Nelson’s solid start for naught vs. Shields

May 13, 2016

RECAP

> The Brewers had their chances on Thursday night, but in the end could not capitalize in a 3-0 loss to the Padres. They wasted a good start from Jimmy Nelson (4-3, 3.51 ERA), who rebounded from his worst start of the season against the Reds and posted arguably his best start. He went eight innings– his longest start of the year– while giving up two runs on just five hits. Nelson walked one and struck out five.

He received no help from his offense, however, which was stymied by a dominant James Shields (2-5, 3.12 ERA). The Padres righty scattered seven hits across seven scoreless innings while walking one and striking out nine.

The respective staff aces exchanged zeros through the first three innings before the Padres broke through against Nelson in the fourth. Wil Myers led off the inning with a single and then stole second base. Nelson rallied to record two outs and had a way out of the inning, but Melvin Upton Jr. dashed those hopes with an RBI single. The only other run against Nelson came in the seventh on an Alexei Ramirez sacrifice fly. Upton gave the Padres some more insurance in the ninth inning with a solo home run off Tyler Thornburg.

> The Crew certainly had opportunities against the Padres, but Shields managed to put out the fire in every situation. The Brewers’ most promising rally came in the sixth, when they had runners on first and third with one out thanks to singles from Jonathan Villar and Scooter Gennett. However, Shields managed to induce a Ryan Braun double play to escape unscathed. That was one of three double plays San Diego’s defense turned behind Shields, which definitely helped his cause.

NEWS

> Milwaukee acquired right-handed reliever Jhan Marinez from the Rays last night in exchange for cash. Marinez has logged nine total big league innings since he debuted back in 2010. He has appeared in the Majors with the Marlins (2010), White Sox (2012), and Rays (2016) and has allowed three runs (3.00 ERA) in that small sample size. He’s logged a 4.00 ERA across 432 1/3 in 11 minor league seasons, including a 3.63 ERA in 178 1/3 innings at Triple-A. Marinez features just two pitches in his arsenal: a fastball that averages around 95 MPH and a mid-80’s slider. However, he has posted some encouraging stats during his long minor league career, including a 9.8 K/9 as well as a 25.1% strikeout rate. Conversely, Marinez has also shown control issues, with a career 5.3 BB/9 and 13.5% walk rate in the minors.

In a corresponding move, the Brewers designated left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman for assignment. Milwaukee claimed Kirkman off waivers from the Padres last week and he made just one appearance in a Brewers uniform, allowing a run in an inning.

It’ll be interesting to see if Marinez can hold down this final Brewers bullpen slot, which has been somewhat of a revolving door since the season started. Ariel Pena was rewarded the roster spot out of spring training, but was DFA’d after a disaster appearance on opening day against the Giants. Lefty Sam Freeman replaced him for a time, but he was also DFA’d after posting an ERA over 12.00. Kirkman most recently vacated the slot prior to Marinez.

> Will Smith will throw off a mound today for the first time since he tore is LCL towards the end of spring training. If that goes well, he’ll begin a throwing program. However, if he continues to struggle with the injury, surgery, which Smith has attempted to avoid at all costs, might be inevitable.

> The Rangers signed former Brewers starter Kyle Lohse to a minor league deal today.

STATS

> Nelson’s start against the Padres is the longest of any Brewers starter so far this season.

> Despite going 1-for-4 last night, Braun remains fourth in the Majors in batting average at .376.

> The Brewers outhit the Padres eight to seven last night. Upton had three of San Diego’s seven hits and was responsible for most of the damage.

> Gennett went 2-for-3 in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

> With his start against the Brewers last night, Shields has faced all 30 big league teams.

> The Brewers will hope to even up this four-game series tonight at 7:10 p.m. CT. Junior Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Crew for his third career start. He’s allowed four runs over six innings in each of his first two starts this season. San Diego will counter with Christian Friedrich (0-0, -.– ERA), who will be making his Padres debut. In two career starts against Milwaukee, both of which came with the Rockies, Friedrich is 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA.


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)

 


Brewers score run off Arrieta

April 29, 2016

RECAP

> Yesterday’s game was another disappointing loss, 7-2 at the hands of the Cubs, though this one was expected, so it didn’t hurt as much. On the bright side, the Brewers did score a run off Jake Arrieta (5-0, 1.00 ERA), who, since the beginning of the second half of last year, has been as close to superhuman as one can possibly be (except for some uncharacteristically bad outings in the postseason).

