Brewers avoid utter embarrassment

August 12, 2012

POSTGAME

> A sweep at the hands of the Astros would have made the Brewers truly hit rock bottom. But, they were able to avoid a sweep by the worst team in baseball, defeating the Astros 5-3.

Yovani Gallardo was able to go deep into the game, throwing 7 2/3 solid innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out eight. It was his longest outing of the year, and the second most pitches he’d thrown (114). Jose Veras came in to get the last out of what could have been a rocky eighth inning, then Kameron Loe recorded the save in the ninth (which was also pretty shaky).

Gallardo had a rough first inning, giving up back-t0-back doubles to Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez to start the game. But, Gallardo himself tied the game with an RBI single in the second inning. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, and Ryan Braun followed that up with an RBI groundout to make the score 3-1. Gonzalez’s RBI groundout in the bottom of the inning cut into the Brewers’ lead, but Corey Hart added an insurance run in the sixth on 22nd home run of the year. The Brewers added another important run in the eighth on Martin Maldonado’s RBI double. The last Astros run came on Scott Moore’s RBI single in the eighth.

THE ROTATION SITUATION

> The other day, Ron Roenicke announced that the Brewers might start monitoring pitch count and the number of innings that pitchers throw, also mentioning that a few could even be shut down. If you don’t already know, I’m strongly against pitch count and the emphasis it has on today’s game of baseball, so naturally I’m opposed to this idea. But let me explain why I think it’s useless.

The only name Roenicke mentioned as to who would probably shut down is Mike Fiers, who is by far the best pitcher in the Brewers’ rotation right now. His 1.80 ERA makes him a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. So why even think about shutting him down?

According to Roenicke, the Brewers want to “protect his arm.” After an eight-inning performance his last time out, Fiers is at 80 innings on the year (excluding 55 innings in the Minors). If you add those together, he’s at a total of 135 innings, and Fiers has never thrown more than 135 innings, which is RRR’s excuse to possibly shut him down.

And that’s what I don’t understand. Not letting a young a guy throw more innings than he has before isn’t going to help him develop. He has to get out of his comfort zone and throw more innings; he’s in the Majors now.

I do understand trying to protect his arm, but that’s pretty pointless, considering Fiers doesn’t have much injury history. For a guy like Mark Rogers, who has a ton of injuries on his ledger, sure, I can cope with not letting him throw as many innings until we know he’s back to 100%. But Fiers is at 100% right now, and is doing some of the best pitching the Brewers have seen in quite some time. So why take that away?

Roenicke has also suggested going to a six-man rotation, which would also hold back the innings of each pitcher. I’m not for that, either, but at least the guys would continue to pitch, instead of being shut down for the year. If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the six-man rotation.

RRR also tried to compare this to what the Rockies are doing. Please, our pitching staff isn’t that bad. (Unless we’re talking about the bullpen, which we aren’t.)

THE NEWS

> Weeks was tried again at the top of the order, a role he lost earlier this year after his awful start. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, so I doubt we’ll see him there tomorrow.

> Two former Brewers took the mound today. Chris Capuano took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning against the Marlins before it was broken up by Jose Reyes. Ben Sheets will try to continue his astounding comeback tonight against the Mets, which will be broadcasted on ESPN.

> The Cubs picked up former Brewers starter Seth McClung today, signing him to a Minor League deal. The Brewers tried McClung again this year in the Minors, but just couldn’t control the damage, so he was released two weeks ago.

The Cubs have already tried something similar to this. Last year, they signed former Brewer Doug Davis to a Minor League deal, and he eventually reached the Majors. But that experiment didn’t work out too well, and I doubt McClung will either.

> One of the Brewers’ first round picks in this year’s draft, Victor Roache, was cleared to take dry swings today. He’d been out for over four months due to major arm surgery.

THE NUMBERS GAME

> Jean Segura continues to improve at the plate, as he went 2-for-4 today. His average is up to .250.

> Hart’s home run today snapped him out of an o-for-11 slump.

> This was Gallardo’s third consecutive start in which he himself picked up an RBI.

> Loe’s save was just the third of his career.

> Probables for the upcoming series in Colorado:

Mike Fiers (6-4, 1.80 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (3-4, 6.06 ERA)

Randy Wolf (3-8, 5.46 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.06 ERA)

Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.08 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 5.07 ERA)

THE EXTRAS

> This play may have been the Brewers’ play of the year, and sparks some excitement for the Segura/Weeks double play tandem.

