

Wily Peralta (2-1, 3.04 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (13-4, 3.60 ERA)


Bullpen hangs on for much-needed win

August 7, 2012

Postgame

> Finally, a game I can enjoy covering. It’s been too long. The Brewers defeated the Reds somewhat handily today, 6-3. This snapped a three-game losing skid courtesy of the Cardinals, and was a strong start to an important series, even if the Brewers aren’t contending.

I wasn’t high on Yovani Gallardo’s chances coming into tonight’s start. He had struggled his two starts before his last one, and, despite performing well in his last one, it came against the Astros. Plus, Yo has struggled against the Reds at Miller Park in his career. But, he jammed that down my throat with a great start, going seven innings while giving up a run on six hits. He walked three and struck out four. Gallardo had  to dance around danger multiple times, but it was one of his better outings this year as far as pitching in the clutch. He improved to 10-8 on the year and his ERA fell to 3.79.

Meanwhile, the offense backed him late. Early on, it looked like the Brewers were in for another rough go against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Coming into tonight, the Brewers at a .139 average against Arroyo in three games this year. That stat held true until the fifth inning, when the Brewers finally solved the puzzle. Martin Maldonado led off the inning with a double. After Jean Segura advanced him to third on a sacrifice fly (the throw actually hit Maldonado as he was sliding into third), Gallardo himself drove in the game’s first run. That was all the Brewers got that inning, but they added on massively later.

The Brewers hit three home runs off Arroyo in the sixth inning, which is what they should be doing to him all the time. Aramis Ramirez, who had been barking with Arroyo earlier in the game due to some beef that goes back a ways, hammered his 14th home run of the season. Corey Hart followed that up with a mammoth shot into the Harley Davidson deck (if you know Miller Park’s geography you know that’s pretty far). Then, after a single by Rickie Weeks, Maldonado hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball off the bat, but it just kept carrying until it was a two-run homer.

The only Reds tally came in the seventh on a Zack Cozart home run, which was the one blemish on Gallardo’s line.

Then, in the eighth, the bullpen appeared to be having one of its classic meltdowns. Jay Bruce led off the inning with a single off Francisco Rodriguez. One batter later, Scott Rolen hit a ground-rule double that put men on second and third with one out. After K-Rod walked Todd Frazier to load the bases, Ron Roenicke opted to go to the Brewers’ other struggling closer, John Axford. Ax promptly gave up an RBI single to Xavier Paul. Then, the Brewers were given a dash of luck. On a 3-2 pitch to Dioner Navarro, he hit into the right center gap, and it looked like it was going to be a bases-clearing double. But, right fielder Norichika Aoki saved the game with a sliding catch, and it turned into a sacrifice fly for Navarro. Axford then induced a Cozart pop-out to end the threat.

The Brewers tacked on one more on Maldonado’s RBI double in the bottom of the eighth. That allowed Axford to come back out for the ninth and record his first multi-inning save since 2010 (yes, all the way back to the Ken Macha era).

The Analysis

> Segura made his anticipated Brewers debut tonight, batting eighth and playing shortstop. It didn’t go well, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He saw eight pitches total, six of which were sliders that his nerves wouldn’t let him lay off of. He did have a productive at-bat to advance Maldo to third in the fifth, and he smashed a line drive to right field in the sixth, although Bruce had him played perfectly.

Segura didn’t look bad defensively, though. I was worried he’d pull some Yuni B’s in his debut, but that didn’t happen, thankfully.

I’m excited to see what Segura will do in the future for the Brewers. I have very high hopes for the kid who was the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade for the Brewers.

> I forgot to mention this last night, but Jim Henderson finally gave up a run. His ERA is now 1.93. Despite the small sample size, I consider him the most reliable reliever in our bullpen. Had Axford blown it tonight, my theory of Henderson closing may have became a reality.

The News

> Shaun Marcum will make his first rehab start for Class A Wisconsin on Thursday, which will be the first step for his comeback. Once he comes back, he’ll basically be auditioning for the free agent market or a late August trade, though.

> Cesar Izturis is headed to the Nationals, as he was claimed off waivers by them earlier today. That allowed the Brewers to call up Segura and get a look at him.

