All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.

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Crew will have to compete for Dempster

November 30, 2012

> Turns out the Brewers aren’t the only team expressing interest in Ryan Dempster. In fact, the other two teams could be very tough to bid against, seeing as they each reside in relatively big markets.

The two teams the Brewers will have to deal with are the Angels and Red Sox, both of whom are in desperate need of a starting pitcher; perhaps even more so than the Brewers.

If the Brewers don’t end up signing a veteran starter this offseason, it isn’t the end of the world. The Brewers still have a nice crop of big league-ready starting pitching prospects to choose from, including Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, and Tyler Thornburg. The same can’t be said for the Angels or Red Sox, however. The reason the Angels acquired Zack Greinke at the Trade Deadline was because of their lack of prospects ready to start at the big league level, and now they’re in jeopardy of not being able to re-sign Greinke. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have just had all sorts of starting pitching issues over the past few years, and now they’re trying to dip into the free agent market to fix it.

Despite the fact both of these teams have bigger markets than Milwaukee (though we have a ton of payroll flexibility right now), the Brewers could hold a few advantages. The first is that the Brewers are the only of these three teams in the National League. After posting a 5.09 ERA with the Rangers in the second half of 2012, which is his only extended period of pitching in the American League, it goes without saying that Dempster is an NL pitcher. Dempster’s success at Miller Park could also factor into the decision.

Or, the Brewers could get lucky and one of the other teams will drop out of the bidding. Last year, it was speculated early in the offseason that the Phillies- who needed a third baseman- were targeting Aramis Ramirez. There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to sign him and the Brewers would be left hanging, but the Phils unexpectedly dropped out and left Ramirez for the taking. It’s unlikely, but perhaps similar circumstances will ensue this offseason.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it isn’t the apocalypse (not until December 21st, that is) if the Brewers don’t sign Dempster. Their farm system is ready to occupy a few of the rotation spots if need be. And Dempster isn’t the only guy on the market. There are guys like Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson out there, who could also be potential fits for the Brewers (though, as I’ve preached, Dempster is the much safer play).

Dempster isn’t a neccesity, but could be a very nice asset to the 2013 Brewers.

> Tomorrow is the deadline to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players. John Axford, Marco Estrada, and Carlos Gomez appear to be locks to be tendered contracts. Chris Narveson will probably be given a contract. The only guy who isn’t so likely to be tendered is Manny Parra, who I wouldn’t mind seeing the Brewers cut ties with at this point.

> Minor moves: 

Pirates: Signed Russell Martin to a two-year deal.
Rays: Signed Mike Fontenot to a minor league deal.
Royals: Outrighted Chris Volstad and Brayan Pena, both of whom elected free agency; re-signed Felipe Paulino to a one-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Collin Balester and Yangervis Solarte to minor league deals.
Padres: Signed Travis Buck, Eddy Rodriguez, and Daniel Stange to minor league deals.
Athletics: Signed Scott Moore to a minor league deal.
Yankees: Re-signed Mariano Rivera to a one-year deal.
Nationals: Acquired Denard Span from the Twins.
Twins: Acquired Alex Meyer from the Nationals.
Indians: Re-signed Blake Wood to a one-year deal.


Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


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.


Postseason preview of the Brewers-D-backs NLDS

September 30, 2011

It’s been awhile. Sorry for not getting up an articles in a couple days; I’m having a pretty stressful week. I’ve had close to no time to even get on the computer, much less write a full article. But I’m back, and should have all the postseason coverage on this blog.

Speaking of the postseason. The last time I posted was when the Brewers clinched the NL Central on Ryan Braun’s clutch home run against the Marlins. From there, the Brewers went on to sweep the Marlins and win their regular season-ending series against the Pirates. The also finished with a franchise record 96 wins, which is astounding, if you think about it.

But wow, did some crazy things happen in both Wild Card races yesterday.

The Rays and Cardinals are headed to the postseason. If I told you that coming into September, you would have called me crazy. I would have called myself crazy. But it happened, thanks to historical September meltdowns by the Braves and Red Sox.

That’s right. The Red Sox. The dream fantasy team, that had Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester- I could go on forever. And they blew a nine-game Wild Card lead. That’s the largest Wild Card lead blown since it was introduced in the early 90’s.

Anyway, here’s what happened to them last night. After a rain delay that lasted a few hours in Baltimore, the Red Sox led the Orioles, 3-2, in the ninth inning. Jonathan Papelbon, one of the best closers in the game, was in to try and finish it off. And he blew it. He gave up two runs, the parting blow coming from Robert Andino- a name that no casual baseball fan has ever heard. But, he’ll always be remembered as part of what ruined what could have been a good season for the BoSox.

