Gennett wins it for Crew after Nelson’s great start

May 25, 2016

RECAP

> After being swept at the hands of the Mets, the Brewers got their series in Atlanta off to a good start, defeating the Braves 2-1. It was an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel between Jimmy Nelson (4-3, 2.92 ERA) and Julio Teheran (1-4, 2.57 ERA), but despite stellar starts from each, neither factored into the decision. Scooter Gennett ended up being the hero for the Brewers with his go-ahead hit in the eighth inning.

Milwaukee drew first blood in the fourth inning on Ryan Braun’s frozen rope to center field for his eighth homer of the year. However, the Braves tied it in the fifth on an RBI triple from Mallex Smith (who?). Atlanta’s demise came when reliever Bud Norris walked Ramon Flores and Jonathan Villar in the eighth, setting the stage for Gennett’s go-ahead RBI single. The Brewers received scoreless relief from Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg, and Jeremy Jeffress, who recorded his twelfth save of the year.

> Nelson didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but, as aces do, he made it work and still posted a solid start (although he was facing the worst team in the National League). He threw six innings of one-run ball, walking three and striking out eight. Just as he did in his last start against the Cubs, he had to dance around danger all night, but managed to limit the damage. One worry I still have about Nelson is the middle innings, which have given him issues at time throughout his career; Smith’s RBI triple happened to come in the fifth inning today. But, with his ERA now at 2.92 and him pitching leaps and bounds better than anyone else in the rotation, I’m in no place to complain at the moment.

Nelson’s mound opponent, Teheran, was better tonight and certainly deserved to win. The Atlanta ace went seven innings while allowing just one run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 12. This was no surprise, however, as Teheran came into today with a 2.04 ERA in five career starts against the Brewers.

> This series is already better than the Mets series was as a whole. After Wily Peralta blew an early lead in the first game, the Brewers went on to blow two more leads in the next two games. Despite the fact Milwaukee knocked around Jacob deGrom (5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) on Saturday, Zach Davies (5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) wasn’t great either. David Wright eventually hit a walk-off single off of Blazek in the ninth to give the Mets a 5-4 win.

The series finale was ugly as well. After Jonathan Lucroy’s early RBI single, Noah Syndergaard (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K) went to work and carved up the Crew. Chase Anderson (5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) wasn’t awful, but wasn’t good either; his damage included a solo homer from Michael Conforto in the 3-1 loss.

NEWS

> Will Smith is on his way back to the bullpen, as he began a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Brevard County today. He threw a scoreless seventh inning against Clearwater, the Class A Advanced affiliate of the Phillies.

> Corey Knebel should also be back in the bullpen before long. He threw a bullpen at Turner Field today.

> The Brewers have reportedly been connected to Cuban outfielder Yadiel Hernandez.

> Milwaukee released right-handed reliever Jim Miller today. He had pitched to a 7.41 ERA  in 17 innings for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

STATS

> I looked at Taylor Jungmann’s Triple-A stats today for the first time in a while, and they aren’t pretty. The Brewers’ first-round pick from 2011 has a 12.76 ERA in five starts since being sent back to Colorado Springs for the first time since he was recalled in June of 2015.

Jungmann was sent down in late April after going 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA in his first five starts of 2016. However, even if he’s actually pitching well, his numbers won’t show it because Colorado (need I say more?). However, a 12.76 ERA is awful, even if he’s pitching in a hitter-friendly park.

> Teheran pulled off the rare four-strikeout inning in the second today.

> The Brewers will look to take this three-gamer from the Braves tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. CT. Junior Guerra (3-0, 3.96 ERA) will look to stay hot in his first career start against Atlanta. The Braves will counter with Mike Foltynewicz (1-2, 4.57 ERA); the flame-throwing right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his career against Milwaukee.


Anderson regains form vs. Cubs

May 18, 2016

RECAP

> After a series of subpar performances, it looks like the Chase Anderson we saw in his first two starts of the season is back. The righty dominated the best team in baseball, as the Brewers took down the Cubs, 4-2. Anderson (2-5, 5.32 ERA) took a perfect game into the sixth inning, a no-hitter into the eighth, and looked primed for a one-hit shutout before Chicago’s bats started to heat up in the ninth. He went 8 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out six.

Anderson and Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 3.51 ERA) exchanged goose eggs through the first three innings before Jonathan Lucroy broke the silence in the fourth with a solo home run. The Brewers struck again in the sixth on Ryan Braun’s RBI single and a two-run double from Chris Carter.

That was more than enough for Anderson, who posted undoubtedly the best start from a Brewers pitcher this season. In his last start against the Marlins, he threw three perfect innings to start the game, and he took that to the next level today with seven perfect innings. Ben Zobrist led off the eighth with a double to break up the bid, but Anderson would retire the next three in order to escape unscathed.

Anderson induced a Tommy La Stella flyout and a groundout from Dexter Fowler to start the ninth inning. He then had Jason Heyward down 0-2, and all that stood between Anderson and his first career complete game was one strike. Heyward had other plans, however, as he deposited an 0-2 fastball on the inner part of the plate into the visiting bullpen. Craig Counsell decided to stick with Anderson to see if he could finish it off, but the next batter, Kris Bryant, went back-to-back with Heyward. It was disappointing to see Anderson depart after he’d been literally a strike away from a one-hitter, although the curveball that Jeremy Jeffress finished Anthony Rizzo with during his one-out save eased the pain a bit.

