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  • Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Late Loss Complicates Brewers Playoff Chances

    Seth Stohs

    Over the past seven to ten games, every Brewers win has been big. Every Brewers loss has been excruciating. Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the Marlins was especially rough. 

    Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Brewers Video


    Box Score
    SP: Aaron Ashby: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (65 pitches, 37 strikes (56.9%)
    Home Runs: None 
    Top 3 WPA: Luis Urias (0.247), Matt Bush (0.120), Trevor Gott (0.109) 
    Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Williams (-0.694), Willy Adames (-0.234), Tyrone Taylor (-0.147)

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    9th Inning Blown Save    
    We have to start here. It was obviously the key inning of this game, and potentially for the Brewers season. With a 3-2 lead, Craig Counsell turned again to Devin Williams, hoping for another Save. A night earlier, he finished out a save despite struggling with his control. On this night, it just didn’t happen for him. 

    After walking three in Friday night, he allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Berti. It’s never a good thing, but Berti is leading MLB in stolen bases this season. Joey Wendle pinch hit, and he struck out. But then Berti stole second, his 39th steal of the year. Williams followed it by walking Brian Anderson and then yanking a fastball straight to the backstop to put runners on second and third with one out. Bryan De La Cruz came through with a solid single to left field. Both runs would have scored anyway, but when Christian Yelich bobbled the ball, the Marlins DH on this night took second. 

    Peter Strzelecki came in and got the next two batters out. That sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. 

    The Brewers had the top of their lineup coming to bat, but Don Mattingly turned to lefty Richard Bleier who got Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez out on three quick ground out. 

    Ashby OK in Short Start    
    While Aaron Ashby is just 2-10 on the season, he has had some solid starts, and that was the hope in this game. In actuality, he pitched fairly well in this game. That said, in the third inning, with Jordan Groshans on base, Peyton Burdick hit his third career home run to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.



    A huge point of emphasis for Ashby has to be eliminating or at least minimizing his walk totals. While he only threw strikes on 57% of his pitches, he did not walk anyone. Ashby was solid, but he also got some help from his defense. 



    And 4 1/3 innings may not be exciting, but he did keep the team in the game and Counsell turned to a bullpen he has relied upon a lot this season including lately. And that bullpen did the job (until the 9th, as you already read). Trevor Gott got out all five batters he faced. Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush each tossed a three-batter inning. 

    Offense Struggles 
    In the first three innings, the Brewers lineup went one-two-three each inning. Of the nine batters, five of them struck out. Edward Cabrera, however, left the game with some arm discomfort at that point. 

    Andrew Nardi came on and Christian Yelich led off the fourth inning with a home run to the opposite field. The team struck out three more times that inning. 



    The Brewers had a big opportunity in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias started the inning with walks. Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham who struck out a pinch-hitting Victor Caratini and got a fly out by Tyrone Taylor. With two outs, Yelich walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, Willy Adames was unable to provide a two-out hit and the team went scoreless again.  

    In the sixth inning, the Brewers broke through and probably could have scored more. Jake Fishman came on to pitch and Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe started the inning with back-to-back singles. Mike Brosseau came on to pinch hit and struck out. Huascar Brazoban came in and threw a wild pitch. With runners on second and third bases, McCutchen walked. Luis Urias got a pain RBI by letting a pitch hit him (We’ve got ice!). Caratini then grounded out to second base for the inning’s second out, but Renfroe came in to score and give The Crew the lead at 3-2. There were still runners on second and third, but again, they could not get some insurance with a big, two-out hit. 

    In the seventh inning, they had two more singles, but Tanner Scott recorded three more strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Milwaukee got one single, and Tommy Nance got three more strikeouts. In the ninth inning, there were no strikeouts, but three routine groundouts. On the night, the Brewers struck out 16 times! 

    What Do You Do? 
    If you look at the WPA, it shows that Devin Williams didn't get the job done on this night. But what would you do? Williams is the closer and one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But if you look at the Bullpen Usage chart below, he has thrown a lot of pitches this week. Matt Bush didn't throw a lot of pitches in the eighth. Would you have let him pitch the ninth inning? Brad Boxberger only threw 12 pitches in the seventh inning. Maybe he could have pitched the eighth too? But then the question remains, would you pitch Bush in the ninth? Would you have considered using Taylor Rogers in the ninth? 

    The answer to all those questions is... Maybe. And maybe they would have worked on this particular night because that's how baseball works. But if any of those scenarios would have been used, and that situation would have ended in a Brewers loss, the one question that would have been asked is... Why did they not go to Devin Williams in the ninth? 

    What’s Next? 
    The Brewers will finish out this series with the Marlins before welcoming Arizona for the final three games. The Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound at the start of Sunday afternoon’s game, in an “Opener” role. Pablo Lopez will start for the Marlins.   

    Wild Card Scenarios   
    The Phillies played two games against the Nationals on Saturday. They lost the afternoon game but responded with a win in the nightcap. However, the loss meant that a Brewers win would have had the two teams tied heading into the final four games. 



    NOTE: The Padres currently lead the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Three more outs and their record will improve to 87-71. That is the record in the scenarios below. This chart will be updated when the game in San Diego goes final. 

    Remaining Games 
       Brewers: 1 at home vs Marlins, 3 at home vs Arizona 
       Phillies: 1 at home vs Nationals, 3 at Houston 
       Padres: 1 at home vs White Sox, 3 at home vs Giants 

    So the Brewers are now one game out of a playoff spot. Because of the tiebreakers, the Brewers will have to finish a game ahead of the Phillies or Padres to take a Wild Card spot.

    Philadelphia Phillies
       If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Phillies to go 2-2 (or 1-3, or 0-4). 
       If the Brewers go 3-1, they need the Phillies to go 1-3 (or 0-4). 
       If the Brewers go 2-2, they need the Phillies to go 0-4. 
       If the Brewers go 1-3 or 0-4, the Phillies go to the playoffs. 

    San Diego Padres 
       If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Padres to go 0-4.
       If the Brewers go 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4, the Padres clinch a playoff spot. 

    While the Padres are all but assured of a playoff spot, there still is hope in surpassing the Phillies. Why? They have three games in Houston. Normally, one might assume that the Astros would be resting its key players, but because the top two seeds in each league get a first-round bye, they will want to set up their pitching rotation and try to give those key players reps knowing that they will be getting at least five days off before Round 2 of the playoffs would begin. The Brewers would be greatly helped by the Astros dominating the Phillies. 

    Postgame Interviews





    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet



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