>And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up, which should be a low-scoring contest, with each team’s best pitcher going:

Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA)


Brewers hope to snap skid at home

August 6, 2012

Pregame News and Notes

Here’s what the Brewers lineup is looking like tonight:

  1. Norichika Aoki RF
  2. Carlos Gomez CF
  3. Ryan Braun LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
  5. Corey Hart 1B
  6. Rickie Weeks 2B
  7. Martin Maldonado C
  8. Jean Segura SS
  9. Yovani Gallardo P

Amazing how much formidable of a lineup that looks like without Cesar Izturis or Cody Ransom.

> The Brewers called up Segura in an unexpected move today. Izturis was sent to the Nationals in a trade (they placed a waiver claim on him), so, in a corresponding move, they were able to give Segura a chance. The young shortstop hit .433 since being sent to Double-A Huntsville upon his acquisition, and his batting eighth tonight in his first start with the Brewers.

(Scroll down for the news/opinions from earlier today)

*****************

> The Brewers just can’t seem to find a break in their schedule that will get them going. Ever since the All-Star break, they haven’t been able to match up against the tough opponents that have been thrown at them. After going 4-2 against the Pirates and Cardinals to start their post-ASB season, the Reds dealt them a crushing blow, basically sweeping the Brewers out of contention.

Obviously, things haven’t gone well since. The Brewers were then swept by the Phillies in a series that should have been a sweep in the Brewers’ favor, but that series exposed how bad this bullpen truly is. Then the Nationals took three out of four from the Brewers at Miller Park. The Brewers followed that up with a three-game sweep of the Astros (who almost don’t even count as a team anymore), managing to put up enough offense that series to get around the horrible bullpen.

But, after getting swept out of St. Louis last night, the Brewers find themselves 17.5 games out of the division leader Reds, 10.5 games behind the third place Cards, and 13 games out of the second Wild Card slot. The Brewers have yet to be mathematically eliminated (unlike the Astros), but any real chance of contending definitely diminished after this series in St. Louis.

So, as Brewers fans, all we can hope for now is that the Brewers can just win some games and bring our spirits up, even if they aren’t in contention. That starts with a tough three-game series at home against the Reds, who have become the best team in baseball (66-42) after a recent hot stretch that included a 10-game winning streak (after which radio voice Marty Brennaman shaved his head).

Anyway, tonight’s match-up is between Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA) and Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92 ERA). Arroyo is 13-8 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against the Brewers. The Brewers seemed to have Arroyo solved for a while, but he’s come back to once again make Brewers hitters look foolish this season. Gallardo, on the other hand, continues to be relatively inconsistent against the Reds. Over his past two starts against Cincy (both at Great American Ball Park), he’s 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA. As always, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, and Scott Rolen have given him trouble over that span. Thank goodness Joey Votto is on the disabled list right now.

> Remember Yuniesky Betancourt? Of course you do. He was designated for assignment by the Royals yesterday after supposedly complaining about not getting enough playing time. It sounds like the Royals were going to give him a chance to stay had he been satisfied with less playing time so that younger players could get a shot, but Yuni wasn’t going to play that.

Betancourt was struggling at the plate this season, hitting just .228 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs. He also missed 27 games in May, which didn’t help with that.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betancourt back in a Brewers uniform before too long. The Cody Ransom/Cesar Izturis platoon just isn’t getting it done offensively (although I have to say I like their defense most of the time). Even though recently-acquired Jean Segura has been tearing it up at Double-A Huntsville, the Brewers seem reluctant to call him up until rosters expand in September. So that leaves the shortstop position in the flux it’s been in all season.

Which leads me to believe that Doug Melvin, who considered re-signing Betancourt last offseason as a utilityman, might go after him now. I’m not saying I’m in agreement with it (which I’m not), but don’t be surprised to see it happen.

UPDATE: Never mind what I said about Segura. According to multiple sources, he’s been called up to the big leagues. Izturis is also reportedly heading to the Nationals.

> Another ex-Brewer was also DFA’d yesterday in outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. There’s no chance the Brewers pick him up, though, since they’re already stocked with outfield depth. Plus, Gwynn is really nothing more than a late-inning defensive replacement anyway.

> Speaking of outfield depth, one Brewers outfielder seems to finally be reaching his potential: Carlos Gomez. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball lately, hitting .347 over his last 12 games. He has four home runs and 10 RBIs over that stretch. He also has five steals in that span, giving him 20 on the year, which is tied for 10th in the National League.

If the Brewers can keep him going like this on a consistent basis, what a weapon Gomez would become. He’s always been considered a five-tool player, but only three of those tools appeared in his first few years in the big leagues- a cannon arm, stellar play in center field, and speed on the bases. In this stretch of games, the other two tools- hitting for both average and power- have finally shown themselves.

