Nelson’s solid start for naught vs. Shields

May 13, 2016

RECAP

> The Brewers had their chances on Thursday night, but in the end could not capitalize in a 3-0 loss to the Padres. They wasted a good start from Jimmy Nelson (4-3, 3.51 ERA), who rebounded from his worst start of the season against the Reds and posted arguably his best start. He went eight innings– his longest start of the year– while giving up two runs on just five hits. Nelson walked one and struck out five.

He received no help from his offense, however, which was stymied by a dominant James Shields (2-5, 3.12 ERA). The Padres righty scattered seven hits across seven scoreless innings while walking one and striking out nine.

The respective staff aces exchanged zeros through the first three innings before the Padres broke through against Nelson in the fourth. Wil Myers led off the inning with a single and then stole second base. Nelson rallied to record two outs and had a way out of the inning, but Melvin Upton Jr. dashed those hopes with an RBI single. The only other run against Nelson came in the seventh on an Alexei Ramirez sacrifice fly. Upton gave the Padres some more insurance in the ninth inning with a solo home run off Tyler Thornburg.

> The Crew certainly had opportunities against the Padres, but Shields managed to put out the fire in every situation. The Brewers’ most promising rally came in the sixth, when they had runners on first and third with one out thanks to singles from Jonathan Villar and Scooter Gennett. However, Shields managed to induce a Ryan Braun double play to escape unscathed. That was one of three double plays San Diego’s defense turned behind Shields, which definitely helped his cause.

NEWS

> Milwaukee acquired right-handed reliever Jhan Marinez from the Rays last night in exchange for cash. Marinez has logged nine total big league innings since he debuted back in 2010. He has appeared in the Majors with the Marlins (2010), White Sox (2012), and Rays (2016) and has allowed three runs (3.00 ERA) in that small sample size. He’s logged a 4.00 ERA across 432 1/3 in 11 minor league seasons, including a 3.63 ERA in 178 1/3 innings at Triple-A. Marinez features just two pitches in his arsenal: a fastball that averages around 95 MPH and a mid-80’s slider. However, he has posted some encouraging stats during his long minor league career, including a 9.8 K/9 as well as a 25.1% strikeout rate. Conversely, Marinez has also shown control issues, with a career 5.3 BB/9 and 13.5% walk rate in the minors.

In a corresponding move, the Brewers designated left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman for assignment. Milwaukee claimed Kirkman off waivers from the Padres last week and he made just one appearance in a Brewers uniform, allowing a run in an inning.

It’ll be interesting to see if Marinez can hold down this final Brewers bullpen slot, which has been somewhat of a revolving door since the season started. Ariel Pena was rewarded the roster spot out of spring training, but was DFA’d after a disaster appearance on opening day against the Giants. Lefty Sam Freeman replaced him for a time, but he was also DFA’d after posting an ERA over 12.00. Kirkman most recently vacated the slot prior to Marinez.

> Will Smith will throw off a mound today for the first time since he tore is LCL towards the end of spring training. If that goes well, he’ll begin a throwing program. However, if he continues to struggle with the injury, surgery, which Smith has attempted to avoid at all costs, might be inevitable.

> The Rangers signed former Brewers starter Kyle Lohse to a minor league deal today.

STATS

> Nelson’s start against the Padres is the longest of any Brewers starter so far this season.

> Despite going 1-for-4 last night, Braun remains fourth in the Majors in batting average at .376.

> The Brewers outhit the Padres eight to seven last night. Upton had three of San Diego’s seven hits and was responsible for most of the damage.

> Gennett went 2-for-3 in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

> With his start against the Brewers last night, Shields has faced all 30 big league teams.

> The Brewers will hope to even up this four-game series tonight at 7:10 p.m. CT. Junior Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Crew for his third career start. He’s allowed four runs over six innings in each of his first two starts this season. San Diego will counter with Christian Friedrich (0-0, -.– ERA), who will be making his Padres debut. In two career starts against Milwaukee, both of which came with the Rockies, Friedrich is 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA.


Brewers unable to sweep after Thornburg’s implosion

May 5, 2016

RECAP

> It looked like the Brewers had a series sweep in the bag after the sixth inning on Wednesday, but, unlike the first two games of the series, it was the Angels who played comeback and eventually beat the Brewers 7-3. Zach Davies (0-3, 6.98 ERA) was finally good enough to win, keeping Milwaukee in the game with his first quality start of the season. However, the bullpen that had been able to shut down the Angels early in the series finally broke, and the floodgates opened late in the game for the Angels.

The Brewers struck first in the second inning on Hernan Perez’s solo shot off Angels starter Hector Santiago (2-1, 3.58 ERA). The Angels quickly answered back in the top of the third, however, on Rafael Ortega’s RBI single, which was followed by a Mike Trout RBI triple to put the Halos up 2-1. Ryan Braun tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning with an RBI single, and then, in the sixth, Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded, allowing the Brewers to take the lead.

