Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays

NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.

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Braun beats out Kemp for NL MVP

November 23, 2011

> And Ryan Braun wins the NL MVP. Let the debating begin.

> Braun beat the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp for the award, which has already caused a lot of debate. Most of it is that people think the only reason Braun won is because he played for a contending team. Which was part of it, and I’m not saying I disagree with it, as I said in my post last night. “Best player” and “most valuable player” don’t always mean the same thing.

> Anyway, I’m not going to talk much about the whole debate thing right now, but more about Braun’s numbers and why he was so deserving of this award.

> Braun is the first Brewer to win the MVP since Robin Yount won it in 1989. Yount is arguably the greatest player in Brewers history, so Braun has come along away and is joining some elite company.

Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes, which totals 388 points. Kemp came in second with 10 first-place votes (332), Prince Fielder in third with one first-place vote (229) and Justin Upton in fourth also with one first-place vote (214). Albert Pujols came in fifth with 166 points, but the highest vote he received was one third-place vote.

In 2011, Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs- definitely a MVP-caliber season. Kemp hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs. By looking at those numbers, you’d probably wonder why Kemp didn’t win instead.

But what I think separated Braun from Kemp was simply how often Braun came through in the clutch- yes, this is something that effects the voting. Braun coming through in the clutch is what drove the Brewers to the postseason. Kemp didn’t exactly come through in the clutch very often (but he played for the Dodgers, which explains why).

But what I’m saying is that the voting goes beyond the numbers.

> MLB and the players’ union came to an agreement on a five-year labor deal (imagine how jealous the NBA must be right now). Of course, this garnered about as much buzz- if not more- as Braun winning the MVP.

Anyway, it’s good to know that we won’t be seeing another baseball strike anytime soon.

> Jim Crane and his group officially took over the Astros today. They’ve agreed to move the Astros to the AL as early as 2013, as we heard a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Drayton McLane wonders how he sold the worst team in the MLB for $610 million.

> Anyway, I’m kind of short on time right now, so that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


A few predictions for the MLB awards…

November 6, 2011

> It’s been an extremely slow day for me in nearly every aspect. Close to no new baseball news, BreakingWI not getting any views (but I’m pretty used to that by now), and just not much to do. This is why I hate when baseball season ends.

> Anyhow, before I get into my main topic, here’s the Hot Stove news from this slow day:

> It appears Dan Duquette is close to becoming the Orioles’ GM. I talked last night about how it seemed like nobody wanted to fill the O’s GM vacancy, but, sure enough, someone takes it after I say that.

Anyway, Duquette has prior experience as a general manager with the Expos (1991-1994) and the Red Sox (1994-2002). Apparently he’s known for attracting fans to both of those teams during his time with them, but I don’t know how that will translate in Baltimore, who haven’t experienced as much as a winning season since 1997.

But I would like to see someone get that team turned around sometime in the near future. I, along with every other true baseball fan, am sick of the Sox and Yankees dominating the AL East due to high payrolls. But that’s what the Rays are there for, I guess…

> The Cubs managerial search is starting with Pete Mackanin, who has already met with the Red Sox as well. Mackanin serving as the Phillies hitting coach right now, but sounds open to leave for a managerial job. Anyway, the Cubs are also going to talk to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux- the Brewers’ old pitching coach.

So that’s really all the Hot Stove news for the day. As I said earlier, it’s been a slow and rather boring day…

> Because I really have nothing else to write about, I’ve decided to show you guys my predictions for who’s going to win each award, and the reason why I want them to win. So, I’ll start with the MVPs from each league.

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers

That’s a given. If you’re a Brewers fan, odds are you want Braun or Prince Fielder to win. And either of them would be deserving- Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs, while Fielder hit .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs. But, if I had to choose between these two, I’d go with Braun, just because he’s the overall better player. Braun is a true five-tool player- he can hit for average and power, he’s fast, he can play defense (most of the time), and has a great arm. Oh, and he had a 30/30 season. Fielder, on the other hand, is what I would call a one-tool player- he hits for power, and that’s about it. He looked like an idiot defensively this year, can’t run, and, despite the fact he hit .299, he doesn’t normally hit for that high of an average. So, say what you like, but I think Braun is better, and I’m glad we have him signed through 2020 instead of Fielder (if I had to choose between which one I wanted signed that long).

