Brewers clinch winning season

October 2, 2012

POSTGAME

> Despite being eliminated yesterday, the Brewers still had something to play for: a winning season. They were assured that today, defeating the Padres 5-3 for their 82nd win of the year.

Although Shaun Marcum gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher, Clayton Richard, the Brewers backed him with home run balls of their own from Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks.

THE NEWS

> Ron Roenicke said that tomorrow’s starter, Tyler Thornburg, will only go about three or four innings at the most because of how little he’s pitched lately. Thornburg was a September call-up, but the Brewers’ postseason run messed up their plans for him, and he wound up making just two appearances this month.

Thornburg is making what would have been Wily Peralta’s final start of the season, but he was shut down with one start to go due to lingering pain in his left biceps.

THE NUMBERS

> The Brewers now have four winning seasons out of their last six seasons overall. That follows a string of 15 straight seasons without a winning season.

> If Gomez hits one more home run this season, he and Mike Trout will be the only players this season with 20+ home runs and 35+ stolen bases.

> The Brewers need 18 more strikeouts if they want to break the MLB record 1404, set by the 2003 Cubs.

> Keep in mind the Brewers were 12 games under .500 as late as August 19th.

> Weeks’ home run was the Brewers’ 200th of the season.

> Chase Headley has 31 home runs this season, and 23 of them have come since the All-Star break.

> This was the second day in a row the Brewers allowed a home run to the opposing starter (Jordan Lyles yesterday, Richard today).

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Anthony Bass (2-7, 4.50 ERA) vs. Tyler Thornburg (0-0, 5.00 ERA)

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Brewers eliminated on somber note

October 1, 2012

POSTGAME

> The way the Brewers “hit” today, they deserved to be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. You would have never guessed that they would have been even close to contending the way they played today.

They were embarrassingly shut out by Jordan Lyles and the Astros, 7-0. Lyles, who came in 4-12 with a 5.44 ERA, threw his first career shutout, which was a four-hitter. He also hit a solo home run- and it was murdered.

THE NEWS

> Mike Fiers said this was the “best he felt all year.”  I guess I can understand that in one respect, considering he struck out 10. But he also struggled to miss bats, as he gave up four home runs to Lyles, Fernando Martinez, Jed Lowrie, and Matt Dominguez.

Fiers did wind up finishing the season, however. There were rumors of him getting shut down, but it never happened.

> Wily Peralta, on the other hand, was shut down after reporting more discomfort in his biceps. He would have only made one more start anyway, so I’m not going to flip out too much over this.

> Ron Roenicke doesn’t think Zack Greinke will return to the Brewers this offseason.

> Chris Narveson took his first bullpen session since his shoulder surgery.

> Even if the Brewers would have won today, it wouldn’t have mattered much, since the Cardinals also won.

THE NUMBERS

> Corey Hart’s two-homer game yesterday gave him his second career 30-home run season.

> Lyles needed just 103 pitches to kill the Brewers’ offense.

> The upcoming match-ups for the series against the Padres, the Brewers’ final series of the season:

Clayton Richard (14-13, 3.91 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (6-4, 3.74 ERA)

Casey Kelly (2-3, 6.21 ERA) vs. Tyler Thornburg (0-0, 5.00 ERA)

Andrew Werner (2-3, 4.78 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (16-9, 3.65 ERA)

BOX SCORE

> So I was at the game today, and I noticed a strange graphic on the scoreboard. While Carlos Corporan was batting for the Astros, his stats showed that he had 17 home runs and 10 RBIs. Maybe FOX Sports Wisconsin runs the scoreboard, too. (Corporan only has four home runs, by the way.)


Axford blows the season

September 27, 2012

POSTGAME

> Just when we thought John Axford was attempting to earn our trust back, he goes out and does this.

He turned a very pivotal game for the Brewers into a 2-1 loss to the Reds. With a 1-0 lead going into the ninth, Axford seemed to be cruising through the ninth after striking Zack Cozart and Joey Votto. But then the wheels abruptly fell off- Todd Frazier game-tying homer, Jay Bruce single, Dioner Navarro walk-off triple. Game over.

Season over.

MY TAKE

> Yes, you could argue that the Brewers should have scored more runs. But, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting more than one or two runs against Mat Latos. He’s quietly been one of the best pitchers in baseball during the second half; not to mention he’s dominated the Brewers this season.