The bullpen had other plans, however. After Carlos Torres threw a clean seventh inning, Tyler Thornburg, who entered the game having had nine scoreless outings out of his ten appearances on the season, ran into a wall in the eighth. Trout waited back on an 0-2 hanging curve from Thornburg and deposited it just over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Thornburg then recorded two outs but continued to struggle, allowing a Kole Calhoun single and walking Geovany Soto. C.J. Cron ripped a go-ahead RBI double to knock Thornburg out of the game, but Johnny Giavotella greeted Blaine Boyer with a two-run single, both of which were charged to Thornburg. The Angels tacked on one more in the ninth on Calhoun’s RBI single off David Goforth.

> Davies was not spectacular on Wednesday, but with the way most of the Brewers rotation has pitched this season, even an average quality start is a miracle. He went six innings while giving up two runs on five hits. Davies walked three and struck out three in what could have been his first win of 2016 if not for the failure of the bullpen.

He did outpitch his mound opponent, Santiago, who also took a no-decision. He went 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. Santiago walked four and struck out four. The Brewers made him work, forcing him to throw 116 pitches in fewer than six innings.

NEWS

> The Brewers have recalled Tyler Cravy from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start in place of Wily Peralta on Friday. Peralta was placed on paternity leave today following the birth of his daughter.

Perhaps having his start pushed back will be of benefit to Peralta, who has struggled so far in 2016 to the tune of a 7.50 ERA. His replacement, Cravy, has already seen time in the big league bullpen this year, where he pitched to a 3.18 ERA (two runs in 5 2/3 innings) over five games. In 2015, Cravy threw most of his innings at the Major League level out of the rotation, and was 0-8 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 games (seven starts).

> The Crew claimed left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman off waivers from the Padres earlier today. The Padres designated him for assignment earlier this week; he had given up four runs in just 1 1/3 innings at the big league level for San Diego after posting a 4.50 ERA (three runs in six innings) for Triple-A El Paso.

Kirkman was part of the Brewers organization last year and posted a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings for Colorado Springs, an encouraging stat given the hitter-friendly environment. While his strikeout rate was good– he had a 9.6 K/9 for the Sky Sox– he struggled mightily with his command, posting a 7.9 BB/9. Control issues have followed Kirkman all throughout his professional career, though his BB/9 in 108 innings at the big league level is a much more respectable 4.6. He has a 5.25 ERA over that span and spent most of his career with the Rangers up until 2015. Kirkman will likely audition for a spot in the Brewers bullpen, which has lacked effective left-handed relief since Will Smith went down right before the season started. They designated Sam Freeman for assignment earlier this week, leaving Chris Capuano as the only southpaw in the ‘pen at the moment.

> Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggested that the Red Sox, White Sox, and Nationals would be the best trade partners for the Brewers should they decide to part ways with Braun.

Personally, I doubt the Brewers are going to deal Braun unless they’re absolutely blown away by a potential deal. That could happen with the Red Sox and Nats, as both have pretty impressive farm systems, but I think it’s still a long shot. David Stearns hasn’t hesitated in making big trades early on in his tenure, however, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

STATS

> Trout ripped the Brewers to shreds in this series, hitting .538 (7-for-13) with two home runs and seven RBIs. He’s now hitting .522 in his career against the Crew.

> Old friend Albert Pujols also came back to haunt the Brewers, notching four hits during the series. He’s certainly nothing like he was during his glory days in St. Louis, at least average-wise: he’s hitting just .198 so for this season and hit .244 in 2015. However, he slugged 40 home runs in 2015, his highest total since 2010, so the Hall of Fame will no doubt be waiting for him at the end of the road.

> It’ll be a battle of the National League Central bottom feeders this weekend, as the Brewers start a four-game set in Cincinnati tonight. Chase Anderson (1-3, 5.55 ERA) will look to get back on track: he didn’t give up an earned run in either of his first two starts of the season, but has gone 0-3 with a 10.12 ERA in his last three starts. Here’s an encouraging stat, though: he’s 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.

The Reds will counter with Alfredo Simon (0-3, 13.50 ERA), who has been absolutely atrocious in 2015. He has yet to make it into the sixth inning in any of his starts and has only completed five once. Simon sports a 3.29 ERA in his career against the Brewers over 11 appearances, though just two of them were starts.

Here are the match-ups for the rest of the series:

Tyler Cravy (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (0-0, 3.00 ERA)

Jimmy Nelson (4-2, 3.05 ERA) vs. Brandon Finnegan (1-1, 3.97 ERA)

Junior Guerra (1-0, 6.00 ERA) vs. John Lamb (0-0, 1.50 ERA)