Bats heat up too late in loss to Cubs

April 27, 2016

RECAP

> It looked promising early on, but Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Cubs turned out to be another typical Jimmy Nelson start: he breezed along through the first few innings before running into trouble in the middle innings. His final line was three runs (one earned) on just two hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked four– which ultimately led to his ill fate– and struck out six.

The Brewers struck first on Aaron Hill’s sacrifice fly in the second inning. Nelson (3-2, 3.16 ERA) then cruised along for a while, shutting out a tough Cubs lineup through the first four innings. His control began to elude him in the fifth, however. Nelson walked Jorge Soler to lead off the inning, which was followed by an Addison Russell single. After David Ross laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up, Nelson walked Tommy La Stella to load the bases. Nelson was lucky the only damage done in that inning would be a game-tying sacrifice fly from Dexter Fowler, but luck was not on his side in the sixth. Kris Bryant reached on an error by the third baseman Hill to lead off the inning, and then, two batters later, Ben Zobrist drew a walk. Russell then hit a go-ahead two-run triple to break it open for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double in the seventh off Blaine Boyer for what would be the game-winning run.

Milwaukee wasn’t done, but it was too little, too late for the offense. Pedro Strop walked Hill to lead off the eighth, then walked Colin Walsh two batters later. Ryan Braun, in a pinch-hit appearance, hit a two-run double to bring the Brewers within one, but that was all they would get.

> Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52 ERA) didn’t factor into the decision, but he was stellar over five innings. He gave up a run on two hits while walking one and striking out four. I have no idea why Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled him so early– he was at just 69 pitches– but the bullpen got it done, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.

> I don’t think there’s any denying that Nelson is the de facto ace of this staff. That’s in part because the Brewers’ other young starters, such as Taylor Jungmann and Wily Peralta, have been unable to step up, but Nelson also probably has the best stuff on the club at the moment, and he can usually harness that stuff.

However, there’s been an alarming trend in four of his five starts this season, one that was also very prominent when he first became a permanent fixture in the rotation in late 2014. Following his first start of the season against the Giants– when he allowed two runs over 7 1/3 innings, arguably his best start to this point– he has struggled to make it past the sixth inning. We first saw this in his start against the Astros, which, don’t get me wrong, was a very good start in which he struck out nine over 6+ innings. Craig Counsell put him back out for the seventh in that start, but he issued a leadoff walk, prompting Counsell to turn to the bullpen. Something similar happened in his third start, which came against the Pirates. He had fired six shutout innings and his pitch count was still low, so it was a no-brainer for Counsell to send him back out for the seventh. Nelson once again walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, but this time Counsell stuck with him because the Brewers had a five-run cushion at the time. The next batter reached on an error, but then Nelson served up a three-run blast to Matt Joyce. That was the end of Nelson’s outing that night, and was a slight cause for concern because it brought back memories of when he first came up.

And even more alarming: it happened again against the Twins in his last start. After cruising through the first five innings having allowed just one run, Nelson gave up two home runs in the sixth, allowing the Twins to tie it. Counsell actually forced him to work through it that time, and he pitched into the seventh inning before being lifted with two outs.

But it happened again tonight. This time started a little earlier than usual, in the fifth inning, but it’s still the same story. The trend has been that he seems to lose his control in the middle innings, which leads to walks, home runs, or both in those innings. This is eerily similar to what would happen to him in his starts in late 2014: he’d mow through lineups for the first six innings and then lose all control in the seventh.

This is common with pitchers who don’t have the greatest of stuff– i.e., they throw maybe in the high 80’s and rely on control and breaking stuff– and a good hitting team can catch on to that and time pitches, especially by the third time through the order; Shaun Marcum was a good example of that sort of pitcher. However, Nelson is not that kind of pitcher. His repertoire is advanced enough to where he can be an ace and should be able to pitch deep into games. It’s clear that he loses command in these innings, so maybe it’s an endurance thing, though he has pitched into and completed eight innings a few times in his career. Another thing that confuses me is that, while Nelson was definitely pretty inconsistent in 2015, the middle innings didn’t seem to be as much of a problem in particular as they were in 2014.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he does from here on out. The good news is he’s been pretty consistent as far as damage control goes and, outside of the middle innings, doesn’t seem to be having many problems this year; the 3.16 ERA is a good indicator of that. However, if this middle innings trend continues, I’d say the Brewers should start getting concerned.