Many speculated it would happen, but it didn’t: Arrieta did not no-hit the Brewers. Though this season, back-to-back starts against the Reds and Brewers would be the most opportune time to toss back-to-back no-hitters.

Arrieta gave up just the one run, but the Brewers made him work a bit. He needed 92 pitches to make it through just five innings, and the Cubs yanked him after that. It was probably a smart decision, though, as the Cubs had a comfortable lead at the time, and Arrieta had thrown 119 pitches in his previous start. He walked four and struck out six.

The Brewers’ only two runs both came courtesy of Alex Presley, who got the start in right field while Domingo Santana had the day off. Presley had an RBI double in the fifth– a rare run-scoring hit off Arrieta– and then a sacrifice fly in the ninth. The other two hits allowed by Arrieta were both to Jonathan Villar: the first was a leadoff single in the first to deny any chance of another no-hitter, then a two-out single in the fifth to set the stage for Presley’s double.

> Taylor Jungmann (0-4, 9.15 ERA) was terrible again. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing five runs on six hits. He walked three, struck out two, and hit two batters. The biggest blows were Ben Zobrist’s two-run single in the first inning, David Ross’s solo bomb in the second, and then back-to-back RBI doubles from Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella in the third.

NEWS

> Not surprisingly, Jungmann was optioned back to Triple-A Colorado Springs following the start. Reliever David Goforth was recalled in a corresponding move.

After a decent start against the Giants in his season debut, Jungmann completely lost it. He never seemed to recover from his second start of the season, in which he allowed eight runs in just 2+ innings to the Cardinals. Jungmann came up in June of 2015 and almost acted as the ace of the staff for a time, as he went 9-5 with a 2.42 ERA in his first 16 starts in the majors. However, he completely flamed out in September, going 0-3 with a 9.53 ERA in his final five starts of the season. The Brewers hoped he was just getting tired from the extra month of the season that minor leaguers aren’t used to, but it seems he’s just become less effective. We can only hope he’ll figure something out at Triple-A.

The Brewers haven’t announced who will take his place in the rotation yet, but with Matt Garza still out for a while longer, someone will need to bridge the gap. There are a plethora of options in Triple-A right now, such as Jorge Lopez, Hiram Burgos, and Tyler Cravy (who has already seen time in the majors as a reliever this year). If the Brewers want to stay at the major league level, Chris Capuano and Tyler Thornburg are relievers who have previous starting experience.

> Scooter Gennett is headed to the 15-day disabled list with right oblique soreness. He was held out of the lineup on Tuesday with right oblique tightness. Infielder Hernan Perez, who spent most of the season with the Brewers after being claimed off waivers from the Tigers last May, has been recalled from Triple-A to take Gennett’s place.

STATS

> The Brewers’ run off Arrieta snapped his home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings, which is the second longest mark in major league history. The longest was set by Ray Herbert of the White Sox, who threw 54 consecutive scoreless innings at Comiskey Park between 1962 and 1963.

> Milwaukee walked a combined 11 batters in yesterday’s game: Jungmann had three, Capuano three, Sam Freeman four, and Carlos Torres one.

> The Brewers start a three-game set with the Marlins tonight. Zach Davies (0-2, 9.72 ERA) will take the mound against power left-hander Adam Conley (0-1, 5.12 ERA). Davies’s only start against the Marlins came late last year, when he held them to a run over seven innings. In two career starts against the Brewers, Conley has a 6.75 ERA with no decisions.

 


Brewers rained out in Chicago; make-up TBA

April 28, 2016

NEWS

> The second game of the first I-94 rivalry series of the season has been rained out. A make-up date has yet to be announced, but it sounds like it won’t be tomorrow, despite the fact the Brewers and Cubs are scheduled to play at 1:20 p.m. CT.

> I missed this last night because I wasn’t watching the game live, but Scooter Gennett was held out of the lineup due to oblique tightness. He’s listed as day-to-day at the moment; perhaps today’s extra day of rest will be beneficial to him. Utility man Yadiel Rivera got the start at second base last night in his place.

> The Brewers’ #1 prospect, Orlando Arcia, had a good night for Triple-A Colorado Springs last night that included a grand slam, his second home run of the year. Arcia has played well in his first Triple-A action so far this year, as he owns a .313 average through 17 games. He could see some time with the big league club later this year, though the Brewers’ current shortstop, Jonathan Villar, has been somewhat reliable thus far.

