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.


Nelson stars on mound, at plate vs. Angels

May 3, 2016

RECAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

STATS

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

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

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

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

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

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


Davies can’t contain Franco, Phils

April 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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