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.


Peralta’s decent start spoiled by Conforto

May 21, 2016

RECAP

> It wasn’t great, but it was a step in the right direction for the struggling Wily Peralta. Unfortunately, he gave up a key hit at the wrong time that cost him a potential win in the Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Mets on Friday night. Milwaukee ran into lefty Steven Matz (6-1, 2.81 ERA), one of the hottest pitchers in baseball at the moment, and couldn’t do much to back Peralta (2-5, 6.99 ERA).

The Brewers did jump on him in the first inning, as Chris Carter slugged his thirteenth home run of the year, a two-run shot to right center. That would be all for the offense, however. Matz dominated the rest of the way, throwing seven innings of two-run ball while giving up just three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight.

Peralta managed to hold the lead for a while, but his 2016 struggles once again showed up in the middle innings. He bent but didn’t break in the second when he gave up an RBI groundout to Rene Rivera. The Mets ambushed him in the sixth, however, as after Asdrubal Cabrera led off the inning with a single, Michael Conforto hit a go-ahead, opposite field two-run homer.

> Honestly, this was looking like Peralta’s best start of the season until Conforto gave the Mets the lead. He ended up not making it through the sixth, finishing at 5 2/3 innings while giving up three runs on six hits. Peralta walked two and struck out a season-high six. It was encouraging to see him making effective use of his heavy sinking fastball, as he’s still struggling to find his slider in 2016 (though he did throw a few good ones tonight).

Unfortunately for Peralta, this might not be enough to keep him in the rotation when Matt Garza returns. With the rest of the rotation’s pitching headed in the right direction as of late, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Peralta getting the boot when the time comes.

NEWS

> Domingo Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list today with right shoulder soreness. Santana’s ailing shoulder has kept him out of the lineup multiple times over the past few weeks and, according to Craig Counsell, he hasn’t been making much progress.

In a corresponding move, the Brewers recalled outfielder Keon Broxton from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Broxton was Milwaukee’s opening day center fielder in 2016, but he was quickly optioned after going 0-for-16 with 11 strikeouts in his first stint in the Majors. In 25 games at Triple-A, however, Broxton hit .301 with seven home runs, 18 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases. The potential is obviously there, so hopefully he can figure it out at the big league level this time around.

> Ryan Braun was absent from the lineup once again today, likely because of the stiff back that held him from each of the two games prior. Counsell said he could return to the lineup this weekend against the Mets, but if that doesn’t happen, a trip to the 15-day DL could be in order.

With Santana on the DL and Braun shelved indefinitely at the moment, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Alex Presley will likely both see even more playing time in the coming days. Broxton and Ramon Flores will receive an increase as well.

> Nieuwenhuis and Carlos Torres, each of whom were members of the Mets at some point last season, received their 2015 National League championship rings upon returning to Citi Field.

> The Yankees signed ex-Brewer reliever Neal Cotts to a minor league deal today. The Brewers could have used him this season with their lack of reliable left-handed relief until Will Smith returns.

> The Rays released catcher Carlos Corporan, another former Brewer.

STATS

> Broxton went 0-for-2 in his first big league start since being demoted on April 16, extending his hitless streak to 0-for-18 to start his big league career.

> Chris Capuano, who pitched for the Mets in 2011, struck out five batters in two hitless innings of relief.

> Matz won his sixth consecutive start. Since getting lit up by the Marlins in his season debut, Matz is 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

> The Brewers will look to even up this three-game series tomorrow at 3:10 p.m. CT, but will have to face the ace of the Mets’ aces in Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.50 ERA). Milwaukee will counter with Zach Davies (1-3, 5.58 ERA), who is coming off his best start of the season in which he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Padres.

In four career starts against the Brewers, deGrom has been dominant, going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA. Davies has never faced the Mets.


Homers from Carter, Nieu back Guerra’s 11 K’s

May 20, 2016

RECAP

> The Brewers needed a win like this after last night’s 13-inning disaster. They came back and took down the Cubs 5-3 on Thursday afternoon thanks to another great pitching performance and some timely hitting. Junior Guerra (3-0, 3.96 ERA) continued to prove that he has earned a rotation spot and won’t be going anywhere when Matt Garza returns; Guerra threw seven innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out a career-high 11 while holding down one of the league’s best offenses.

The Cubs got on the board immediately when Dexter Fowler hit a home run to lead off the game. Miguel Montero hit an RBI single in the second inning to give the Cubs an early 2-0 cushion. Milwaukee got one of those back in the bottom of the second when Kirk Nieuwenhuis scored on a wild pitch by Chicago starter Jason Hammel (5-1, 2.31 ERA).