> With tonight’s game rained out, the match-up between Taylor Jungmann (0-3, 8.47 ERA) and Jake Arrieta (4-0, 0.87 ERA) has been pushed to tomorrow. The extra day of rest will be especially beneficial to Arrieta, as he needed 119 pitches in his no-hitter against the Reds his last time out.

Arrieta tossing another no-no tomorrow isn’t that far out of the realm of possibility, to be honest. The Brewers are 14th in the National League with a .230 team batting average, while Arrieta has carved up each of his opponents so far this year. The only pitcher to ever throw back-to-back no-hitters is Johnny Vander Meer of the Reds, who did so back in 1938.

Here’s one last ridiculous Arrieta stat: in his last 16 regular season starts, he’s 15-0 with a 0.53 ERA, including two no-hitters. He had a few blips in the 2015 postseason, but the regular season run he’s on is absolutely insane. I’d be surprised if the Brewers manage to score a run off of him tomorrow.


Bats heat up too late in loss to Cubs

April 27, 2016

RECAP

> It looked promising early on, but Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Cubs turned out to be another typical Jimmy Nelson start: he breezed along through the first few innings before running into trouble in the middle innings. His final line was three runs (one earned) on just two hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked four– which ultimately led to his ill fate– and struck out six.

The Brewers struck first on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly in the second inning. Nelson (3-2, 3.16 ERA) then cruised along for a while, shutting out a tough Cubs lineup through the first four innings. His control began to elude him in the fifth, however. Nelson walked Jorge Soler to lead off the inning, which was followed by an Addison Russell single. After David Ross laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, Nelson walked Tommy La Stella to load the bases. Nelson was lucky the only damage done in that inning would be a game-tying sacrifice fly from Dexter Fowler, but luck was not on his side in the sixth. Kris Bryant reached on an error by the third baseman Hill to lead off the inning, and then, two batters later, Ben Zobrist drew a walk. Russell then hit a go-ahead two-run triple to break it open for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double in the seventh off Blaine Boyer for what would be the game-winning run.

Milwaukee wasn’t done, but it was too little, too late for the offense. Pedro Strop walked Hill to lead off the eighth, then walked Colin Walsh two batters later. Ryan Braun, in a pinch-hit appearance, hit a two-run double to bring the Brewers within one, but that was all they would get.

> Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52 ERA) didn’t factor into the decision, but he was stellar over five innings. He gave up a run on two hits while walking one and striking out four. I have no idea why Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled him so early– he was at just 69 pitches– but the bullpen got it done, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.

> I don’t think there’s any denying that Nelson is the de facto ace of this staff. That’s in part because the Brewers’ other young starters, such as Taylor Jungmann and Wily Peralta, have been unable to step up, but Nelson also probably has the best stuff on the club at the moment, and he can usually harness that stuff.

However, there’s been an alarming trend in four of his five starts this season, one that was also very prominent when he first became a permanent fixture in the rotation in late 2014. Following his first start of the season against the Giants– when he allowed two runs over 7 1/3 innings, arguably his best start to this point– he has struggled to make it past the sixth inning. We first saw this in his start against the Astros, which, don’t get me wrong, was a very good start in which he struck out nine over 6+ innings. Craig Counsell put him back out for the seventh in that start, but he issued a leadoff walk, prompting Counsell to turn to the bullpen. Something similar happened in his third start, which came against the Pirates. He had fired six shutout innings and his pitch count was still low, so it was a no-brainer for Counsell to send him back out for the seventh. Nelson once again walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, but this time Counsell stuck with him because the Brewers had a five-run cushion at the time. The next batter reached on an error, but then Nelson served up a three-run blast to Matt Joyce. That was the end of Nelson’s outing that night, and was a slight cause for concern because it brought back memories of when he first came up.

And even more alarming: it happened again against the Twins in his last start. After cruising through the first five innings having allowed just one run, Nelson gave up two home runs in the sixth, allowing the Twins to tie it. Counsell actually forced him to work through it that time, and he pitched into the seventh inning before being lifted with two outs.

But it happened again tonight. This time started a little earlier than usual, in the fifth inning, but it’s still the same story. The trend has been that he seems to lose his control in the middle innings, which leads to walks, home runs, or both in those innings. This is eerily similar to what would happen to him in his starts in late 2014: he’d mow through lineups for the first six innings and then lose all control in the seventh.