> The Brewers improved to 17-22 tonight while the Cubs fell to 27-10, but Chicago is still comfortably the best team in the game. This came following a series split against the Padres, which saw some solid pitching from the Brewers for the most part. After they failed to support Jimmy Nelson in the first game, Milwaukee scored just one run– a Carter sacrifice fly– in the second game, but that was enough for Junior Guerra (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K), who had the best start of his young career. Christian Friedrich (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 4 K) took the tough luck loss for the Padres.

The third game was a roller coaster, but the Brewers eventually fell 8-7 in 12 innings. Thanks to another ugly start from Wily Peralta (4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), the Brewers found themselves down 6-2 headed into the seventh. They scored a pair of runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game, but back-to-back homers from Derek Norris and Melvin Upton Jr. off Chris Capuano in the top of the twelfth sealed the deal for San Diego. The Brewers did have some nice offensive performances on the day, as Jonathan Villar went 3-for-5, Lucroy 2-for-6, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis 3-for-7 with three RBIs.

The series finale was a pitchers’ duel between Zach Davies (6 1/3, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) and Cesar Vargas (5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), but it ended in favor of the Brewers thanks to Carter’s go-ahead RBI double in the seventh. Despite the fact Davies gave up a game-tying homer to Brett Wallace in the top of the seventh, it was nice to see him flash the dominant form he showed last September.

NEWS

> Peralta’s rotation spot may not be safe for much longer. Counsell declined to go into detail, but implied that he can’t continue to pitch the way he has. The Brewers’ opening day starter this year, Peralta currently owns the worst WHIP (1.99) and second-worst ERA (7.30) among qualifying Major League starters.

That’s right: he was our opening day starter this season. I don’t blame you if you forgot. The Brewers’ starting rotation has struggled mightily as a unit this season, but Peralta has been the poster boy of those struggles. I thought the same thing during his first full season in the Majors in 2013, but I’ve never been able to understood how a guy blessed with as good of stuff as Peralta can be so bad. He has a fastball with tail that consistently touches the upper-90s, a wipeout slider (though it hasn’t exactly been “wipeout” in 2016, I suppose) in the mid-to-upper 80s, and a decent change-up as well.

I might delve deeper into why he’s continued to regress this season in another article, but what it basically comes down to is his control. His strikeout percentage is down in 2016 while his walk percentage has skyrocketed. Another factor could be spin rate: in 2015, Peralta had the lowest spin rate (1,741 rpm) on his two-seam fastball in the Majors. Spin rate is a different measure of a pitch than velocity; when you hear a pitcher has “late life” on his fastball, that means the fastball has a high spin rate. It’s definitely something to look into a bit more, but that might start to answer why Peralta’s potential isn’t translating into better numbers, or at least decent numbers like he posted in 2014.

Matt Garza will come off the disabled list at some point, and someone’s going to have to move to the bullpen or head to the minors when that time comes. Unfortunately for Peralta, everyone else in the rotation seems to be headed in the right direction: Nelson is the undisputed ace, Guerra has outperformed most of the rotation while filling in for Taylor Jungmann, and both Anderson and Davies have had a few solid starts in a row. Peralta is facing a similar situation that fell upon Kyle Lohse in 2015: Lohse, the opening day starter in 2015, was moved to the bullpen midway through the season due to ineffectiveness.

> The Brewers will look to take the series from the Cubs tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. CT. Nelson (4-3, 3.51 ERA) will get the ball for the Crew while John Lackey (4-2, 3.54 ERA) will go for the Cubs. Despite a 3.35 ERA in his career against the Cubs, Nelson is 0-4 against them, including a start earlier this year when he gave up a run over 5 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Lackey has dominated the Brewers in his career, going 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA in eight starts against them.


Crew splits with Reds, loses 2 of 3 to Fish

May 12, 2016

SERIES RECAPS

> This past seven-game road trip certainly saw some high points from the Brewers, but in the end, they went just 3-4. After a discouraging start to the series in Cincinnati, the Brewers managed to escape with a split of the four-gamer, but dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami.

> The first game of the Cincy series– a 9-5 loss– was not good. Chase Anderson’s struggles continued, as he went five innings while giving up seven runs (six earned) on six hits. Anderson desperately needed a decent start; he had gone 0-3 with a 10.12 ERA in his three games prior. However, the Reds jumped all over him early, putting up a five-run first inning followed by two more in the second. The biggest blows were Jay Bruce’s three-run blast and a two-run shot from Brandon Phillips. The Brewers eventually started to fight back in the late innings, but it was too little, too late. Alex Presley’s two-run blast knocked Alfredo Simon (7 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) out of the game, and then Chris Carter hit a missile of a solo shot in the ninth.

The second game wasn’t much better. The Reds knocked around Tyler Cravy, who was making a spot start for Wily Peralta while he was on paternity leave. Cravy struggled in his four innings of work, allowing five runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four. Joey Votto and Phillips both had home runs off Cravy while Adam Duvall hit an RBI double. Rookie starter Tim Adleman was good for the Reds, holding the Brewers to a run on four hits over five innings. He walked three and struck out four; the only damage against Adleman was Presley’s second home run of the series. Also notable in this game was the Reds snapping a streak of 24 games in which their bullpen had allowed at least a run.

