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.

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Brewers lose heartbreaker in 13 after Nelson’s stellar start

May 19, 2016

RECAP

> If this season turns out as bad as everyone thinks it’s going to, this game will be remembered as one of its defining moments.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs 2-1 in 13 innings on Wednesday night. They wasted another stellar start from Jimmy Nelson (4-3, 3.07 ERA), just as they did in his last start against the Padres. But what made this game most painful was all of the opportunities the Brewers had to end it in extra innings, and the way they served up the go-ahead run: Carlos Torres walked Travis Wood– a reliever— with the bases loaded.

The game started as a pitchers’ duel between Nelson and John Lackey (4-2, 3.31 ERA), who pretty much matched each other pitch for pitch. Lackey was the first to crack when Alex Presley drove in the first run of the game with a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning. It appeared that was all Nelson was going to need, as he weaved in and out of trouble all throughout his 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Nelson gave up five hits, walked four, and struck out five, but was lifted in the eighth after Jorge Soler singled and Dexter Fowler drew a walk, putting runners on first and third with one out. Tyler Thornburg put out the fire, however, inducing a Jason Heyward pop-up and striking out Kris Bryant with a curveball in the dirt.

Things looked good heading into the top of the ninth, as Jeremy Jeffress, 11-for-11 in save chances entering play Wednesday, came in to close it out. However, it was not Jeffress’s night, as he drilled Anthony Rizzo to start the inning and then gave up a single to Ben Zobrist. Tommy La Stella followed by grounding out to put runners on second and third with one out. Then, for whatever reason, Craig Counsell moved his infield back, eliminating any chance of an out at home on a ground ball. And sure enough, the next batter, Addison Russell, hit a grounder to second baseman Scooter Gennett that would have been a potential out at home had the infield been in, but instead tied the game at 1-1.

That sent the game spiraling into extra innings. The Brewers had their chances, but didn’t capitalize, so I guess the fate they received was deserved. In the top of the thirteenth, the Cubs had runners on first and second with one out against Torres. He rallied to strike out Russell, and then intentionally walked Miguel Montero to get to the pitcher Wood, as Chicago had no bench players left. After getting ahead 0-1, Torres threw four consecutive balls to Wood, walking in the go-ahead run. Milwaukee has had some embarrassing moments over the years, but this was a new level of bad.

> The Brewers had multiple opportunities to end this game, but failed every time. In the bottom of the tenth, they had runners on first and third with two outs, but pinch-hitter Ramon Flores struck out looking to end the threat.

The worst came in the bottom of the twelfth, when Milwaukee had Hector Rondon, usually the Cubs’ closer, on the ropes. Chris Carter reached on an error by the third baseman La Stella to start the inning, and then Rondon and Wood, who came on in relief, issued back-to-back walks to Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Domingo Santana. Wood induced a Hernan Perez fly out to center field that was deep enough to score Carter from third for the first out, and then got back-to-back pop-ups from Aaron Hill and Martin Maldonado to escape. After that mess, they did not deserve to win; you can’t give a team like the Cubs extra chances.

Milwaukee did get one more chance to come back in the bottom of the thirteenth, as Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a double. However, Joe Maddon used three different relievers– Wood, Neil Ramirez, and Clayton Richard– to record one out each and put the Brewers away.

NEWS

> Ryan Braun had the night off to rest a “stiff back.”

> Left-handed reliever Sean Nolin appears set to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Brewers had claimed Nolin off waivers from Oakland in February.

> The Brewers will look to take the series from the Cubs today in a day game. Junior Guerra (2-0, 4.00 ERA) will go for the Crew against Jason Hammel (5-0, 1.77 ERA).


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.


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)

 


Carter blasts Brewers past Angels

May 4, 2016

RECAP

> If this first month of baseball is any indication, Chris Carter is going to be a fun player to watch at Miller Park this summer.

The Brewers rode two moonshots from Carter, as well as Jonathan Lucroy’s first home run of the season, to a 5-4 comeback win over the Angels. Similar to last night, Angels starter Nick Tropeano (1-1, 3.42 ERA) held down the Crew for the most part through the first couple of innings before the bats came alive in the middle innings.

The Angels jumped on Brewers starter Junior Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA), who was making his first big league start, early, as Albert Pujols hit an RBI single in the first inning. They scored three more in the third on Rafael Ortega’s RBI single and a two-run single from Mike Trout to put Milwaukee down 4-0 early.

Carter cut that deficit in half in the third inning with a 439-foot two-run bomb off the scoreboard following a two-out single from Lucroy. Then, in the fifth inning, Tropeano issued a one-out walk to Jonathan Villar, setting the stage for Lucroy’s game-tying two-run blast. The next batter, Carter, went back-to-back, sending his second moonshot of the game– this time 431 feet– to deep left field to give the Brewers a one-run lead.

The bullpen was stellar in holding that lead. Despite allowing a hit and walking two batters, Michael Blazek threw a scoreless seventh inning. Tyler Thornburg did the same in the eighth, and then Jeremy Jeffress had a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the year.

> He looked shaky early on, but Guerra settled down in the middle innings and earned his first career win. He went six innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. Guerra walked one and struck out three. Despite the fact Angels hitter barreled him up a few times, Guerra flashed a mid-90’s fastball as well as a good splitter, which is considered to be his best pitch. If he can manage to control damage the way he did tonight, he could remain in the rotation until Matt Garza returns from the disabled list. And who knows, maybe he could stay even after Garza comes back, as damage control is something more than half of the Brewers’ rotation have been unable accomplish this season.

> Guerra’s mound opponent, Tropeano, hung a few pitches at the wrong time, and the Brewers’ offense– Carter in particular– made him pay. He went five innings while giving up five runs on five hits. Tropeano walked five and struck out six.

NEWS

> With the bombs the Brewers were sending into the seats today, it was easy to forget that Ryan Braun had the day off. Craig Counsell said it was part “maintenance,” part reaction to a number of “aches and pains,” and part of the bigger picture in trying to keep Braun healthy following his offseason back surgery.

Counsell declined to comment any further on the “aches and pains” he mentioned, but hopefully it’s nothing serious. Braun has shown a huge return to form early this season following the back surgery, as he’s in the top 10 in the National League in batting average (.372), OPS (1.048), and RBIs (21).

STATS

> It took Lucroy until a few days into May to hit his first home run of the season. Some have been criticizing his lack of power recently, but he’s really never been a full-on power hitter; his career-high is 18, which he set in 2013. In fact, he only hit 13 during his MVP-caliber 2014 season, but he also slugged a league-leading 53 doubles to make up for it.

But I don’t think we’re in any place to complain about Lucroy’s production at the moment, because he’s actually been a key part of the lineup this season. Coming into today’s game, he was hitting .309, and raised that to .321 after going 2-for-3 today. It’s encouraging to see him hitting consistently after a bit of a down year in 2015 (that still wasn’t terrible; he hit .264), but he’s shown that his lack of production can be attributed to injuries– including the early-season concussion– that plagued him all year.

> Carter had a combined 870 feet of home run distance today.

> The Brewers will go for a series sweep with Zach Davies (0-3, 8.78 ERA) on the hill. Davies will hope to break the inconsistencies that have plagued all Milwaukee starters not named Jimmy Nelson this season and have a decent outing. He’ll be countered by left-hander Hector Santiago (2-1, 3.34 ERA), who I’m pretty sure is currently the only pitcher in the Majors who throws a screwball. First pitch is at 12:40 p.m. CT.