> The Brewers will unfortunately be facing Jake Arrieta (4-0, 0.87 ERA), who is coming off a no-hitter against the Reds, tomorrow. He’s 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA against the Brewers in his career, but I’m guessing that ERA will be going down tomorrow. Milwaukee will counter with Jungmann (0-3, 8.47 ERA), who is off to a terrible start this season. In two career starts against the Cubs, he’s 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA.

 

 

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Revamped All-Star Rosters

July 11, 2011

4:58p The All-Star team rosters for both leagues have changed quite a bit since they were announced a week ago. So, here are the new rosters:

American League

Catchers: Alex Avila, Tigers | Russell Martin, Yankees | Matt Wieters, Orioles

1st Basemen: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox | Miguel Cabrera, Tigers | Paul Konerko, White Sox

2nd Basemen: Robinson Cano, Yankees | Howie Kendrick, Angels

Shortstops: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians | Derek Jeter, Yankees | Jhonny Peralta, Tigers

3rd Basemen: Adrian Beltre, Rangers | Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox | Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Outfielders: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays | Curtis Granderson, Yankees | Josh Hamilton, Rangers | Michael Cuddyer, Twins | Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox | Matt Joyce, Rays | Carlos Quentin, White Sox

Designated Hitters: David Ortiz, Red Sox | Michael Young, Rangers

Starting Pitchers: Jered Weaver, Angels | Josh Beckett, Red Sox | Gio Gonzalez, Athletics | Felix Hernandez, Mariners | Jon Lester, Red Sox | Alexi Ogando, Rangers | Michael Pineda, Mariners | David Price, Rays | Ricky Romero, Blue Jays | CC Sabathia, Yankees | James Shields, Rays | Justin Verlander, Tigers | C.J. Wilson, Rangers

Relief Pitchers: Aaron Crow, Royals | Brandon League, Mariners | Chris Perez, Indians | David Robertson, Yankees | Mariano Rivera, Yankees | Jose Valverde, Tigers | Jordan Walden, Angels

National League

Catchers: Brian McCann, Braves | Yadier Molina, Cardinals | Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks

1st Basemen: Prince Fielder, Brewers | Gaby Sanchez, Marlins | Joey Votto, Reds

2nd Basemen: Rickie Weeks, Brewers | Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstops: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies | Jose Reyes, Mets | Starlin Castro, Cubs

3rd Basemen: Scott Rolen, Reds | Placido Polanco, Phillies | Pablo Sandoval, Giants | Chipper Jones, Braves

Outfielders: Lance Berkman, Cardinals | Matt Kemp, Dodgers | Matt Holliday, Cardinals | Ryan Braun, Brewers | Jay Bruce, Reds | Hunter Pence, Astros | Andrew McCutchen, Pirates | Justin Upton, Diamondbacks | Shane Victorino, Phillies | Andre Ethier, Dodgers

Starting Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Phillies | Matt Cain, Giants | Kevin Correia, Pirates | Cole Hamels, Phillies | Jair Jurrjens, Braves | Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers | Cliff Lee, Phillies | Tim Lincecum, Giants | Ryan Vogelsong, Giants

Relief Pitchers: Heath Bell, Padres | Tyler Clippard, Nationals | Joel Hanrahan, Pirates | Craig Kimbrel, Braves | Jonny Venters, Braves | Brian Wilson, Giants

And that’s everybody. Remember that some of these guys got injured and won’t be playing, but their replacements are listed as well. And some of the pitchers who threw yesterday (Sunday) aren’t allowed to pitch in the All-Star Game, due to that stupid new rule. A few examples of guys who can’t pitch because of that rule are Hernandez, Hamels, Cain, Sabathia, Shields, etc.