Things turned around for the Brewers in the third game, as they won 13-7 in 10 innings. Jimmy Nelson (5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) got knocked around, and the Brewers found themselves down 6-2 heading into the sixth inning. However, a three-run sixth that included a solo homer from Jonathan Lucroy and an Aaron Hill two-run shot pulled them within one. Hill then tied the game in the eighth on his second home run of the game. The Brewers managed to send the game to extras, and they broke the game open in the tenth inning. Ryan Braun, Lucroy, and Carter hit consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs, and then Hill came up and slugged his third home run of the game in the form of a go-ahead grand slam. The Brewers didn’t stop there, as Jonathan Villar hit a bases-clearing double later in the inning to put the Reds away.

The fourth game, a 5-4 Brewers win, was another great comeback. Milwaukee struck first on Braun’s solo shot in the first inning, but then the Reds got to Junior Guerra (6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) in the third as Tyler Holt, Ivan De Jesus Jr., and Votto all had RBI hits. Duvall then hit a home run in the fourth to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 4-1. However, the Brewers would slowly chip away over the next few innings to eventually regain the lead. Hernan Perez hit a solo shot in the fifth, Lucroy had an RBI double in the sixth, Villar had an RBI groundout in the seventh to tie the game, and then Lucroy hit a go-ahead solo home run in the eighth.

> The Miami series did not go as well. Milwaukee’s lineup was torn to shreds by Jose Fernandez in the first game; the Marlins’ ace fired seven shutout innings while giving up just four hits. He walked four and struck out 11. The only Brewers run came when Bryan Morris walked Domingo Santana with the bases loaded in the ninth. Peralta started for the Brewers, and wasn’t as terrible as he usually has been this season: he went six innings while giving up two runs on 10 hits. He walked two and struck out four. Peralta should have actually had one more run on his line, but he got lucky in the second inning. J.T. Realmuto hit what should have been a two-run home run, but he “passed” Marcell Ozuna on the basepaths and was called out; he was credited with an RBI single instead of a home run. It actually appeared to be Ozuna’s fault, as he was a few feet off first base waiting to see if the ball would be caught. Then, after Realmuto had already rounded first, Ozuna ran back to first, for whatever reason, as if he was getting ready to tag and take second base. It wound up not costing the Marlins anything, but it was still inattentive baserunning on Ozuna’s part.

The Brewers won the second game handily, 10-2. Zach Davies finally won his first game of the year, going five innings while giving up two runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out one. The only damage against Davies came on Realmuto’s RBI double in the second inning and an RBI single from Ozuna in the third. Milwaukee didn’t hit any home runs, but a majority of the lineup had great days at the plate. Villar went 2-for-6 with two RBIs, Perez was 2-for-3, Braun 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Hill 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Presley 2-for-5. Adam Conley (4.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) took the loss for the Fish, as he was not nearly as effective as he was at Miller Park a few weeks ago when he tossed 7 2/3 hitless innings.

The rubber game was a disappointing one for the Crew, as they lost 3-2. Anderson (6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) finally rebounded and posted a quality start, but he fell to a dominant Wei-Yin Chen, who struck out 12 Brewers. Anderson was stellar aside from a bad fifth inning, when he gave up a two-run homer to rising Brewer-killer Justin Bour and an Adeiny Hechavarria sacrifice fly. The only damage the Brewers could manage against Chen was a Villar RBI groundout and Braun’s RBI single, both of which came in the seventh.

NEWS

> The Brewers reinstated Scooter Gennett from the 15-day disabled list today. He had been dealing with right oblique tightness when he was placed on the DL in late April. Gennett should be a boost to the lineup, as even though he’s hit just .258 on the season, he had four home runs and a .361 on-base percentage through 18 games.

In a corresponding move, Milwaukee optioned infielder Yadiel Rivera to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Rivera had some good games here and there for the Crew, but overall was hitting just .196. It was clear that he lost his job as utility man to Perez, who has hit .276 since being recalled after Gennett was placed on the DL.

> Lefty Sam Freeman accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A.

> MLB Pipeline announced its top 30 prospects for each team, the first prospect list update of the 2016 season. Here is the Brewers’ top 30, which hasn’t changed much:

  1. Orlando Arcia, SS
  2. Brett Phillips, OF
  3. Jorge Lopez, SP (RHP)
  4. Josh Hader, SP (LHP)
  5. Trent Clark, OF
  6. Gilbert Lara, SS
  7. Kodi Medeiros, SP (LHP)
  8. Cody Ponce, SP (RHP)
  9. Devin Williams, SP (RHP)
  10. Jacob Nottingham, C
  11. Isan Diaz, SS/2B
  12. Tyrone Taylor, OF
  13. Clint Coulter, OF
  14. Demi Orimoloye, OF
  15. Monte Harrison, OF
  16. Nathan Kirby, SP (LHP)
  17. Adrian Houser, SP (RHP)
  18. Michael Reed, OF
  19. Marcos Diplan, SP (RHP)
  20. Bubba Derby, SP (RHP)
  21. Taylor Williams, SP (RHP)
  22. Yadiel Rivera, SS
  23. Jake Gatewood, 3B
  24. Rymer Liriano, OF
  25. Victor Roache, OF
  26. Freddy Peralta, SP (RHP)
  27. Miguel Diaz, SP (RHP)
  28. Damien Magnifico, RP (RHP)
  29. Jacob Barnes, RP (RHP)
  30. Brandon Woodruff, SP (RHP)

STATS

> After a slow start, Hill has found his stroke recently. Over his last 15 games, he’s hit .333 with three home runs (all of which came in the same game) and 11 RBIs.