I know there are people out there who want Matt Kemp of the Dodgers to win. And that’s a legitimate argument- he hit .324 with 39 homers and 41 steals, one homer away from the near-impossible 40/40 season. But, he plays for the Dodgers, which is going to not help him in the voting.

Anyway, that’s why Braun is my choice. Aside from Fielder and Kemp, his other competition is going to be Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks, but there’s nearly no chance of him winning.

AL MVP: Justin Verlander, Tigers

Yes- I’m choosing a pitcher as the MVP. But, so are many others, and it’s tough to argue with. Verlander had a career year, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA. He also had 250 strikeouts, which won him the AL Triple Crown (an award given for leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts).

Another reason Verlander is a legitimate choice for MVP is that the Tigers would have been nowhere without him, and I mean nowhere. Try imagining their rotation without Verlander- Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, and Phil Coke. I didn’t even put Doug Fister in there because, with that rotation, they wouldn’t have even been in contention at the Trade Deadline, and wouldn’t have acquired him.

A few other contenders for the MVP in the AL are Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Curtis Granderson (Yankees), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays). All of those guys had great seasons, but did any of them help their team as much as Verlander helped the Tigers?

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Like Verlander in the AL, Kershaw won the NL Triple Crown, as he went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, along with 248 strikeouts. If you think that’s remarkable, add this to those stats- he’s only 23 years old.

And, he played for the Dodgers, who, other than Kemp, give close to no run support, so getting 21 wins with a team like that isn’t easy. But he was just one of those guys who, also like Verlander, appeared to be an automatic win every time he took the mound.

Some other competition for the NL CYA are Ian Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Roy Halladay (Phillies), and Cliff Lee (Phillies).

AL Cy Young Award: Verlander

I already explained what I could about Verlander in the AL MVP section, and winning the MVP as a pitcher pretty much locks up winning the CYA as well.

Jered Weaver (Angels), CC Sabathia (Yankees), C.J. Wilson (Rangers), and Ricky Romero (Blue Jays) are, in my opinion, Verlander’s best competition for the CYA.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Braves

Kimbrel had a remarkable season in his first full year in the Majors, and had big shoes to fill, future Hall of Famer closer (at least in my opinion) Billy Wagner had just retired. But, Kimbrel put those expectation aside and broke the rookie saves record with 46. Yes, Neftali Feliz held it for all of one year.

Anyway, despite the fact he technically ended up costing the Braves their playoff chances, he still had a great season.

A few other good rookies in the NL were Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks).

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

While Hellickson didn’t get much run support, as his 13-10 record shows, he still put up a 2.95 ERA and 189 innings pitched, both of which led rookie starting pitchers in the MLB. Not to mention he pitches in the AL East, arguably the toughest division to pitch in, and to put up those numbers as a rookie in that division is incredible.

Michael Pineda (Mariners), Eric Hosmer (Royals), and Mark Trumbo (Angels) are probably the best competition for the AL ROY.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

In his first full season as D-backs manager, Gibson completely turned this team around from an awful 2010 season in which his team won only 67 games. After a slow start, the stayed hot the rest of the season and beat out the 2010 World Champion Giants for the NL West division title. Of course, they would lose to the Brewers in the NLDS, but the fact that the even made the postseason this year was remarkable.

Ron Roenicke (Brewers) and Tony La Russa (Cardinals) both probably have a better chance at winning than Gibson, but I still think Gibson is deserving.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Rays

With a week left in the season, it didn’t look like the Rays would be going to the postseason. But, Maddon, who is arguably the most motivational manager out there, kept driving his team on, and the eventually passed the Red Sox for a playoff berth on the last day of the season.