This is common with pitchers who don’t have the greatest of stuff– i.e., they throw maybe in the high 80’s and rely on control and breaking stuff– and a good hitting team can catch on to that and time pitches, especially by the third time through the order; Shaun Marcum was a good example of that sort of pitcher. However, Nelson is not that kind of pitcher. His repertoire is advanced enough to where he can be an ace and should be able to pitch deep into games. It’s clear that he loses command in these innings, so maybe it’s an endurance thing, though he has pitched into and completed eight innings a few times in his career. Another thing that confuses me is that, while Nelson was definitely pretty inconsistent in 2015, the middle innings didn’t seem to be as much of a problem in particular as they were in 2014.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he does from here on out. The good news is he’s been pretty consistent as far as damage control goes and, outside of the middle innings, doesn’t seem to be having many problems this year; the 3.16 ERA is a good indicator of that. However, if this middle innings trend continues, I’d say the Brewers should start getting concerned.

> The Brewers will unfortunately be facing Jake Arrieta (4-0, 0.87 ERA), who is coming off a no-hitter against the Reds, tomorrow. He’s 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA against the Brewers in his career, but I’m guessing that ERA will be going down tomorrow. Milwaukee will counter with Jungmann (0-3, 8.47 ERA), who is off to a terrible start this season. In two career starts against the Cubs, he’s 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA.

 

 


Gindl sends Brewers home after 13

July 22, 2013

RECAP

> So I was sitting in the car with my family today listening to the Brewer game on the radio. Their half of the 13th inning was about to begin, and Bob Uecker said Caleb Gindl was going to lead off the inning. After we were done dissing him and talking about his horrendous play in left field, I said, “What if Gindl hits a walk-off homer?”

And not five seconds after cracking that joke, it somehow became reality. Gindl drove Ryan Webb’s 1-0 offering over the left field fence for a walk-off blast to give the Brewers a win after 13 innings. The Crew now has four straight wins and, granted this series was against the Marlins, has some momentum moving into the rest of the second half.

Sadly, Gindl’s home run didn’t come until five innings after Wily Peralta left the game, and he deserved the win. Peralta fired eight stellar innings while striking out seven. He gave up just two hits and two walks. He’s managed to quickly turn his season around, lowering his ERA from above 6.00 to 4.30 in a matter of a few starts.

Gindl

MY TAKE

> Even though Peralta’s great outing today came against the weak-hitting Marlins who haven’t scored a run since the fourth inning of their last game before the All-Star break, we can’t blame it all on their inability to hit. Peralta has dominated some contending teams lately, such as the Braves, Nationals, Reds, and Diamondbacks. It’s safe to say his comeback is legitimate.

> Normally, I’d hammer Ron Roenicke for yanking Peralta after just 97 pitches through eight innings, but I guess he had good reason to today. Can’t blame him for trying to jumpstart the offense by pinch-hitting with Jonathan Lucroy in the eighth.

> But I will hammer him for continuously refusing to put the best team possible on the field. Today, he held Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Gomez out of the lineup. I sort of understand with Gomez and the slump he’s in, but sitting him for the likes of Gindl isn’t the best idea. (I know Gindl hit the walk-off, but maybe if Gomez and the rest are in the lineup this game ends earlier and Peralta gets the win). I love Martin Maldonado defensively, but his .170 average isn’t going to cut it. And taking Lucroy out of the lineup on a consistent basis when he’s on an absolute tear is unacceptable. Lastly, Braun needs as much playing time as he can get before the inevitable happens, so there’s no reason to hold him out.

THE NEWS

> Lucroy said today that he has first base and the outfield in mind for next year so he can avoid a situation similar to what happened today. I have to wonder if he’s fast enough to play the outfield, but both right and left field could in be in question if Norichika Aoki departs via free agency and if Braun’s suspension bleeds into next year.

> Alfredo Figaro began his rehab today with the Arizona Brewers (R).

> The night before last, Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle for the Astros and they still lost. Last night, starter Erik Bedard didn’t allow a hit for the Astros and they still lost. Ha.

THE STATS

> Gindl was the first player in Brewers history to a hit walk-off home run for his first MLB homer.

> This is the first time the Brewers have thrown three straight shutouts since 1990, which was the only other time the feat was accomplished in franchise history.

> Peralta has a 0.31 ERA over his last four starts.

> Probables for the upcoming series against the Padres:

Andrew Cashner (5-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (1-3, 1.88 ERA)

Tyson Ross (0-4, 3.60 ERA) vs. Donovan Hand (0-1, 3.27 ERA)

??? vs. Kyle Lohse (6-7, 3.49 ERA)

Edinson Volquez (7-8, 5.73 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (8-8, 4.58 ERA)