> Nationals starter Max Scherzer struck out 20 in a start against the Tigers last night, tying the Major League record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. The only others to accomplish this feat are Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, and Kerry Wood.

> Mets starter Bartolo Colon hit his first big league home run the other night, and it was hilarious. I think the best part was that his home run trot took 31.1 seconds.

> The Brewers start a four-game set at home against the Padres tonight. Nelson (4-2, 3.74 ERA) will take on James Shields (1-5, 3.60 ERA). Milwaukee is the only team Shields has never faced in his big league career. Nelson is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA in two career starts against San Diego.

Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA), Peralta (2-4, 6.75 ERA), and Davies (1-3, 6.29 ERA) will start the other three games of the series, while the Padres have yet to announce the order of their rotation.


Brewers unable to sweep after Thornburg’s implosion

May 5, 2016

RECAP

> It looked like the Brewers had a series sweep in the bag after the sixth inning on Wednesday, but, unlike the first two games of the series, it was the Angels who played comeback and eventually beat the Brewers 7-3. Zach Davies (0-3, 6.98 ERA) was finally good enough to win, keeping Milwaukee in the game with his first quality start of the season. However, the bullpen that had been able to shut down the Angels early in the series finally broke, and the floodgates opened late in the game for the Angels.

The Brewers struck first in the second inning on Hernan Perez’s solo shot off Angels starter Hector Santiago (2-1, 3.58 ERA). The Angels quickly answered back in the top of the third, however, on Rafael Ortega’s RBI single, which was followed by a Mike Trout RBI triple to put the Halos up 2-1. Ryan Braun tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning with an RBI single, and then, in the sixth, Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded, allowing the Brewers to take the lead.

The bullpen had other plans, however. After Carlos Torres threw a clean seventh inning, Tyler Thornburg, who entered the game having had nine scoreless outings out of his ten appearances on the season, ran into a wall in the eighth. Trout waited back on an 0-2 hanging curve from Thornburg and deposited it just over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Thornburg then recorded two outs but continued to struggle, allowing a Kole Calhoun single and walking Geovany Soto. C.J. Cron ripped a go-ahead RBI double to knock Thornburg out of the game, but Johnny Giavotella greeted Blaine Boyer with a two-run single, both of which were charged to Thornburg. The Angels tacked on one more in the ninth on Calhoun’s RBI single off David Goforth.

> Davies was not spectacular on Wednesday, but with the way most of the Brewers rotation has pitched this season, even an average quality start is a miracle. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. Davies walked three and struck out three in what could have been his first win of 2016 if not for the failure of the bullpen.

He did outpitch his mound opponent, Santiago, who also took a no-decision. He went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. Santiago walked four and struck out four. The Brewers made him work, forcing him to throw 116 pitches in fewer than six innings.

NEWS

> The Brewers have recalled Tyler Cravy from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start in place of Wily Peralta on Friday. Peralta was placed on paternity leave today following the birth of his daughter.

Perhaps having his start pushed back will be of benefit to Peralta, who has struggled so far in 2016 to the tune of a 7.50 ERA. His replacement, Cravy, has already seen time in the big league bullpen this year, where he pitched to a 3.18 ERA (two runs in 5 2/3 innings) over five games. In 2015, Cravy threw most of his innings at the Major League level out of the rotation, and was 0-8 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 games (seven starts).

> The Crew claimed left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres earlier today. The Padres designated him for assignment earlier this week; he had given up four runs in just 1 1/3 innings at the big league level for San Diego after posting a 4.50 ERA (three runs in six innings) for Triple-A El Paso.

Kirkman was part of the Brewers organization last year and posted a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings for Colorado Springs, an encouraging stat given the hitter-friendly environment. While his strikeout rate was good– he had a 9.6 K/9 for the Sky Sox– he struggled mightily with his command, posting a 7.9 BB/9. Control issues have followed Kirkman all throughout his professional career, though his BB/9 in 108 innings at the big league level is a much more respectable 4.6. He has a 5.25 ERA over that span and spent most of his career with the Rangers up until 2015. Kirkman will likely audition for a spot in the Brewers bullpen, which has lacked effective left-handed relief since Will Smith went down right before the season started. They designated Sam Freeman for assignment earlier this week, leaving Chris Capuano as the only southpaw in the ‘pen at the moment.

> Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggested that the Red Sox, White Sox, and Nationals would be the best trade partners for the Brewers should they decide to part ways with Braun.