Other candidates in the AL include Ron Washington (Rangers) and Jim Leyland (Tigers).

> Anyway, those are all of my predictions. Feel free to leave a comment saying if you agree or disagree with them (or you can post your own). These are purely from my opinion, and I don’t expect a couple of them to win. But I think they’re all deserving.


Braun, Fielder take home Silver Slugger Awards

November 3, 2011

The Brewers don’t have good defense. That’s why nobody on the Brewers received any of the Gold Glove Awards that were handed out yesterday.

But you can’t argue with the fact that- despite its inconsistency- the Brewers have a rather destructive offense. So, it was fitting that a few Brewers took home the offense-related awards that were handed out today.

Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder both won the 2011 Silver Slugger Award at their respective positions: outfield and first base. It’s the second straight season that they had multiple winners, as Braun also won last year, along with pitcher Yovani Gallardo.

Braun had a career year in multiple categories. He hit 33 home runs with 111 RBIs, and also had a .332 batting average- a new career best for him, and second in the NL in 2011. Braun also led the NL in OPS at .994, and led in slugging percentage at .597. Not to mention this is Braun’s fourth year in a row winning the Silver Slugger Award.

This was Fielder’s second Silver Slugger Award, as he also won in 2007. Fielder winning it this year broke Albert Pujols’ three-year streak of winning the award at first base. Anyway, Fielder hit 38 home runs with a 120 RBIs. He also hit .299, which tied a career-high.

Both of these guys definitely deserved it. I know there are people out there arguing that Pujols or Joey Votto should have won at first base, but Pujols’ injury dampened his chance at winning for the fourth straight year, while Votto just didn’t have as good of a year as Fielder. Anyway, here are all of the winners at each position in the AL and NL:

American League

Catcher: Alex Avila, Tigers

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Curtis Granderson, Yankees; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann, Braves

First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

Pitcher: Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks

I think most of these guys were deserving of winning it.

Anyway, before I go, here’s all the Hot Stove news from today:

Cubs manager Mike Quade finally got fired. Newly appointed president of the Cubs, Theo Epstein, flew to Florida to tell Quade personally that he wouldn’t be returning to the Cubs in 2012. In Quade’s only full season with the Cubs, he went 71-91, which obviously wasn’t going to cut it.

Anyway, I guess I didn’t expect this, but it doesn’t appear that Epstein is going to do much screwing around while he’s the president of the Cubs. He wasted no time firing Quade, so we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll make any other surprising moves. (Actually, the Quade move wasn’t very surprising. Never mind.)

Oh, and one more thing related to the Cubs and Epstein- the Cubs and Red Sox still haven’t agreed on compensation for Epstein leaving the Sox with time still left on his contract. At first, the Sox wanted Matt Garza from the Cubs, which was just plain stupid. But now I guess they can’t even agree on a Minor Leaguer.

Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers today. Apparently, the team is going to be auctioned off.

But it’s about time. I’m not big into the Dodgers, but those fans- and the players themselves- have had to suffer enough under that dink McCourt. A baseball team shouldn’t have to suffer because of the owner’s personal issues (if you didn’t know already, this all started when McCourt and his wife- who was the president of the Dodgers- got divorced).

Anyway, a few other moves- the Nationals are close to re-signing starter Chien-Ming Wang, who has missed the better of the last two years with injuries. Also, John McDonald, a great defensive shortstop, re-signed for two years with Diamondbacks.


Greatest moment since 1982…

October 8, 2011

At the beginning of the season, every sports magazine predicted a Red Sox-Phillies World Series. The moment I saw that, I counted them both out. And I guess I was right- neither of them even made it out of the NLDS. What a bunch of busts.

Anyway, let’s move on from the busts. The Milwaukee Brewers are going to the NLCS for the first time since 1982, and it’s going to be eerily similar to 1982. The Cardinals, who just finished off the Phillies’ season, will oppose the Brewers. Where have we heard that before? Oh, just the 1982 World Series. Obviously, it’s impossible for them to face off in the World Series, since they’re in the same league, but this is as about as close as it gets.