THE NEWS

> Since I missed the whole game today, I was confused while looking through the box score as to why Wily Peralta only went 5 1/3 innings, despite having just 71 pitches. Turns out he left with tight biceps, and it was Aramis Ramirez who signaled to the dugout that something was wrong.

But Peralta was twirling a gem. He’d given up just two hits up until his departure, and also had a career-high six strikeouts.

>The Cardinals have an off-day today, so it’s already official that the Brewers are four games back.

> The Astros named Bo Porter their new manager. The first team he’ll face as their manager is the Brewers.

THE NUMBERS

> Norichika Aoki has more extra base-hits (18) in September than Miguel Cabrera (15).

> Ryan Braun went 2-for-4, raising his average to .319. But it’s doubtful he’ll catch Buster Posey (.333). That batting average could be the decisive factor on who takes home the NL MVP this year, even though most of the rest of Braun’s stats are relatively better than Posey’s.

> Axford extended his Major League-leading blown save total to nine.

> The probables for the upcoming series against the Astros (and the start of where the schedule flips over):

Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 3.94 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (16-8. 3.59 ERA)

Dallas Keuchel (3-7, 3.66 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (4-7, 3.87 ERA)

Jordan Lyles (4-12, 5.44 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (9-9, 3.55 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> The Marlins are giving Adam Greenberg another chance at a big league at-bat. If you don’t know Greenberg’s story, click here. Pretty cool, if you ask me.


Henderson struggles in 10th as Brewers fall again

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> I guess there’s no getting around these bullpen problems. The Brewers lost to the Astros again today, 6-5, in 10 innings. The Brewers never had a lead in the game, so there wasn’t a save for the bullpen to blow. Up until the 10th inning, it actually wasn’t that bad, but Jim Henderson ran into some control problems in the 10th, which eventually doomed the Brewers.

Henderson had also pitched the ninth, but it seemed to be a breeze, as he had a 1-2-3 inning while striking out the side. But he ran into a wall in the 10th. He gave up a lead-off single to Jose Altuve, then walked back-t0-back batters in Marwin Gonzalez and Steve Pearce. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Brewers were forced to go with five infielders and bring everyone in. So all Scott Moore had to do was drive a single into no-man’s land somewhere in the outfield, and that’s exactly what he did.

Marco Estrada had a pretty rough start that was actually cut short. He went just four innings while giving up four runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Estrada threw just 66 pitches, but was removed in the fifth inning with runners on first and third in place of pinch-hitter Cody Ransom. Ransom struck out (shocker), but Norichika Aoki followed it up with a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.

ADDRESSING THE BULLPEN

> I thought the Brewers were going to win for sure today, since Ron Roenicke didn’t use John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez. Instead, he used almost everyone but, with Livan Hernandez pitching the fifth, Manny Parra the sixth, Kameron Loe the seventh, Jose Veras the eighth, and Henderson tossing the ninth and 1oth (although he didn’t record any outs).

Of course, though, people on Twitter were bashing Henderson for blowing the game, and that isn’t completely fair. Up to this point, Henderson had been lights out, and the only reliable reliever in the Brewers’ bullpen (and I think he still holds that title).

But the game wouldn’t have gone any differently had K-Rod or Axford been used in the 10th, so there’s no use in saying Henderson shouldn’t have been used in the situation. Last night I blamed Roenicke for not using Henderson, and I still do. But there’s not much he could have done tonight.

Anyway, here’s my theory that I’ve been trying to preach the past few days. In games where the Brewers have a three-run or less lead after the seventh inning (in other words, a hold/save situation), they should try Loe in the eighth, and Henderson in the ninth. Those are the two guys I sort of have confidence in at the moment. Loe has been shaky at times this year, but, out of the rest of the relievers, he’s been the best. Loe also has setup experience. He showed that he couldn’t handle the pressure of setting up when the Brewers were contending during the first half of 2011, but now the circumstances are different. Plus, they have no other choices right now, so it couldn’t hurt to try him.

Henderson has obviously proven he can close. He has yet to give up a run or a hit in the ninth inning. In three appearances in the ninth inning, he has six strikeouts and one walk. I have a feeling the 10th inning tonight was a fluke.

I’d love to see Roenicke try this. Hopefully he doesn’t assume Henderson can’t handle the job after his 10th inning tonight.