Personally, I doubt the Brewers are going to deal Braun unless they’re absolutely blown away by a potential deal. That could happen with the Red Sox and Nats, as both have pretty impressive farm systems, but I think it’s still a long shot. David Stearns hasn’t hesitated in making big trades early on in his tenure, however, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

STATS

> Trout ripped the Brewers to shreds in this series, hitting .538 (7-for-13) with two home runs and seven RBIs. He’s now hitting .522 in his career against the Crew.

> Old friend Albert Pujols also came back to haunt the Brewers, notching four hits during the series. He’s certainly nothing like he was during his glory days in St. Louis, at least average-wise: he’s hitting just .198 so for this season and hit .244 in 2015. However, he slugged 40 home runs in 2015, his highest total since 2010, so the Hall of Fame will no doubt be waiting for him at the end of the road.

> It’ll be a battle of the National League Central bottom feeders this weekend, as the Brewers start a four-game set in Cincinnati tonight. Chase Anderson (1-3, 5.55 ERA) will look to get back on track: he didn’t give up an earned run in either of his first two starts of the season, but has gone 0-3 with a 10.12 ERA in his last three starts. Here’s an encouraging stat, though: he’s 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.

The Reds will counter with Alfredo Simon (0-3, 13.50 ERA), who has been absolutely atrocious in 2015. He has yet to make it into the sixth inning in any of his starts and has only completed five once. Simon sports a 3.29 ERA in his career against the Brewers over 11 appearances, though just two of them were starts.

Here are the match-ups for the rest of the series:

Tyler Cravy (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

Jimmy Nelson (4-2, 3.05 ERA) vs. Brandon Finnegan (1-1, 3.97 ERA)

Junior Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. John Lamb (0-0, 1.50 ERA)

 


Nelson stars on mound, at plate vs. Angels

May 3, 2016

RECAP

> It ended up being much closer than it should have been, but the Brewers’ 8-5 win over the Angels on Monday night was a big one nonetheless.

Jimmy Nelson (4-2, 3.05 ERA) held down a tough Angels lineup, as he went seven innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six in what was probably his best start since his first of the season against the Giants. The only damage against Nelson came from Mike Trout, who had an RBI single in the first inning and a solo home run in the sixth.

Nelson was also locked in at the plate against Angels starter Jered Weaver (3-1, 5.40 ERA), as he notched two hits off the soft-tossing righty. One of those was an RBI single in the fifth inning that came in the midst of the Brewers’ first four-run rally. Yadiel Rivera also had an RBI single in the inning, and then Jonathan Lucroy capped it off with a two-run double to give the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

The Brewers had another four-run inning in the sixth. After Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Aaron Hill started the inning with back-to-back singles, Rivera hit another RBI single to knock Weaver out of the game. Jonathan Villar hit a two-run double later in the inning, which was followed by a Ryan Braun RBI single.

Both of those hits turned out to be valuable insurance for the Brewers, as the bullpen made it interesting after Nelson’s departure. Michael Blazek gave up RBI hits to Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron in the eighth before Jeremy Jeffress struggled in a non-save situation in the ninth. After giving up a two-out single to Rafael Ortega, Trout drove him in with an RBI single after he advanced on defensive indifference. Pujols continued the rally with a single, and then Jeffress walked Kole Calhoun to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in Ji-Man Choi. Jeffress regrouped and induced a groundout to seal the win.

> This series is off to a better start than the Miami series, in which the Brewers lost two of three. Adam Conley no-hit the Brewers through 7 2/3 innings, but Don Mattingly pulled him– with the no-hitter still intact– at 116 pitches. Lucroy broke up the no-no in the ninth off reliever Jose Urena, and the Brewers turned that it into a three-run rally, but still lost 6-3. Milwaukee also fell in the second game 7-5 thanks to a blow-up start from Chase Anderson, but outslugged the Fish 14-5 in the third game. Chris Carter homered twice and Domingo Santana also had a solo shot while Villar, Braun, Nieuwenhuis, and Martin Maldonado also had RBIs. Wily Peralta had another terrible start, but still received the win thanks to his offense.

NEWS

> Junior Guerra will start tomorrow in place of Taylor Jungmann, who was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week.

Guerra is an interesting story. He received a 50-game PED suspension in 2008, and then played anywhere he could find employment, including leagues in Kansas, Italy, Venezuela, and Mexico. Guerra finally made it to the majors last year with the White Sox but made just three relief appearances. This will be his first big league start.

Guerra’s stats at Triple-A this season aren’t impressive: he owns a 4.63 ERA over four starts. However, the Brewers’ top pitching prospect, Jorge Lopez, has struggled to an 8.79 ERA so far this year in his first Triple-A action, otherwise he likely would have gotten the nod. According to Craig Counsell, Josh Hader– who has dominated at Double-A Biloxi to the tune of a 0.78 ERA thus far– did not receive consideration for the start.

The Brewers designated left-handed reliever Sam Freeman for assignment to make room for Guerra on the 25-man roster. Freeman has good stuff, but struggled to harness it in a Brewers uniform, as he posted a 12.91 ERA (11 runs in 7 2/3 innings). He also walked more batters (nine) than he struck out (eight).

> As Braun is off to a hot start this season, many are speculating that he could make a good trade piece for the Brewers somewhere down the line. There is a clause in Braun’s current contract extension that allows him to choose the teams he can block trades to every season; this year, he can veto a trade to every team in baseball except the Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, and Padres.