> Hart technically had the only Brewers home run this series, but Mike Vassallo might disagree with that.

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The second chances aren’t working

August 11, 2012

POSTGAME

> You can say all you want about how bad the Brewers’ bullpen is. It leads baseball in blown saves. I guess it hasn’t left Ron Roenicke with many options, but lately one option has actually emerged. It’s Jim Henderson, the 29-year old Canadian who has spent 10 years in the Minors before finally getting his chance at the Major League level. And he’s been producing. Coming into today, he had a 2.57 ERA (should be 1.29), and appeared to have the closer’s role locked down.

But, Roenicke did what he’s been doing FAR too much this season; try and give the struggling relievers second chances. And it cost starter Mark Rogers.

The Brewers lost to the Astros today, 4-3, courtesy of John Axford’s eighth blown save, and his seventh loss.

It was going fine early. In the first inning, Ryan Braun drove in Nyjer Morgan, who had reached on a dropped strike three. In the second inning, Astros starter Bud Norris threw a wild pitch with Jean Segura batting, which allowed Rickie Weeks to score from third, giving the Brewers an early 2-0 lead.

The Astros didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning on Carlos Corporan’s RBI single. Up until that inning, Rogers had held the Astros hitless through four innings. This was by far his best outing as a big leaguer, as he went seven innings while giving up a run on three hits (all in the fifth inning). He walked two and struck out eight.

The Brewers tacked on one more in the seventh on Segura’s RBI single.

So Roenicke must have thought it was 2011 today, because he used Francisco Rodriguez in the eighth, and Axford in the ninth. K-Rod gave up a home run to Corporan to cut the lead to 3-2, and from there retired the side in order.

Then Axford came in, and disaster once again struck.

Axford walked Brett Wallace to start the inning, who was pinch-run for by Tyler Greene. But, Greene advanced all the way to third base because of a wild pitch. Steve Pearce promptly tied the game with an RBI single and reached second base because of an error by center fielder Carlos Gomez. Scott Moore then drilled an Axford pitch to very deep center field (a few feet up Tal’s Hill), but Gomez managed to make the play, with Pearce tagging to third base. Brian Bogusevic dealt the finishing blow with a walk-off RBI single.

By the way, some people on Twitter were trying to blame Axford’s wild pitch on catcher Jonathan Lucroy. I’ll admit he didn’t make the best effort, but there’s honestly no point attempting to defend the bullpen anymore. It is what it is.

THE ANALYSIS

> I can’t explain everything, because I’d be attempting to figure out what goes on in the mind of Roenicke. I can’t do that, nor would I ever want to.

But I can say this. The Brewers have found another closer for the time being, that reliever being Henderson. But that’s useless if Roenicke continues to go back to the reliever who have failed the Brewers time and time again.

By the way- I’m not trying to come down on Axford, at least not directly. Obviously I have to blame him for the loss, considering he took the loss. But I’ve tried to stay away from mocking players directly lately, because I recently learned a lesson, that lesson being to not say anything online (or anywhere else) that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. I made that mistake three years ago on my old Twitter account, and I’ve made it a few times on my current account and even here on BWI. But I’ve tried to imply that rule to myself a lot more often lately, because I recently ran into Axford in person. All I could do was ask for a picture. Would I ever tell him “quit blowing saves” or “you’re horrible?” Heck no. There are plenty of people who do that on Twitter, and I don’t want to one of those people. But I’m a writer, so I have to at least be critical about it.

But I’m not afraid to come down on Roenicke, because it’s gotten to the point where I would probably blow up at him in person.

Anyway, I kind of rode off topic there, but I felt the need to get that out there.

> I was going to talk about the possibility of Mike Fiers (and other pitches) getting shut down before the end of the year, but I think I’m going to save that for another day. That topic requires its own article, because I’d also need to go into my opinion of that, pitch count, and so on.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum made his first rehab start today for the Timber Rattlers (Single-A). He went three innings and threw 36 pitches, 28 for strikes. He gave up a solo home run, but was otherwise solid. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. Marcum was only scheduled to throw 35-40 pitches, so the low innings and pitch count were probably because he hadn’t thrown to live hitters in awhile.

Marcum hopes to return to the Brewers by their home series against the Cubs on August 20th.