THE NEWS

> Mark Rogers said he didn’t mind that Moore broke up his no-hit bid in the sixth inning last night.

> Wily Peralta had a very efficient start for the Sounds tonight, going seven innings while giving up on run on six hits. He walked one and struck out six in Sacramento.

THE NUMBERS

> Tonight was the first time the Astros won back-to-back games since late June. Great.

> Carlos Gomez once again went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He might finally be cooling off.

> Jean Segura went 2-for-4 with an RBI for his first multi-hit game in the bigs.

> Jonathan Lucroy went 2-for-3 to bring his average back up to .331. He had a .345 average coming off the disabled list, but slumped down into the .320’s.

> Tomorrow’s pitching match-up:

Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-8 5.69 ERA)


Bats explode to back solid Gallardo

August 1, 2012

> Even if they aren’t contending, the Brewers needed a game like this. They blew out the Astros today, 10-1, and won their second game in a row. Yovani Gallardo got back on track after two sub-par starts against the Reds and Nationals, going seven innings while giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five. He improved to 12-2 in his career against the Astros, which is by far the best mark he has against any National League Central opponent.

The offense was alive today as well. The Brewers got on the board early in the first inning on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single, the first hit of a big day for him. Then, in the bottom of the second, Gallardo attempted to put down a suicide squeeze to score Rickie Weeks from third base, which was successful. But Gallardo wound up beating out the play and was credited with an RBI single.

The only Astros run came in the third inning on a Chris Snyder solo home run. But the Brewers countered immediately in the bottom of the inning on Ramirez’s three-run blast. In the fifth inning, the Brewers tacked on three more on Corey Hart’s three-run homer. That closed the book on Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who struggled mightily in his first career start against the Brewers. He went just four innings while giving up seven runs on seven hits. He walked a whopping six batters and struck out one.

The Brewers added two more in the eighth on Nyjer Morgan’s two-RBI single.

I should also mention that, one day after blowing yet another save and practically blowing the game, the bullpen looked good. Obviously that doesn’t mean mention in a nine-run blowout, but Jim Henderson threw another scoreless inning, and Francisco Rodriguez had his first 1-2-3 inning in…

Let’s just say “a while.”

> I wasn’t even paying attention to this, but, after Ramirez’s 3-for-4 performance today, his average sits at .293. Since his sub-.200 April, Ramirez has hit .322.

And to think the Brewers were tossing around the idea of trading Ramirez and/or Hart. And, even more surprisingly to me, there were some Brewers fans who were in favor of it. Beats me as to why, but this team doesn’t need to go into a total rebuilding mode at the moment. A few offseason signings (which the Brewers will be able to pull off after dumping the rest of  Zack Greinke’s contract), and the Brewers could be contenders again next year.

> Speaking of trades, the Trade Deadline was today at 3:00 PM CT. The Brewers already made their splash with the Greinke trade, but here’s some news from around baseball:

> The Rangers acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. After Dempster pretty much vetoed a deal to the Braves and couldn’t get a deal worked out with the Dodgers, he heads to Texas and will help them try and reach the postseason.

> The Phillies couldn’t decide which side of the rivalry to join, trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, and Hunter Pence to the Giants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pair of trades like that.

> The Cardinals received reliever Edward Mujica from the Marlins. That was about the only move they made, and probably the only move they needed to make.

There were definitely more deals than that, but those are a few of the highlights.

> And that’s about it. Mike Fiers (4-4, 1.77 ERA) tomorrow in the series finale as the Brewers go for a sweep of the struggling ‘Stros. They will counter with Jordan Lyles (2-7, 5.54 ERA).

Anyway, thanks for reading.

 

 

 


Brewers’ bullpen holds serve until extra inning W

July 9, 2012

> I missed most of today’s game, but something rare took place, apparently: the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t give up a run. *gasp*

> The Brewers defeated the Astros today, 5-3, in ten innings. The offense had another relatively slow day, but it was just enough to squeak past the Astros. The Brewers’ bullpen was also stellar, holding the ‘Stros down to give the Brewers a win in their last game before the All-Star break.