Now, here’s the starting lineup for both leagues:

National League

Rickie Weeks, 2B

Carlos Beltran, DH

Matt Kemp, CF

Prince Fielder, 1B

Brian McCann, C

Lance Berkman, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Scott Rolen, 3B

Roy Halladay, SP

American League

Curtis Granderson, CF

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

Jose Bautista, RF

Josh Hamilton, LF

Adrian Beltre, 3B

David Ortiz, DH

Robinson Cano, 2B

Alex Avila, C

Jered Weaver, SP

Braun would be starting in the outfield for the National League, had it not been for that stupid calf injury. At least we’ve got Weeks and Fielder in the starting lineup, though.

Weaver and Halladay should be a good matchup. To be honest, I would have rather seen Jurrjens starting instead of Halladay so it would have been the two ERA leaders facing off. But that was Bruce Bochy’s decision, not mine.

Anyway, the Home Run Derby is starting in an hour, so I’m pretty excited for that. I’ll have some coverage up after the derby ends.


Full 2011 All-Star Rosters

July 3, 2011

12:52p The full All-Star rosters for 2011 have been officially announced. Starters, pitchers, reserves, etc., we know them all now. So, right before the Brewer game starts, I thought I’d list all of the players who made the All-Star Game at their respective positions. (Starters are listed first.)

American League

Catchers: Alex Avila, Tigers; Matt Wieters, Orioles; Russell Martin, Yankees

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees; Howie Kendrick, Angels

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees; Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees; Adrian Beltre, Rangers

Outfielders: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; Curtis Granderson, Yankees; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Matt Joyce, Rays; Michael Cuddyer, Twins; Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; Carlos Quentin, White Sox

Designated Hitters: David Ortiz, Red Sox; Michael Young, Rangers

Starting Pitchers: Justin Verlander, Tigers; Jered Weaver, Angels; Josh Beckett, Red Sox; James Shields, Rays; Gio Gonzalez, Athletics; Felix Hernandez, Mariners; David Price, Rays; C.J. Wilson, Rangers

Relief Pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Yankees; Jose Valverde, Tigers; Chris Perez, Indians; Aaron Crow, Royals; Brandon League, Mariners

National League

Catchers: Brian McCann, Braves; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

First Base: Prince Fielder, Brewers; Joey Votto, Reds; Gaby Sanchez, Marlins

Second Base: Rickie Weeks, Brewers; Brandon Phillips, Reds

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Mets; Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies; Starlin Castro, Cubs

Third Base: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Chipper Jones, Braves

Outfielders: Ryan Braun, Brewers; Lance Berkman, Cardinals; Matt Kemp, Dodgers; Matt Holliday, Cardinals; Hunter Pence, Astros; Justin Upton, Diamondbacks; Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Mets

Starting Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Phillies; Cole Hamels, Phillies; Cliff Lee, Phillies; Jair Jurrjens, Braves; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Tim Lincecum, Giants; Matt Cain, Giants; Ryan Vogelsong, Giants

Relief Pitchers: Jonny Venters, Braves; Brian Wilson, Giants; Joel Hanrahan, Pirates; Heath Bell, Padres; Tyler Clippard, Nationals

AL Final Vote Candidates: Alex Gordon, Royals; Adam Jones, Orioles; Paul Konerko, White Sox; Victor Martinez, Tigers; Ben Zobrist, Rays

NL Final Vote Candidates: Michael Morse, Nationals; Shane Victorino, Phillies; Andre Ethier, Dodgers; Todd Helton, Rockies; Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

So the Brewers have three All-Stars in the starting lineup, a franchise record. The Brewers did not get any reserves or pitchers, but I guess there wasn’t really a chance because Bruce Bochy (NL manager) chose three of his own pitchers (Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong). Not to mention Wilson got a players’ vote. I was hoping Yovani Gallardo and his nine wins would get in somehow, or Marcum and his decent ERA, but you can’t really compete with Giants or Phillies. (I forgot to point out that the stars of the Philadelphia rotation- Halladay, Hamels, and Lee- all made it. I bet Roy Oswalt would have made it as well, but he’s injured.)

As far as the AL goes, it’s the typical starting lineup for them, meaning the Yankees and Red Sox took most of the positions. Every starter for them is a player of the AL East, save for Avila and Hamilton.