I doubt Gomez will ever be a .300 hitter; I just can’t see it happening. But the power could be there to stick, which gives the lineup a huge boost.

> And that’s about it. I’ll update with the probable lineups later, but for now, thanks for reading.


Morgan, bullpen make sure Brewers get swept

August 6, 2012

> Getting swept by division opponents multiple times is no way to get back into a playoff race. But the Brewers appear to have yet to learn that, as they were shut out by the Cardinals today, 3-0. There are plenty of things we could criticize as to what went wrong today, but I’d just be explaining basically the same thing I’ve been saying all season.

Marco Estrada still couldn’t find his first win, despite putting up another quality start. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It was a very gutsy outing for Estrada, who, after giving up an RBI double Daniel Descalso in the second inning, was pretty much untouchable. He kept the Brewers in the game while he was in, but was foolishly removed (more on that later).

Anyway, the Cardinals added two more runs late, with Allen Craig hitting an RBI double in the seventh and a David Freese RBI single in the eighth.

(EM’s coverage)

***************************

> So here was what pretty much lost the game for the Brewers. The Cardinals removed starter Kyle Lohse after six scoreless innings, so you’d think the Brewers would be jumping for joy that he was out. And it looked like they were. Cody Ransom promptly led off the seventh with a single off Edward Mujica. Estrada’s spot in the batting order was next, so Ron Roenicke pinch-hit for him with Nyjer Morgan (who, as usual, was massively booed). Estrada is not a good hitting pitcher, so I can understand pinch-hitting for him in this situation. But, as I expected, Morgan was going to bunt anyway, which he did. And what did he do? He tried putting down the sacrifice, popped it up, and catcher Yadier Molina easily fielded it. Ransom, naturally running on the sacrifice attempt, was doubled off at first.

Which brings me to my point: if Morgan was going to bunt anyway, why not let Estrada lay it down instead? Morgan has proven that he’s extremely inconsistent at bunting. And, Estrada’s pitch count was at a manageable 84 through six innings, so he could have given at least one- if not two- more innings and save our horrible bullpen.

But, as we learned even in the great 2011 season, Roenicke likes pinch-hitting for players so that the pinch-hitter can bunt, when the original hitter could have done it himself, and Roenicke hates the idea of pitchers going deep into games. Even though our bullpen is the worst in baseball this year.

I don’t even want to attempt to explain what probably goes on in our manager’s mind.

> For the third straight regular season start, Lohse inexplicably dominated the Brewers. Going into 2011, Lohse was 3-10 with a 5.10 ERA in his career against the Brewers, and didn’t have a win against them as a Cardinal. But, in his last three regular season starts against the Crew, he’s 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. (That excludes the postseason, when the Brewers beat him in Game 4 of the NLCS.)

> Shaun Marcum is closing in on his return to the starting rotation, as he threw a simulated game at Busch Stadium today.

But, to be honest with you, I’m not looking forward to his return anymore. The Brewers (and Marcum himself) have made it clear that they aren’t going to make a run at re-signing the crafty right-hander, so I don’t want to see him pitch at the end of the season and watch what could have had (but won’t) the next few years.

> And that’s about it. The Brewers return to Miller Park tomorrow to start a three-game series against the Reds. The Reds are a division opponent, so there’s a good chance of the Brewers getting swept by them (again). But we can at least hope that the Brewers win one or two in this series, right?

Anyway, here are the probables:

Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92 ERA)

Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (5-4, 1.88 ERA)

Mat Latos (10-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.57 ERA)


Brewers’ offense once again absent against Reds

July 22, 2012

> This is frustrating, and just doesn’t make any sense. The Brewers, who were once known as one of the better offensive teams in baseball, have been unable to score runs at what is, statistically speaking, a hitter’s haven, otherwise known as Great American Ball Park. That trend did indeed continue today, as the Brewers fell to the Reds, 6-2.

Great American Ballpark was a house of horrors for the Brewers in 2010, and most of 2011. The Brewers swept the Reds at their home park in September of 2010, but they’ve proved this year that it was a fluke.

Yovani Gallardo’s line today was somewhat deceptive. He went 5 2/3 innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out just one. Anyway, Gallardo gave up four runs right away in the first inning. Jay Bruce hit an RBI single, Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly, and then Ryan Ludwick smashed a mistake pitch from Gallardo for a two-run shot. After that inning, Gallardo held the Reds in check. But, the way the offense has been lately, a 4-0 deficit is far too much to come back from.