Before I get into the Cards-Brewers NLCS, let’s recap this crazy Brewers-Diamondbacks game first. It was a rematch of Game 1- Yovani Gallardo vs. Ian Kennedy- and both had decent starts. Gallardo needed 112 pitches for just six innings, but gave up just one run, nonetheless. That one run was a Justin Upton homer.

Anyway, it was a 2-1 game going into the ninth, and John Axford, owner of 44 consecutive saves, was in to finish it off, and clinch the Brewers’ first CS appearance since 1982. But not so fast- the Snakes weren’t going down that easily. Gerardo Parra led off the ninth with a double, and Sean Burroughs followed with a single, giving the D-backs guys on first and third with no outs. Then, Willie Bloomquist laid down a squeeze bunt. Prince Fielder might have had a play at the plate, but Axford somehow tripped him (still trying to figure out how that happened), so Fielder couldn’t make the play. And there’s Axford’s first blown save since April against the Phillies.

At that point, I thought the Brewers’ season was over. The last thing I wanted was for the Brewers’ season to end today, and then I’d have to wait until next April to see another game. But, Axford wound up getting out of the ninth inning jam, and came back out to pitch a scoreless 10th. He also received the win, and you’re about to figure out why.

Doug Melvin acquired Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals in late March, just a couple days before the season started. At that point, I was actually against this trade. I wasn’t too familiar with Morgan then, and the only reason I knew him was because of the bench-clearing brawl he caused in a game against the Marlins. I wasn’t too impressed with that, and I was worried he would be a bad influence. I honestly don’t think I’ve been more wrong about anything in my life.

Morgan had a few walk-off wins during the regular season, but none were as big as this. The D-backs put in their closer- J.J. Putz- to pitch the 10th inning. Carlos Gomez, who has been swinging an extremely hot bat lately, reached on a one-out single off Putz. Then, catcher Henry Blanco (if you were a Brewers fan in the late 90’s, you probably remember this guy) couldn’t handle one of Putz’s pitches, and that allowed Gomez to go to second base. That set the stage for Morgan’s walk-off single, which is definitely going to go down as one of the biggest hits in Brewers history.

Anyway, now I’ll move onto the NLCS, which, as I said earlier, is going to be a rematch of the ’82 Series. The Cardinals rode Chris Carpenter’s shutout to the the NLCS, but that means he’s not going to be available until Game 2, at the earliest. Same goes for Gallardo for the Brewers, however.

So that means Zack Greinke is going to be starting Game 1 for the Brewers. I’m guessing the Cardinals are going to go with Kyle Lohse or Jaime Garcia, but I would guess it’s going to be Lohse, because he hasn’t pitched since Game 1 of the Phillies series. Anyway, here’s to the beginning of one of the most exciting series since 1982.

One more thing before I conclude- I never really thought about this up until I heard it on MLB Network, but the final four teams in the playoffs are from the Midwest. That’s right- every “beast of the east” (ugh, I hate basketball terms) is gone. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Phillies, Braves- all gone. And we’re left with the Brewers, Cardinals, Tigers, and Rangers. So screw all the east coast bias- the midwest has it this year.

I haven’t really taken the time to say anything like this yet on here, but the Brewers are having an incredible season. I know the defense can be frustrating at times and the offense has been inconsistent, but the pitching. If you compare our pitching now to what it was last year, there’s practically no comparison. Gallardo, Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson is one of the best rotations in baseball. Compare that to last year- Gallardo, Wolf, Narveson, Dave Bush, and a mix of Manny Parra, Doug Davis, and Chris Capuano. You could say that the Brewers didn’t even have a rotation last year.

But they do this year. And that’s why we are where we are- and have the potential to go even further.


Brewers overcome Greinke’s shaky start, take 2-0 lead

October 3, 2011

Zack Greinke’s first postseason start probably didn’t go the way he or the Brewers wanted it to, but, in the end, it didn’t matter.