> The innings limit suggested by Roenicke counts as news, I guess.

THE NUMBERS

> The bullpen is awful. You don’t need the numbers to tell you that anymore.

> Weeks went 3-for-4 with a career-high three doubles today.

> Gomez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all against Norris.

> Segura got his first hit that left the infield, and his first hit that drove in a run.

> Rogers’ chance at his first career win was once again blown by the bullpen.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 5.60 ERA)

 


Time for umpires to be ejected- from baseball

August 9, 2012

> I’ve never been one to come down on umpires. I understand they have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. Just like players make mistakes, umpires will every so often as well.

Some people would disagree with this, but, in my opinion, umpires’ mistakes are usually by accident. Say there’s a bang-bang play at first base. Sometimes the naked eye just can’t see whether or not the runner was safe, without instant replay (but that’s another story). Since MLB refuses to expand instant replay, we have to accept the fact that umpires are human and will miss calls like that every now and then.

Those are the type of umpire mistakes I can accept. But, there was an incident last night where an umpire became selfish, and an innocent player was punished because of it. Those are the types of intentional mistakes that make me hate umpires.

The incident I’m referring to occurred in last night’s Nationals-Astros game. The first part of it happened in the fourth inning. Bryce Harper was at the plate, and Armando Galarraga (who, ironically, has one of the most famous run-ins with an ump of all time) was on the mound. Harper had an 0-2 count, and Galarraga threw a fastball that ran a bit outside. Catcher Carlos Corporan sort of framed the ball, but not enough to make it a strike. But, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez (heard that name before?) called Harper out. Harper didn’t explode about the strike call, but he let Hernandez know that he thought it was outside. Hernandez appeared to take it well, and didn’t eject Harper.

All seemed well until Harper’s next at-bat in the sixth inning. The Nats had the bases loaded with two outs against reliever Chuckie Fick, and Harper was in a favorable 3-1 count. So, Fick, a left-hander, threw a cutter to the also left-handed Harper that appeared to run outside- there was no question about this one. Harper waited for a strike call, didn’t hear it, and started to run to first base. But, after Harper took a few steps out of the batter’s box, Hernandez called a strike. You could see the discontent on Harper’s face as he walked back to the batter’s box.

On the next pitch, Fick threw a cutter in the exact same place. Harper once again started to run to first base, but Hernandez called that pitch a strike as well. Harper slammed his bat in anger, but made no gesture towards Hernandez, so he wasn’t ejected.

Still, this shows that Hernandez held a grudge against Harper from the fourth inning. He also probably wanted to see if he could break Harper and make him retaliate. Harper, who is just 19, handled it perfectly, although I wouldn’t have blamed him one bit for barking at Hernandez.

The point is that some umpires aren’t even doing their job anymore. They think fans come to the games to see them, which isn’t at all the case. MLB claims that they’re evaluating their umpires, but that is in no way true. If they actually were, guys like Hernandez, Joe West, Bob Davidson, and so on would be on the unemployment line right now.

#RobotUmps2013

The News

> The Brewers don’t play today, which is why I decided to put up an opinionated article. They start a three-game series with the Astros in Houston tomorrow.

> Shaun Marcum’s first rehab start for the Timber Rattlers was rained out today. Instead, he’ll make his scheduled start tomorrow at 5:35 PM CT in the first game of a double-header.

> I learned from EM this morning that the Cardinals traded the one-time highly-touted prospect Tyler Greene to the Astros for a player to be named later and/or cash considerations. This comes the night after Greene was booed by the “best fans in baseball” because he made an error that would have cost the Cards the game at the time. They went on to lose to the Giants 15-0, which wasn’t all Greene’s fault. But the game could have gone differently had he not made the error.

Anyway, Cards fans have always had mixed feelings about Greene, but the past few years they’ve found ways to blame him for everything. So I’m guessing the game last night was the last straw for Greene, and he requested a trade following it.

> Last night, a pretty funny situation happened to Reds media relations director Jamie Ramsey (@Jamieblog), who also runs a blog. After the Reds lost to the Brewers, he got into fights publicly with a bunch of Reds fans. He also apparently sent a threatening direct message to one of the guys he was in disagreement with. The user he sent it to posted a picture of the DM a few minutes later, and Ramsey deleted his account (which he brought back this morning). Deadspin got a hold of it, so you can guess what happened from there. (Here’s a link to Deadspin’s article, which posted all the conversations/pictures Ramsey was having.)