STATS

> Braun is currently fourth in the league in batting with his .372 average.

> Carter’s seven home runs tie him for seventh in the league in the category.

> Nieuwenhuis has brought his average up to .279. He could be the Brewers’ short-term answer in center field.

> Trout, widely regarded as the best all-around player in baseball, showed the Brewers why on Monday: he went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, as well as a stolen base. He’s played just four games against Milwaukee in his career, but over that span, he has destroyed the Brewers, as he’s hitting .600 (9-for-15) against them.

> I’m pretty sure Weaver didn’t throw a pitch harder than 84 MPH today. His decline in velocity over the past few years has been insane; it’s hard to believe he was once one of the premier strikeout pitchers in baseball. After keeping the Brewers off balance through the first four innings, they finally got to Weaver in the fifth. He ended up going 5+ innings while giving up seven runs on 11 hits. Weaver walked two and struck out three.

> Tomorrow’s match-up is Guerra (0-0, -.–) against Nick Tropeano (1-0, 2.11 ERA). Neither pitcher has faced the opposing team.


Brewers outslugged in third straight loss

April 24, 2016

RECAP

> It was an ugly night for the Brewers pitching staff on Saturday when they fell to the Phillies, 10-6. It was clear from the first batter of the game that Chase Anderson (1-2, 4.50 ERA) was going to have a long night, and even though he battled, Philadelphia’s lineup drove up his pitch count too much early on, which was his downfall.

For the second night in a row, the Brewers struck first blood, as Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single in the first inning gave the Brewers an early lead. The Phillies retaliated with three runs in the top of the third, but Milwaukee quickly answered back in the bottom of the third against lefty Brett Oberholtzer. Jonathan Villar worked an eight-pitch walk to lead off the inning, and then, two batters later, Ryan Braun hit his fourth home run of the season, a rope to left field to tie the game 3-3. After another Lucroy single and Chris Carter’s double, Domingo Santana gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice.

However, the Phillies posted another three-run inning in the third: Cesar Hernandez led off with a walk, Odubel Herrera followed with a single, and then Maikel Franco hit his third home run in two games to give the Phils a lead the would not relinquish. Franco continued to be a thorn in the Brewers’ side, driving in a run with a single in the sixth inning.

Down 7-4 in the eighth, the Brewers rallied and appeared prime for a comeback. Carter led off the inning with a solo shot– his team-leading fifth of the year– off reliever Dalier Hinojosa. Milwaukee would get one more in the inning on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly, leaving the Brewers down by one heading into the ninth. Jeremy Jeffress was tasked with holding the Phillies down to set the stage for a comeback in the bottom of the inning, but he was unable to do so: he allowed an RBI double to Hernandez and then a two-run blast to Herrera to put the game out of reach.

> Anderson by no means performed well on this night, but he was victim to some bad luck, especially during the Phillies’ three-run third inning. He walked Herrera to lead off the inning, but then induced back-to-pack pop-ups from Freddy Galvis and Franco and appeared to have a way out without allowing a run. Anderson had the next batter, Ryan Howard, in a 2-2 count and threw what appeared to be a decent pitch, a curveball low and outside. Howard tried to check his swing but couldn’t completely and blooped the ball in the air towards third base. Unfortunately, it was somehow too far over the shortstop Villar’s head (Villar was the only one on the left side of the infield due to the shift) and fell into no man’s land between Villar and the left fielder Braun, resulting in a game-tying RBI single for Howard.

Darin Ruf followed him with the most well-struck ball of the inning, a line drive to right center for a single. Carlos Ruiz then hit a soft ground ball down the right field line for another RBI single; had the first baseman Carter been in his normal position, he probably would have fielded it with ease, but for whatever reason he was playing way off the line. Tyler Goeddel was next in line, and he hit– you guessed it– a bloop RBI single over the head of second baseman Scooter Gennett.

So, in essence, Anderson gave up three runs on four hits in the inning, but it’s not like the Phillies were spraying extra-base hits all over the field. Just one of the four hits– Ruf’s single– was well-struck, and the rest were just poor luck for Anderson.

As a result, Anderson’s line was not pretty: he needed 99 pitches to make it through just four innings. He allowed six runs on eight hits while walking four– uncharacteristically high for him– and striking out two.

> Phillies starter Charlie Morton (1-1, 4.15 ERA), a name Brewers fans might recognize from his days with the Pirates, didn’t factor in the decision. He left the game in the top of the second after pulling a muscle and tripping on his way to first; the initial diagnosis was a hamstring strain. Morton threw just one inning in the game, giving up a run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

NEWS

> Matt Garza is making strides as he hopes to return from the disabled list earlier than anticipated. He’s been taking batting practice with the team for the last few days, and hopes to start throwing within the next week. Garza was placed on the disabled list shortly after spring training ended with a right lat strain.

> The Brewers recalled outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday. He was off to a hot start with the Sky Sox, hitting .381 over 34 plate appearances. Presley could compete with Kirk Nieuwenheis and Ramon Flores for the center field job, which is still up for grabs after opening day center fielder Keon Broxton was optioned last week.