The Brewers now have a 2-0 advantage over the Diamondbacks in the NLDS with a big win today, 9-4. As I said before, Greinke’s first career postseason start didn’t go well, as he allowed three home runs for the first time this season. But, thanks to a big sixth inning by the Brewers’ offense, they remain undefeated during Greinke’s starts at Miller Park.

Ryan Braun got the Brewers on the board early, crushing a two-run home run off D-backs starter Daniel Hudson. The Diamondbacks answered in the second inning, as Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo shot off Greinke in his first postseason at-bat. But, the Brewers extended their lead to 4-1 in the third inning, thanks to a RBI single by Prince Fielder, followed by a RBI triple by Rickie Weeks. Hopefully, that triple by Weeks is a sign that his ankle is getting closer to 100%.

The Diamondbacks got back in it in the fourth inning on a Chris Young homer, then, in the fifth, Justin Upton hit a game-tying two-run shot to knot the game at 4-4. That ended up being Greinke’s last inning.

But, this all set the stage for the Brewers’ giant sixth inning. After Hudson gave up a one-out double to Jerry Hairston Jr., he was removed from the game for righty-specialist Brad Ziegler. But Ziegler’s outing ended up being worse than Hudson’s. After he committed an apocalyptic act- walking Yuniesky Betancourt on four pitches- Jonathan Lucroy laid down a suicide squeeze. But, Ziegler got greedy and tried to throw home on the play, resulting in an error. So a run scored and there were guys on second and third. But it wouldn’t stop there. Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Braun hit consecutive RBI singles to make the game 9-4, where it would remain the rest of the game. Oh yeah, and after Ziegler’s appearance, his ERA this postseason is 108.00. That’s what four runs in one third of inning will give you.

Remember Lucroy’s bloop RBI single yesterday off of D-backs ace Ian Kennedy? Well, apparently Kennedy was questioned about why he didn’t intentionally walk Lucroy to get to Yovani Gallardo, the pitcher, batting behind Lucroy. But here’s what Kennedy said:

“Not at all. I made my pitch and he placed it just right. Had him 1-and-2, there’s no thought of a walk. There was a guy who can’t really hit, and Galardo can swing it a little bit, so there was no thought at all, for me at least.”

So, in other words, he said Lucroy “can’t really hit.” Maybe he doesn’t swing the bat great compared to Miguel Montero, Kennedy’s typical batterymate, but he was in no position to say he “can’t really hit.” But Kennedy made a couple of idiot decisions yesterday. Not only did he pitch to Lucroy, but he decided to pitch to Fielder with a base open and two outs, and it resulted in a two-run homer. I thought a guy with 21 wins would be smarter than that, but apparently not.

But I did notice that, after Lucroy ended up at second after his suicide squeeze, he did a more emphatic “beast mode” than he usually does. I also noticed him glaring at the Diamondbacks’ dugout for a few seconds. I wonder who on earth he could have been staring at?

The Brewers have a chance to clinch a NLCS appearance after an off-day tomorrow in Arizona. They’ll send their best starter on the road- Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA)- to the mound. Marcum was 8-3 with a 2.21 ERA on the road this season, which was by far the best out of any Brewers’ starter on the road. He’s 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA in his career against the Diamondbacks, but here’s a funny stat- he has a grand slam against them this year.

The Diamondbacks will counter with rookie Josh Collmenter (10-10, 3.38 ERA). Normally, I wouldn’t be too worried about a rookie starter, especially in the postseason, but there a three main reasons I am this time around. First off- you can see he’s been one of the better rookie pitchers this year, putting up a 3.38 ERA in 154 innings of work. Secondly, the Brewers have sucked against rookie pitching this year. They’ve allowed the second lowest rookie ERA in the National League this year. Lastly, Collmenter has two career starts against the Brewers this season, and hasn’t allowed a run in 14 innings of work. Hopefully, the Brewers have seen him enough to get something going against him, but it’s the Brewers. You never know with them and how much they let rookie pitchers tear through their lineup…


Brewers take Game 1 behind Gallardo’s gem

October 2, 2011

In 2008, Yovani Gallardo was named the Game 1 starter for the Brewers-Phillies NLDS. This year, he was named the Game 1 starter against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but the circumstances were much different.