> The Orioles called up their top prospect today, shortstop Manny Machado. There was some speculation that the O’s, when they were in the running for Zack Greinke, would need to give him up, but they weren’t willing to do that.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what they do with former Brewer JJ Hardy, who currently mans the starting shortstop position for the Orioles. Machado is starting at third base tonight, but his natural position is shortstop, so I can’t imagine they’d keep playing him at third (since Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds also need positions).

I would say this is a perfect time for the Brewers to claim Hardy off waivers and use him as a utilityman, but Hardy has been one of the Orioles’ best power hitters the past two years, so they probably wouldn’t give him up in the middle of a pennant race.

> MLB released its new playoff schedule today. It’s screwy this year, but is supposed to get better after this year:

October 4th: Regular season tiebreaker game(s) (if needed) (TBS)

October 5th: Tiebreaker games between the two Wild Card winners for each league (TBS)

October 6th: First two Division Series begin (TBS)

October 7th: Second two Division Series begin (TBS/MLBN)

October 13th: ALCS begins (FOX)

October 14th: NLCS begins (FOX)

October 24th: World Series begins at NL Park (FOX)

Now we see the effect of the two Wild Cards be added to late (if they should have been added at all). Everything is jam-packed at the beginning of the postseason. That causes the teams with worse records to have home field advantage in the first round due to time/travel issues. Sort of defeats the point of home field advantage, no? Everything returns to normal in the second round, however.

MLB Network is also going to be broadcasting a few DS games this fall for the first time in their history.

Probably none of this will apply to the Brewers, though.

> I updated the about page here at BWI. I made that page over a year ago when I first started BWI, so it was in desperate need of some updating.

On another note regarding the site, I’ve decided that I’m probably going to change the theme again. At first I liked the new theme, but lately it’s felt too busy and crowded. It makes the style of article I write feel messy and unorganized, and there are a ton of useless widgets that the theme doesn’t let me get rid of.

The Numbers

> Randy Wolf threw a 49 MPH eephus/curveball in yesterday’s game against the Reds. I think that’s a record low, even for him. You can watch the slow ball here.

> Anyway, that’s about it. I’ll be back tomorrow with more Brewers coverage.


Brewers hang on after wild ninth

April 30, 2012

> Sorry for the lack of posts lately (it feels like I have to say that too often nowadays). Schoolwork and things like that have been piling up recently, so I just decided to take a bit of a hiatus from Breaking Wisconsin and Reviewing the Brew to make sure I stayed on top of my work. Plus, the Brewers had a three-game losing streak going into today, so it wasn’t like I was missing much, as far as posting goes.

> But I figured today would be a good day to come back. The Brewers managed to salvage one game out of this dismal series with the Cardinals, winning 3-2. Zack Greinke notched his third win of the season, and the Brewers managed to defeat Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium for once. And, although the offense wasn’t somewhat non-existent for the third consecutive day, it was enough to take down the Cards.

For the second straight start, Greinke didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to pull a win out of his pocket. He went six innings while giving up one run on seven hits. His command wasn’t the sharpest, as he walked four and struck out just two. But, both of the strikeouts came against the Cards’ hottest hitter, David Freese, so it’s nice to know we have someone on the team capable of getting him out.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on Rafael Furcal’s RBI single. After that, I thought the Brewers were in for another rough day of bad pitching. But Greinke managed to dance around trouble every time he got into a jam after that.

The Brewers finally tied up the game in the sixth on Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single. A few batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hit a go-ahead, two-RBI double to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead that they wouldn’t again give up.

But they had to work for it. John Axford came on for the save in the ninth inning, and it didn’t start well. He walked Matt Holliday to lead off the inning, then gave up a single to Carlos Beltran. That advanced Tyler Greene (pinch-running for Holliday) to third. Axford then rallied to strike out Freese (man did it feel good to see him strike out three times). Axe then struck out another hot-hitting Cardinal, Yadier Molina, and that’s when the drama started. As Molina struck out, Beltran broke for second base. Lucroy threw down to second where Alex Gonzalez caught the ball, and they had Beltran in a rundown. As Gonzalez was chasing Beltran back to first, Greene broke for home in a dangerous attempt to tie the game. Gonzalez then threw back to Lucroy at home, and they tagged out Greene for a shocking finish to the game.