In a corresponding move, reliever Tyler Cravy was optioned to Triple-A. Cravy had allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings (3.18 ERA) so far this season. Right-hander Zack Jones was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Presley on the 40-man roster.

STATS

> As Anderson was unable to post a quality start today, the Brewers remain stuck at just four quality starts on the season, which is 29th in the majors. Jimmy Nelson has three of the Brewers’ four quality starts, which were his starts against the Giants (two runs in 7 1/3 innings), Astros (two runs in 6+ innings), and Pirates (three runs in 6+ innings). The other one was Anderson’s start against the Cardinals (three runs in six innings).

The quality start– defined as the starting pitcher going at least six innings and allowing no more than three earned runs– is definitely an overrated and useless stat, but it is alarming that the Brewers only have four at this point in the season. The Brewers have had some other good starts, such as Taylor Jungmann’s first start of the season (one earned run in five innings against the Giants) and Anderson’s first start (five shutout innings against Houston), but both failed to complete the six-inning minimum.

> Franco’s average was .241 coming into this series; he has brought it up to .299 in two games.

> Lucroy extended his hitting streak to eight games.

> The runs Jeffress allowed in the ninth were the first runs he has given up all season.

> Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, living up to and possibly surpassing the high expectations set for him, is off to a crazy start: he’s allowed just one earned run over his first four starts. That is the lowest total any pitcher has ever given up over his first four starts in the history of the game (minimum 20 innings pitched).

> The Brewers will look to avoid being swept by Philadelphia tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. CT. They’ll send the struggling Wily Peralta (0-3, 8.35 ERA) to the mound, who is still in search of his first win; he’ll also hope to bring his ERA down to a more respectable digit. The Phillies will counter with Jerad Eickhoff (1-2, 1.89 ERA), who has actually been spectacular this season, but has just one win to show for it. Peralta is 2-2 with a 6.17 ERA in his career against the Phillies, while Eickhoff has never faced the Brewers.


Davies can’t contain Franco, Phils

April 23, 2016

> A day after getting embarrassed by Ricky Nolasco and the Twins, the Brewers dropped their second straight game, losing to the Phillies 5-2. Zach Davies (0-2, 9.72 ERA) improved upon his atrocious season debut against the Pirates earlier this week, but it wasn’t enough as Philadelphia’s lineup teed off against him the second through the order.

The Brewers got on the board right away in the first inning on Chris Carter’s RBI single. That appeared to be all Davies would need, as he cruised through the the first three innings without any trouble. However, in the fourth, Cameron Rupp hit a one-out double, and then Darin Ruf tied the game with an RBI single two batters later. The Phils continued to pour it on in the fifth inning: Odubel Herrera started the rally with a one-out single, and he was promptly driven in on a Freddy Galvis triple. Maikel Franco then put the nail in the coffin with a two-run shot to left field, extending the Phillies’ lead to 4-1. They would tack on another in the seventh inning when Franco hit his second bomb of the game, this one coming off reliever Chris Capuano.

After their first inning run, the Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Phillies starter Aaron Nola. He allowed just that run on four hits over seven innings. Nola walked two and struck out seven. Milwaukee did get one more run in the ninth inning thanks to Aaron Hill’s RBI double off reliever Jeanmar Gomez but couldn’t sustain the rally.

Davies wasn’t terrible on this night; his performance was better than the average Taylor Jungmann or Wily Peralta start so far this season. However, the Phillies evidently caught onto him the second time around. Davies went six innings while giving up four runs on nine hits. He walked one and struck out five in his second loss of the season.

> A lot has happened since I last wrote in July of 2013 (which was, ironically, the day Ryan Braun received his 65-game suspension). There’s far too much between then and now for me to detail, but here’s a quick recap of the major events that have taken place.

> The Brewers finished 2013 a dismal 74-88. That was to be expected as Braun was banished from the field for a better part of the second half of the season, and beyond him there wasn’t much offense. However, it was during 2013 that Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy began their respective rises to stardom; Jean Segura also had his lone All-Star appearance in a Brewers uniform.

> Towards the end of the 2013-14 offseason, the Brewers hadn’t done much of anything, and appeared to be headed for another down year. However, shortly before the 2014 season, they stunned the baseball world and signed Matt Garza to a four-year, $52 million deal, the largest free agent signing in franchise history. All of a sudden, Milwaukee didn’t look half bad on paper, and that translated to the field, at least for most of the season. The expected 3-4 combo of Braun and Aramis Ramirez actually didn’t contribute as much as expected, but Gomez and Lucroy led the way and helped the Brewers remain in first place in the National League Central for a majority of the year. Peralta also had a career year, going 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA and establishing himself as the new ace of the rotation. However, what appeared to be a sure playoff berth descended into one of the most disappointing finishes in recent history. What could have been a decent season for Garza got cut short with an injury, the rest of the rotation struggled to find consistency, the bats went cold, and the bullpen– which had been spectacular for most of the year thanks to finds such as lefties Zach Duke and Will Smith– fell off a cliff in the season’s final months. All of this led to a 3-16 stretch between Aug. 20 and Sept. 9 that completely killed the team’s chances at making the postseason. A resurgent Mike Fiers, who returned to his dominant form from mid-2012, was the only bright spot the team had down the stretch. The Brewers finished 82-80– even worse than in 2012 when they went 83-79 despite one of the worst bullpens they’ve had in recent history– good for third place behind the Cardinals and Pirates.