In 2008, Gallardo was injured nearly the entire season, and had only one start under his belt that season. So getting a playoff start- especially the first game- must have been a surprise. But, the Brewers had used CC Sabathia to clinch the Wild Card on the last day of the season, so he couldn’t be used until Game 2 at the earliest. And you can’t blame them for not wanting to use Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan in Game 1, so Gallardo was actually the only legitimate choice. Gallardo would end up losing that game, thanks to three unearned runs served up by the Brewers’ defense.

But this year was different for him. Gallardo was ready for a Game 1 start in 2011, after leading the Brewers in wins (17) and strikeouts (207). He also ended up leading the rotation in ERA (3.52). So, considering he was the ace of the staff this year (and that Zack Greinke had been used on the last day of the season), he was again the choice for Game 1.

And he certainly didn’t disappoint. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in the all-important Game 1 of the NLDS, 4-1, and pretty much rode on the back of Gallardo’s great start the entire time (until he finally got some run support towards the end). Gallardo went eight stellar innings, while giving up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out nine for his first career postseason win.

To be honest with you, Gallardo didn’t look good in the first inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Willie Bloomquist on the first pitch of the game, then allowed Bloomquist to steal second. Then, Justin Upton hit a single to left field, which you’d think would score the speedy Bloomquist, right? Think again. Left fielder Ryan Braun threw a laser to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and they nailed Bloomquist at home to prevent the first run from scoring. Just another reason Braun should be MVP, though… Anyway, that play changed the game for both teams, because after that, the D-backs couldn’t seem to do anything to get a run in.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Ian Kennedy and his 21 wins until the fourth inning, when they had bases loaded with no outs against him. But, they only scored one run, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Jerry Hairston Jr. I’m beginning to wonder what our batting average with runners on would look like if Yuniesky Betancourt weren’t on this team… Anyway, the Brewers tacked on another run in the sixth inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single.

Then, Kirk Gibson made a rather interesting decision in the seventh inning. Kennedy had just given up a two-out double to Braun, and Prince Fielder was coming up. Gibson then came out to talk to Kennedy, and probably ask him if he wanted to intentionally walk Fielder. Kennedy must have said no, which turned into a boneheaded decision on his part. He threw a first pitch fastball to Fielder, and then Fielder backed out of the batter’s box and simply smirked. He was probably thinking, “You’re actually going to pitch to me?” And that was exactly what Kennedy was doing. But, the next pitch definitely made him regret it.

Kennedy handed Fielder a hanging curveball on a silver platter for Fielder to crush over the right field wall for a two-run shot. But I’m still trying to figure out why Kennedy, with a base open at first, even pitched to Fielder.

Anyway, the Diamondbacks’ only run came on a Ryan Roberts home run leading off the eighth inning. Gallardo’s reaction to that? Striking out the side to finish the eighth. John Axford would then come in to finish the game in the ninth for his first career postseason save.

The Brewers will try and take a 2-0 advantage in this series later today against the D-backs, and will send Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA), who will be making his first career postseason start. He’s 11-0 at home this season, but is 0-2 against the D-backs in his career, so one of those streaks will come to an end today. Also note that this will be the second straight start that he’ll be starting on three days’ rest, so I guess we’ll see how he reacts to that.

The D-backs will counter with Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA), who will also be making his first postseason start. He finished the regular season 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA, so he doesn’t have much momentum coming into this start. The Brewers faced him once earlier this year, and tagged him for five runs, but all five of those runs were driven in by pitcher Shaun Marcum, who doesn’t start until tomorrow. So I don’t know how the rest of the offense will do against this guy.