Chris Carter tied it at 2-2 in the fourth, breaking out of his slump with his twelfth home run of the season. The Brewers took the lead for good on Nieuwenhuis’s two-run shot in the sixth inning. The Cubs got one more in the seventh when Fowler scored on a wild pitch by Guerra, but Milwaukee added an insurance run in the eighth thanks to Hernan Perez’s RBI single.

The bullpen was a little shaky, which brought back bad memories of Wednesday night, but in the end managed to finish the game. Michael Blazek worked around a walk and a hit in a scoreless eighth; he also struck out two. Tyler Thornburg issued back-to-back walks to Addison Russell and Montero to start the ninth, but rebounded and recorded the save.

> It was nice to see the Brewers beat up on Hammel a little bit, as the sinkerballer has typically had his way with the Crew in his career. Coming into today, Hammel boasted an 8-0 record against the Brewers with a 2.37 ERA, making this the first time he’s lost to them.

Not only that, but Hammel has also been especially good for the Cubs this season, bringing a 5-0 record with a 1.77 ERA into today’s start. He hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start yet this season, but that changed today, as he allowed four on five hits in six innings. Hammel walked two and struck out seven.

NEWS

> Ryan Braun was held out of the lineup again today due to the stiff back that kept him out of the lineup last night. It’s unrelated to the wrist issue that made him miss back-to-back games this past weekend, but is a cause for concern, as Braun had back surgery this past offseason.

> Despite the struggles of bench players Ramon Flores and Colin Walsh, Craig Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt that the Brewers aren’t giving up on them anytime soon. Flores is out of options while Walsh was a Rule 5 pick this past offseason, so the Brewers likely won’t be able to hang onto either in the minors should they choose to shed them from the big league club.

Flores, a left-handed hitting outfielder, has struggled to a .197 average in 87 plate appearances in 2016. The infielder Walsh, also a left-handed hitter, has been even worse, as he carries a meager .089 average over 60 plate appearances, although he does have a .317 on-base percentage. However, Flores would have to clear waivers if the Brewers designate him for assignment and attempt to send him down, and Walsh would return to the Athletics should the Brewers opt to get rid of him.

STATS

> Today was Thornburg’s first career big league save. It was just the second in his entire professional career, with the first coming when he was in rookie ball back in 2010.

Thornburg was tasked with the ninth due to Jeremy Jeffress having been used in four straight games; that may explain Jeffress’s blown save last night.

> The Brewers lead the Majors in taking called third strikes. It’s noticeable that they’ve been more patient this year, but they definitely need to be more aggressive in some situations, and this is proof of that.

> After managing to hold a respectable batting average for a time, Carter has come crumbling back to earth. He’s down to .245, mainly because of an 0-for-23 spell that he snapped this past Sunday. He’s also striking out noticeably more often, with 23 in his last 15 games; Carter is hitting just .179 over that stretch.

> Milwaukee’s pitching staff held the Cubs– who still own the best record in baseball despite losing two of three to the Crew– to just seven runs in this three-game series.

> Ex-Brewer Khris Davis, now playing for Oakland, had a three-dinger game the other night, including a walk-off grand slam off Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson.

I’m happy Davis is catching on with the A’s. As much as I would have liked for the Brewers to keep him, he simply isn’t a National League player, as he might have the weakest outfield arm in the Majors. The Athletics appear to have caught onto that; after a few outfield starts early in the season, they’re using him primarily at designated hitter, which is where Davis belongs.

> White Sox starter Chris Sale made Major League history today, becoming the first pitcher to start a season 9-0 while maintaining a sub-2.00 ERA; with a complete-game win over the Astros today, the lefty’s ERA fell to a minuscule 1.58. Sale has been known as one of the game’s most dominant pitchers ever since his first full season as a starter in 2012, but he seems to have taken it to yet another level in 2016.

The best part about this is, despite the fact Sale is considered to be the Sox’s ace, he doesn’t even have the lowest ERA in Chicago’s rotation. Left-hander Jose Quintana– undoubtedly one of the, if not the, most underrated pitchers in baseball over the past few years– is the White Sox’s ERA leader at 1.54

> The Brewers start a three-gamer at Citi Field tomorrow night at 6:10 p.m. CT. Wily Peralta (2-4, 7.30 ERA), possibly the worst pitcher in baseball at the moment, will go for the Brewers, while the Mets counter with left-hander Steven Matz (5-1, 2.86 ERA). The good news is Peralta is 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in his career against the Mets, but the bad news is those stats probably don’t matter with the funk Peralta is in. Matz has never faced the Brewers.

More bad news: the Brewers will have to face the core of New York’s rotation in Matz, Jacob deGrom (3-1, 2.50 ERA), and Noah Syndergaard (4-2, 2.19 ERA).