The Brewers got their first run in the fourth inning on Corey Hart’s RBI single. They got their second and last run when a run scored on Aramis Ramirez’s double play in the sixth. The sixth could have become a big inning for the Brewers, but the double play- which was slickly turned by shortstop Zack Cozart and second baseman Brandon Phillips- killed the rally.

The Reds tacked on two more in the seventh against Jose Veras, a two-run blast from Phillips, which pretty much put the icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, Bronson Arroyo once again inexplicably dominated the Brewers. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out six. I guess I don’t really see what’s so good about Arroyo, since other teams seem to hit him just fine.

> And that’s already about it. Not much news today, other than this pretty crushing loss, since the Brewers desperately needed to get out of Cincy with a series win.

Anyway, here’s tomorrow’s match-up:

Michael Fiers (3-3, 2.01 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-5, 2.28 ERA)


Brewers out-pitched in Cincy opener

July 21, 2012

> Tonight was just an ugly game on all fronts. The Brewers fell to the Reds, 3-1, in the first game of a critical series for the Crew. To put it simply, the Brewers were out-pitched by a Reds pitching staff that’s been pretty hot lately.

The Brewers’ pitching wasn’t, either, but wasn’t enough to match the Reds. Marco Estrada went seven solid innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. But, all three of the runs he gave up came on solo home run balls, coming from Zack Cozart (fourth inning), Jay Bruce, and Scott Rolen (both in the seventh inning). But Estrada had a very Estrada-like start: he mowed through the Reds’ lineup the first time through, nine up, nine down. But he broke in the fourth inning on Cozart’s homer.

Anyway, the Brewers’ only run came in the eighth inning on Norichika Aoki’s RBI double. That was the one blemish on Reds starter Homer Bailey’s line, who was stellar tonight. He went eight innings while giving up one run on six hits. He also didn’t walk a batter and struck out a career-high ten. The one thing I don’t understand is that Bailey was 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA in his career against the Brewers coming into this start, and they had already rocked him twice this year. You could make the argument that Bailey is hot right now, I suppose, but I’m not completely bought into that. Bailey went eight innings in his first start after the All-Star break against the struggling Cardinals lineup, which we saw last series. Maybe this just means the Brewers’ lineup is struggling.

The Reds used Aroldis Chapman to finish off the Brewers, who threw a perfect inning with two K’s. There were no somersaults tonight, though.

> There was one bright spot tonight: Ryan Braun’s 1,000th career hit. He came into today with 998, and got hits in his first two at-bats. He becomes the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-hit milestone, but got to the milestone the quickest in franchise history, needing just 815 career games to do it. That’s even faster than the likes of Pete Rose, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount.

> Zack Greinke has confirmed himself that the Brewers have indeed made a contract offer to him, but refused to go any further. The word on the street is the Brewers are willing to give him five years and over $100 million, but Matt Cain’s deal is still larger than that. Unless Greinke gives the Brewers a discount because he likes pitching at Miller Park or something, it seems more and more unlikely that he’s going to get traded (or will just walk into free agency at the end of the season).

> A couple of starting pitching notes: Shaun Marcum will throw off flat ground tomorrow for the first time since he went on the disabled list. There’s still no timetable for his return, however.

Also, Tyler Thornburg has been moved back to the bullpen with the impending return of Greinke. Thorn filled in for Greinke against the Cards the day before yesterday.

> One more thing before I go. I was pretty disturbed at something I saw on Twitter tonight. I tweeted something after Braun made an outfield assist to throw out Rolen at home, and some obnoxious Reds fan made a crack about him being on steroids. It’s really too bad that this had to happen to Braun, because idiots, such as this random guy from the Reds fan base, are going to think for the rest of his career that he did a performance-enhancing drug.

Braun didn’t get out of it on a “technicality,” he got out of it because of a flaw in the process. Other than that, there wasn’t proof that he did it.

Also, Braun has vindicated himself so far this season. He clearly isn’t doing any drug, otherwise routine drug tests would have shown it by now. Yet he’s still putting up these numbers. That’s the part of this whole thing that fans of other teams seem to be misunderstanding- or just ignoring so they can keep making cracks at him.

> And that’s about it. I leave you with tomorrow’s match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 3.59 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-6, 4.03 ERA)


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