But something great had to happen in St. Pete if the Rays were to make the postseason, right? And it was great. They were playing the Yankees, and were down 7-0 going into the eighth inning. But, they scored six runs in the eighth, putting a ton of pressure on the Yankees to close it out in the ninth. The Yankees must not have felt that much pressure, though- they didn’t even put in all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera (ugh, it feels weird saying that) to close out a one-run game. That resulted in a game-tying home run by Dan Johnson (another name that a casual baseball fan has never heard). But, the Rays wouldn’t clinch their postseason berth until the 12th inning. It came on a line-drive home run by Longoria- his second of the game- and it left the Red Sox absolutely stunned. Even I’m still trying to get a grip on the fact that the Red Sox aren’t going to be in the postseason.

Anyway, the Cardinals can thank two players in particular for getting them into the postseason- Chris Carpenter and Craig Kimbrel. Carpenter tossed a two-hitter against the Astros, and Kimbrel, unable to contain his emotions in the ninth inning, blew a crucial save against the Phillies, ending the Braves’ season abruptly.

But, with all that out of the way, let’s get down to business. The regular season is over; now, we wait and see who’ll reach the Fall Classic.

Thanks to the Cardinals reaching the postseason, the Brewers will host the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. To be honest with you, this completely messes up my predictions for the postseason- I was hoping for a Brewers-D-Backs NLCS. But that obviously can’t happen now.

Anyway, here are the pitching match-ups for this series:

Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA)

Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA)

Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (12-13, 3.69 ERA)

You can just tell by looking at the numbers that these are all going to be great match-ups. But, it couldn’t have come out better for the Brewers- and you’re about to figure out why home field advantage was so important to the Crew.

Gallardo and Greinke each have 11 wins at home this year. Gallardo has two losses, and Greinke has none. This is why home field advantage was so important. Both pitchers are practically invincible at home, especially Greinke, who is invincible at home (at least so far). Kennedy and Hudson obviously won’t be easy to beat, however, so expect a few pitchers’ duels. Oh, by the way, I just thought I should mention this- Gallardo is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his career against the D-Backs. That could be a pretty big factor.

Then, the series changes venues- which also plots out in the Brewers’ favor. Marcum has been that one guy who is different from everyone in the rotation. Instead of being great at home, he’s great on the road- his 2.31 ERA on the road proves that.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. The two ALDS’s start tomorrow between the Rays and Rangers, and Yankees and Tigers, so we’ll have those to keep us company until the NLDS starts. The Yanks-Tigers game will be interesting- CC Sabathia, a former Brewer, will face Justin Verlander, who has a no-hitter against the Brewers. That’s a game I won’t be missing.

Anyway, one more thing before I go- let me say that this could be a magical year for the Brewers.


Brewers’ rally against the flameout falls short

September 20, 2011

I see nothing in Carlos Marmol. Absolutely nothing.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs today, 5-2, and their magic number will stay at four for at least another day. That’s because the Cardinals beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies (talk about a worthless bunch). But that’s why I hate the Phillies- when I want them to win, which is rare, they don’t. And they win the rest of the time.

Anyway, back to the Brewers and Cubs. All five Cubs runs were driven in by Geovany Soto, who hit two two-run homers and had a RBI single. The only Brewers runs came on home runs by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Casey McGehee.

Chris Narveson had a very short start today, going just four innings while giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits. But, I guess you can’t blame him- the Brewers have been yanking him in and out of the starting rotation over the past few weeks, plus he was injured before that. Switching a pitcher between the rotation and bullpen rapidly is NOT how you help him recover from an injury. Anyway, Narveson took his first career loss against the Cubs with the loss today.

Casey Coleman, on the other hand, dominated the Brewers- just like all pitchers with ERAs over 7.00 do. He went six innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

The Brewers rallied against Marmol in the ninth inning, starting with a McGehee solo homer. But, Marmol, after giving up back-t0-back hits, would strike out Taylor Green and Corey Hart to end the game.

Anyway, there are a couple reasons I called Marmol a “flameout” earlier. I just don’t see anything in him. First off, the catcher-converted-into-pitcher is having a horrible year. He has a 3.91 ERA- which is actually pretty high for a closer- and has 34 saves. Sure, 34 saves sounds alright- unless you compare it to the 43 opportunities he’s had. That’s nine blown saves. Marmol actually lost the closer’s role for awhile to Sean Marshall, but was recently inserted back into that slot. Anyway, another reason I don’t see anything in Marmol- his signature pitch, the slider, doesn’t even break half of the time. It just spins up to the plate, resulting in hard-hit balls. And, when the slider does break, it breaks way out of the zone. He’s had outings this year where he walks four or more batters this year, and gives up six or more runs. Not something you want to see from a closer.