Regardless of all that happened, this was Axford’s 48th consecutive save, and he’s well into elite company at this point. 48 is the fourth longest save streak in Major League history, which is incredible, especially if you know Axford’s back story.

> The Brewers made a couple of roster moves prior to today’s game, sending Mike McClendon back to Triple-A. They called up journeyman Vinnie Chulk, who last pitched in the Majors in 2009 for the Indians.

But it was only a matter of time before McClendon was sent down. I used to have high hopes for this guy, especially when he was called up in September of 2010- he looked great. But now his mechanics are completely out of whack, and he doesn’t have any command. He ate up some valuable innings while he was up, but the 10.13 ERA was too much.

> On a non-Brewers note, Prince Fielder hit a home run today off another ex-Brewer, CC Sabathia. Fielder looked like a fool against CC in Interleague play last year, but the homer he hit today was a mammoth- and I mean a mammoth. But the Yankees still wound up winning, as the Tigers’ recent struggles continue.

> Tomorrow, the Brewers head out to the west coast for the first time this year, and will take on the Padres in a three-game series. Here are the pitching match-ups:

Randy Wolf (1-2, 7.17 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (0-3, 4.76)

Shaun Marcum (1-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-2, 3.60 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (1-2, 6.08 ERA) vs. Cory Luebke (3-1, 2.61 ERA)

As you can see, Wolf is going tomorrow, and he’s coming off a solid start against the Astros. But he struggled for the most part in his first three starts. Anyway, despite the fact the Padres have close to no offense, Wolf has had a tough time with his former team in his career, going 6-5 with a 5.51 ERA against them. Not quite sure how he has a winning record, though.

The Pads will counter with Wieland, who was called up a few weeks ago because of an injury to Tim Stauffer. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t pitched particularly bad, but has just fallen victim to the “run support” of the Padres.

> Anyway, that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Brewers’ bullpen can’t hang on against Cards

April 9, 2012

> The Brewers had somewhat of a repeat of the first game of the season today, losing to the Cardinals 9-3. Like the first game, the Brewers’ bullpen blew up late, and didn’t give the offense much of a chance to try and catch up. Marco Estrada gave up two runs in two innings, Tim Dillard gave up a run, John Axford gave up two runs in his 2012 debut, and Kameron Loe gave up a run. In other words, every pitcher the Brewers used today gave up a run, which is never good.

Randy Wolf was on the hill for his 2012 debut, and didn’t pitch particularly bad. He went five innings while giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Wolf managed to strand a lot of St. Louis baserunners, but had to work for it, as he threw 108 pitches in just five innings.

The Cards got on the board right away in the first on Matt Holliday’s RBI double. They got another run in the fourth on a Rafael Furcal RBI single, and another in the fifth on David Freese’s RBI single. The Brewers scored in the fifth on yet another Corey Hart home run, this one a solo shot. He’s currently tied for the league lead with three home runs.

The Cardinals got two more runs on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer in the seventh. They also picked up another one in the eighth on Tyler Greene’s RBI single. The Brewers got their second run of the game in the eighth on Alex Gonzalez’s first hit (and RBI) as a Brewer, which was an RBI double. That followed Norichika Aoki’s first hit in the MLB.

The Cards tacked on three more in the ninth on Shane Robinson’s three-run blast, which pretty much put away the game. Ryan Braun hit his first home run of the year in the ninth inning, but the game was already over by then.

Oddly enough, the Brewers just couldn’t hit Lance Lynn, Chris Carpenter’s temporary rotation replacement. He went 6 2/3 innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

Then again though, the Brewers have a history of not being able to hit rookie pitchers for their lives, so this start could mean nothing, for all we know.

> I’m glad this series is over. Now theBrewers move onto a hopefully easier opponent- the Cubs. They’re playing them in Chicago, however, a venue the Brewers haven’t had much success in over recent years. Anyway, here are the pitching matchups (the statistics are from 2011):

Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (5-13, 4.89 ERA)

Chris Narveson (11-8, 4.45 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (6-14, 3.66 ERA)

Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) vs. ???

Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) vs. ???

Gallardo will probably be facing Ryan Dempster, and Greinke should be up against Matt Garza, but the Cubs haven’t officially announced it yet.

Anyway, all four of these pitchers have above-average career numbers against the Cubs, so this should be a good series for the Crew.

> And that’s about it. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.