> The promise heading into 2015 was that the Brewers had put their awful finish in 2014 behind them and were ready to contend again. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Milwaukee started 2-10, tying their worst start in franchise history. Things didn’t get much better, and when they were 7-18, Doug Melvin finally pulled the plug on manager Ron Roenicke, a move that felt long overdue. He brought in former fan favorite Craig Counsell, who had been working in the Brewers’ front office since his retirement after 2011, as the interim manager.

The Brewers were nowhere near contention come summer, and with a few impending free agents, moves had to be made. Melvin started the fire sale by trading Ramirez to Pittsburgh– the team that originally signed him as an amateur free agent back in 1994– in exchange for Double-A reliever Yhonathan Barrios. A shortstop-turned-pitcher, Barrios can reach triple digits, and he impressed the Brewers when rosters expanded last September. He likely would have made the team out of spring training this year, but an injury has derailed him for the time being.

The next trade was no doubt the biggest and showed fans that the Brewers are truly trying to turn over their minor league system. Melvin sent Gomez and Fiers to the Astros for a package of four prospects: outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, left-handed starter Josh Hader, and right-hander Adrian Houser. Phillips, Santana, and Hader were all in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects at the time; Phillips and Hader still are, while Santana is proving a mainstay at the major league level in 2016.

The Brewers also scammed the Orioles out of one of their top prospects. In dire need of an outfielder, Baltimore sent the Brewers their #3 prospect, the right-handed starter Davies, in exchange for Gerardo Parra. Don’t get me wrong: Parra was hitting around .330 at the time and appeared to be a good acquisition on paper for the Orioles. However, the ended up only getting him for half a season, as he signed a free agent deal with the Rockies this past offseason. Basically, the O’s traded Davies– one of their best prospects– for a short-term outfielder who didn’t even help them make the postseason.

Milwaukee made another small trade before the deadline last season, trading Jonathan Broxton to the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Malik Collymore, who is still in Rookie ball. But the fact that the Brewers got anything of value in return for Broxton is a success in my book.

Fast-forward to the end of 2016: the Brewers finished 68-94, their worst record since 2004, when they went 67-94. However, they at least got what they could have out of a terrible season on the field by completely re-stocking their minor league system, which had been considered among the worst in baseball since they went all in back in 2011. Melvin also announced near the end of the season that he would be stepping down as general manager; this allowed the Brewers to hire the young David Stearns, formerly the assistant GM for Houston.

Stearns completely turned over the Brewers’ roster prior to the 2016 season. He brought in players he was familiar with, such as first baseman Carter and shortstop Jonathan Villar, from his days with the Astros. He also made a blockbuster deal with the Diamondbacks, sending Segura and top pitching prospect Tyler Wagner to the desert in exchange for right-handed starter Chase Anderson, second baseman Hill, and minor league shortstop Isan Diaz.

At just 30 years of age, Stearns is very young to be a general manager, but he’s already served as assistant GM for both the Indians and Astros, so he has experience. He’s also had the opportunity to watch the Astros go from nothing to a contender in just a few years by efficiently building up their farm system through the draft and trades, and he seems to be using the same process with the Brewers. Who knows what 2016 will bring, but, whether it be good or bad, I feel much more comfortable with Stearns at the helm than I ever did with Melvin.

> I guess this turned into a pretty long-winded article after all, which I hoped to avoid in my first post returning, but I might as well finish it. I thought I was deserting BWI for good after I could no longer find time to write it; my last post on here would have been the summer before my junior year of high school, and now I’m finishing up my freshman year of college. To be honest, though, I’ve had the itch to bring it back ever since I quit: in 2014, I started writing an article about how the second Wild Card was ruining baseball and making non-contenders think that they were contenders; I used the Royals as my prime example (the irony is still killing me). However, I never finished that article, which was probably for the best. Then, around the Trade Deadline in 2015, I started writing one about the speculation of why the original Gomez trade, in which the Brewers would have acquired Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores from the Mets, never happened. Both of those articles are still sitting in the drafts of this website, and I’ll probably never publish them, but they’re proof that I’ve wanted to come back all this time.

If I want to keep it up, I’ll have to balance it with schoolwork and my job, among other things, but I think I can do that. I go to a small liberal arts school in southern Wisconsin, where I’m majoring in Business Economics with a minor in Journalism. I chose the school primarily because it gave me the best scholarship, but also because of an interesting job opportunity in the area with a minor league baseball team. I’ve been doing stat-stringing– essentially relaying the play-by-play as it happens to Minor League Baseball, which allows them to post it to their website– as well as writing game recaps and other articles for the team (so it isn’t like I haven’t written a sports article in three years).

I intend to keep using this blog as a means of practice for (hopeful) future jobs in journalism, but developing a fan base/network using BWI would be cool as well. I’ve done that with this site in the past, though my Twitter account definitely helped out with that. However, ever since I left Reviewing the Brew, I haven’t used my Twitter account much at all, and at this point I’d say I’m probably never going to actively use it again. In any case, if you happen to be scrolling through, feel free to drop a comment or something. I’m looking forward to getting back to this.