Anyway, one more thing- Mariano Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman’s save record with his 602nd career save today. That didn’t take too long; Hoffman barely held onto the record for a year. But Rivera is definitely going to have more than 602 saves- he has a 1.98 ERA, and he’s 42. That’s something you don’t hear too often… Anyway, there’s no other active closer even remotely close to 600 saves- the next closest is ex-Brewers Francisco Cordero. But I can’t see Cordero getting to 600 saves.

But who knows. Maybe in 15 years, we’ll be celebrating John Axford’s 600th save. That’s looking pretty far ahead. But, I’d love to see it, no matter when it comes- if it comes, that is.

The Brewers will look to even up this series in Chicago tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’ll be in search for some run support- something he hasn’t gotten over the past month. Marcum has been that one starter that has been amazing on the road for the Brewers, however. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the road this season. Anyway, Marcum has one career start against the Cubs, in which he gave up two runs over six innings and earned the win.

The Cubs will counter with Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93 ERA). Wells hasn’t lost over his last nine starts, but is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in his career against the Brewers.


Brewers pound Reds again behind Gallardo’s 13 K’s

September 18, 2011

I knew the Brewers’ offense would come around in this series. I mean, who has a better pitching staff to get an offense going than the Reds? (Well, maybe the Royals, but they aren’t in the NL, unfortunately.)

The Brewers crushed the Reds again today, 10-1. Coming into this series, the Brewers’ offense had mightily struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and even Rockies. But, the Reds’ awful pitching staff has helped get them back on track. And, the Brewers are now extremely close to winning their first division title in 29 years, as their magic number now moves to five, thanks to a Cardinals’ loss to the Phillies. Not to mention the Diamondbacks lost to the Padres as well, so they’re now two games behind the Brewers for the second-best record in the National League. Oh, and yet another good thing for the Brewers- they’re one win away from 90 wins.

For the second straight start, Yovani Gallardo had the strikeout pitch working. He went six innings while giving up one run on just two hits. He also walked two and struck out a new career-high 13 batters. It was the second straight start Gallardo struck out at least 10, as he struck out 12 in his last start against the Phillies. And, Gallardo made a little history today as well- he became the second pitcher in Brewers’ history to strike out four batters in one inning, because Jonathan Lucroy couldn’t handle what would have been the third out of the fifth inning. The first Brewers to do it was Manny Parra, who struck out four in one inning last year.

Anyway, onto the offense. Ryan Braun got it started in the first by driving in his 100th RBI of the season with a single off Edinson Volquez. The Reds countered right away with Yonder Alonso’s game-tying solo homer in the second inning, but the Brewers’ offense took off from there.

Yuniesky Betancourt had a good day at the plate (which isn’t something you see too often from him anymore). He hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to give the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and added on a RBI single in the sixth.

But, Braun delivered the knock-out punch to the Reds in the seventh inning with a three-run shot for his 31st homer of the year. Braun finished with a 3-for-5 night, and took the lead in the NL batting title chase. He’s now hitting .333, while Jose Reyes of the Mets is hitting .332.

Anyway, that wasn’t even the end of the offense. Mark Kotsay hit a base-clearing double in the eighth inning, and Nyjer Morgan followed that up with a RBI single. But that would finally be it for the offense.

By the way, Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ future Hall of Fame closer, earned his 601st career save today, which ties Trevor Hoffman for the most all-time. I was hoping Hoffman would hold onto that title longer, but I guess I wasn’t expecting Mo to have a 40+ save season at his age.

The Brewers will go for a sweep of the Reds tomorrow at 12:10 PM CT. They’ll send Zack Greinke (14-6, 3.87 ERA) to the mound. He’s coming off a short start against the Rockies that was plagued with long at-bats and bad defense, lasting just five innings, but the Brewers would come back and win that game. Anyway, Greinke is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his career against the Reds.

The Reds will counter with Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04), who, no matter what he does, can’t find his first win with the Reds. And he’s pitched better than his record and ERA show, in my opinion. Willis is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

UPDATE 10:49a: Willis actually became a late scratch for the Reds earlier today due to back spasms. Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.88 ERA) will start against the Brewers in Willis’ place. This will be Maloney’s first start of the year. He’s also only faced the Brewers in relief, never in a start.