Zack Greinke was starting his second consecutive game, and it didn’t go very well. If you recall yesterday, he was ejected in the first inning after four pitches for spiking the ball at the ground. So he was able to come back and start again today, but went just three innings while giving up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Greinke’s bright spot was that he struck out the side in third inning, but other than that, he wasn’t very sharp. Ron Roenicke had already announced prior to the game that Greinke wouldn’t go very deep, and that he wanted to get Marco Estrada, the original scheduled starter, his share of work in.

All of the Astros runs came in the first inning. Jordan Schafer led off the game with a single, and Jose Altuve drove him in with a double. One batter later, J.D. Martinez hit an RBI single. Then, Greinke had a temporary lapse of command. After striking out Jed Lowrie and giving up a single to Chris Johnson, Greinke walked Brian Bogusevic to load the bases, then served up a bases-loaded walk to Chris Snyder. He struck out the pitcher, Jordan Lyles, to end the inning, but the damage had been done, and it was obvious Greinke was still shaken up about yesterday.

The Brewers answered in the second inning on Rickie Weeks’ solo home run, but didn’t score again until Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single in the sixth.

The next threat came in the eighth inning. Astros reliever Wesley Wright walked Norichika Aoki to start the inning. After Nyjer Morgan moved him over with a sacrifice bunt, Ryan Braun once again came through in the clutch and hit a game-tying RBI single. Braun then stole both second and third base, but Corey Hart killed the rally.

Neither squad scored in the ninth, so the game was sent to extras, which has been quite the theme for the Brewers this year. The Astros put in struggling reliever Fernando Rodriguez for the tenth, and he walked Morgan to start the inning. Morgan then stole second, which prompted the Astros to intentionally walk Braun. Then, with Ramirez batting, Rodriguez threw a wild pitch (apparently the last name Rodriguez automatically makes you an erratic reliever), and both runners advanced. So Rodriguez was gifted with another open base, and naturally walked Ramirez. Hart then made up for his rally-kill in the eighth by hitting a go-ahead RBI single. Weeks followed that up with another RBI single. Unfortunately, Rodriguez found his stuff and struck out the side from there, preventing the Brewers from putting up a big inning.

John Axford was on for the save in the bottom of the inning, and we all know how he’s pitched lately. It looked like we were in for another blown save when he gave up back-to-back singles to Snyder and Matt Dominguez. But, after Schafer moved both runners on a sacrifice bunt, Ax came back to strike out Altuve and Scott Moore to end the game and earn hi 15th save of the year.

> As I’ve kept saying, the Brewers bullpen was outstanding today. Until Axford gave up the singles in the tenth, the Astros hadn’t gotten a hit since the second inning when Greinke was still in. Estrada did indeed get his work in, tossing three near perfect innings, blemished by one walk while striking out three. Jose Veras, Francisco Rodriguez, and Manny Parra each threw perfect innings of their own as well.

I’m not going to get too excited about this, because it is the Astros. But this is a good sign and should be a confidence-builder for the Brewers’ struggling bullpen.

> Don’t look now, Jayson Stark, but Weeks is legitimately starting to get hot. He went 3-for-5 today with two RBIs, yet his average is still at an excruciating .199. Guess he’ll have to wait until after the All-Star break to bring it over the .200 barrier.

> Greinke already sort of made history today, being just the second pitcher this season to start consecutive games (C.J. Wilson of the Angels being the other). But now he’s got a chance to do something a pitcher hasn’t done since 1917: start three start games. Greinke is scheduled to start the first game after the All-Star break (which has been changed to four days this year), and that would count as three consecutive.

If he only he were starting the All-Star Game too.

> And that’s about it. After the ASG, the Brewers face a crucial stretch of division opponents in the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds. This could decide the fate of their season, and whether or not they can get back in contention. Let’s hope for the best.

> Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Astros rotation should flop again

January 19, 2012

Note- This is the first of a new series I’m doing where I’ll be reviewing all of the rotations in the NL Central for 2012. If you’re looking for news, then scroll down- it’ll posted afterwards.

> We all know that the Astros just plain sucked in 2011. They were an MLB-worst 56-106, and finished a whopping 40 games out of first place to the Brewers in the NL Central.

While it didn’t help that they traded away their only position players who were worth something- Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn- at the All-Star Break, their pitching was one of the primary causes for their awful season. The starting rotation was nothing special, but their bullpen was worse. Every time their starter had tossed a solid outing and Brad Mills handed it off to the bullpen, you just knew they were going to blow it some way or another.

Anyway, I’m going to review their starting rotation now, and put them in order of how I think the rotation should go in 2012, along with their 2011 stats.

#1 starter- Bud Norris- 6-11, 3.77 ERA

Norris, in my opinion, is an elite pitcher just waiting to break out. He goes unnoticed because he’s on the Astros, but this kid has one of the nastiest sliders in the MLB. Since he’s a right-handed pitcher, that slider is near impossible for righties to hit, but it makes Norris vulnerable against lefties.

I consider him a strikeout pitcher. In 2011, he struck out 176 batters in 186 innings, with an 8.7 K/9 ratio. That was slightly down from his 9.3 K/9 in 2010, but his overall numbers were much better than 2010. But, he can’t let that strikeout rate drop anymore.

Anyway, Norris now has two full MLB seasons under his belt, which should set him up for nice year next year. But, his win-loss record might not show it, because I have a feeling he’s not going to get any run support.

#2 starter- Wandy Rodriguez- 11-11, 3.49 ERA

In 2011, Rodriguez was probably the Astros’ most consistent starter. Again, his record doesn’t show it (but no Astros’ starter record shows anything other than lack of run support), though. But, he’s already 33, and it’s rumored that the Astros might be shopping him to get rid of his large contract, so he may not be around too much longer.

I guess I haven’t seen Rodriguez pitch enough to determine what kind of pitcher he is, but, judging by the amount of home runs he gives up (25 in 2011), I’d assume he’s a fly-ball pitcher. But, he’s K/9 rate isn’t bad, as it was 7.8 in 2011. His K/9 rate has steadily fell over the past few years, though, which could show a possible decline.

Overall, I think Rodriguez still has a few good years left in him. They probably won’t all be with the Astros, though.

#3 starter- Brett Myers- 7-14, 4.46 ERA

After I did my best to praise the first two starters, I might not be able to do so with the next two. Myers had a great year in 2010, going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA, and earning him the #1 spot in the rotation. But, he followed it up with an awful 2011, as seen by the basic numbers. He also became nearly a complete off-speed pitcher, with more than 50% of his pitches being change ups and curveballs, rather than fastballs.

Myers gives up enough home runs, as he gave up 31 in 2011. He’s pretty much a fly-ball pitcher, and his K/9 is just 6.7. He also gives up a lot of hits, giving up 9.4 per nine innings.

So I don’t think Myers has much left in him. But he’s on the trade block as well, so he may not be on the Astros for much longer either.

#4 starter- J.A. Happ- 6-15, 5.35 ERA

Happ just had a flat-out bad season. I used to think he had talent, but, after last year, I don’t know anymore. There was a stretch of eight starts in which he gave up at least four runs in each of them, which explains his high ERA. And, even when he did have solid starts, guess what he didn’t get? That’s right- run support.

Happ’s  K/9 in 2011 was 7.7, and he gave up 21 home runs. I guess I don’t really know what kind of pitcher he is, but, whatever kind he is, he needs to get better at it.

I think Happ will bounce back in 2012, but not by much.

#5 starter- Jordan Lyles- 2-8, 5.36 ERA

Lyles was called up during the year to give him a taste of the big leagues, and I think he has potential. He has an extremely relaxed pitching motion, which usually means good things for a pitcher. I still haven’t seen enough of him, but I’m guessing he’ll break the rotation next year.

And that’s my review of all of them. There are a few more Astros starters who could break the rotation, like Kyle Weiland, but I think these are the five who have the best shot.

Overall, I think the Astros rotation will, like the rest of the team, once again flop in 2012. Aside from Norris, I don’t see much coming from them next season.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for another review- I’m thinking I’ll do the Cubs.

> Today, I heard that earlier this week Tony La Russa said at some lunch circuit thing that he did tell Jason Motte to intentionally hit Ryan Braun in the wild game in August.

That’s so typical of him, though. He lied and flipped out at the reporters after that game. So, after he retires, he comes out and tells the truth when he’s untouchable.

Needless to say I’m happy that prick retired. I’ve had it with his crap; I don’t care if he’s a HOF manager- he certainly doesn’t have the personality of one.

> And that’s about it. Sorry for calling TLR a “prick,” I don’t usually use language like that on BW. But trust me, I could have called him something much worse…

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.