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  1. Even if the Milwaukee Brewers slipped into the playoffs, most would see 2022 as a disappointment unless they made a miraculous run to the NLCS (at least). Either way, there are a handful of free agent decisions the front office needs to make for next season. Image courtesy of © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports A vast majority of Brewers are under team control in 2023. Eighteen players are in their arbitration years, with a number in pre-arbitration. David Stearns, President of Baseball Operations, could decide to cut ties with any of those guys, but most are staying put. Stearns and GM Matt Arnold have tremendous flexibility with the roster, though, as only three players have guaranteed contracts in 2023: Christian Yelich, Freddy Peralta, and Aaron Ashby. So some critical decisions will need to be made when dealing with the Brewers' potential free agents. Four players, in particular, provide some choice from the club to determine if they offer more value to Milwaukee versus what is available on the market. With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, his performance this season doesn't warrant a discussion about his return. It hasn't worked out. With Cutch off the list, here are four potential free agents who may or may not return to Milwaukee. 4 - Jace Peterson The 32-year-old utility man has been the third-most valuable position player for the Brewers with a 2.2 fWAR. Part of that stems from Milwaukee's lack of star power in the lineup. However, despite sporadic playing time, his value also comes in quality defense in multiple spots and an ability to get on base at a solid clip. Peterson is the type of veteran player you find on winning teams. These types might not jump out at you statistically, but their importance is seen throughout the season. There will be multiple factors in choosing to bring Peterson back or not. What do the Brewers plan to do at second and third base? Will prospect Brice Turang have a major role in the big leagues in 2023? The third factor is cost. Peterson made $1.825 million on a one-year deal this season. He will undoubtedly get a bump up, but how much? Fangraphs' defensive metric ranks Peterson fourth on the club in that area, and its BsR stat for overall base running has him at the top in Milwaukee. Odds of a return: 65% 3 - Brad Boxberger Based on ERA (2.95) and ERA+ (135), Brad Boxberger is having a better overall season than he did in 2021. It might not feel that way as he has more blown saves this year, and many of his other numbers are worse. While he's giving up fewer home runs per nine innings, his WHIP is 1.309 (1.067 in 2022), with more walks, more hits, and fewer strikeouts this season. One major concern should be Boxberger's Whiff% where he went from the 85th percentile of MLB last season to the 33rd percentile in 2022. At 34 years old, you start to wonder what he has left in the tank. In each of the past two seasons, Boxberger has stretches when he looks cooked. Manager Craig Counsell relies on him as a stopper of sorts and utilizes him in a variety of innings - more so than any other reliever on the club. Boxberger is making $2.5 million this season, with a team option for a $3 million contract in 2023. The buyout for the option is just $750,000, so Milwaukee loses little to cut bait. Considering the sizable free agent reliever market each season, a $3 million tag for a potentially declining bullpen arm makes Boxberger less appealing than a year ago. But they could see the cost certainty of the club option as worthwhile gamble for one more season. Odds of a return: 48% (Chances increase if the Brewers buy him out and he is willing to re-sign for less) 2 - Omar Narvaez After an All-Star selection in 2021, Narvaez's 2022 offensive performance has dipped significantly. He is 22% below average in OPS+ (78) while hitting just .214 with a .324 slugging percentage. He clearly peaked in his age-27 season in Seattle when he slugged .460 with a 119 OPS+. Narvaez turns 31 before Opening Day 2023 and has appeared worn down in the second half of the last two years. Narvaez came over as an "offense-first" backstop with defensive concerns, but that has flipped in Milwaukee (or has it?). He ranks seventh in MLB in Baseball Savant's strike rate stat at 49.7%, which shows the percentage of non-swinging strikes called on the outside edges of the strike zone. However, Narvaez is 47th in "blocking runs," according to Baseball Prospectus. If you've watched enough games, you have witnessed Narvaez's struggle to block balls consistently. He is also 35th in caught stealing percentage (24%) among catchers with 300+ frames behind the plate. Those last two statistics argue against his supposed defensive prowess. Narvaez is making $5 million this season. Considering the constant need for catching, some team is likely willing to pay more on the free agent market. Milwaukee has 29-year-old catchers Victor Caratini and Pedro Severino under team control for next year at a lower cost. They also have prospect Mario Feliciano ready for MLB opportunities. The price per production for Narvaez looks undesirable. Odds of a return: 15% 1 - Taylor Rogers The left-handed reliever acquired in the Josh Hader trade has had a down year. After never posting an ERA+ below 128 from 2017-2021 (not counting 2020), Rogers' 86 ERA+ could be a sign of declining skill. He has also dealt with some minor injury concerns, so perhaps it's a one-off dip this season. Many of his numbers improved during his short time in Milwaukee, upping his strikeout-per-nine-inning (K/9) rate to 14.5 versus 10.5 with the San Diego Padres. His WHIP has also dropped from 1.113 to 1.091. The soon-to-be 32-year-old southpaw reliever is earning $7.3 million this season and will likely get a fair amount of interest in free agency. Though he got off to a rough start with the Brewers, Rogers owns a 3.07 ERA and has held opponents to a .180 average over his last 14.2 innings pitched. For a bullpen that needs help heading into 2023, Rogers should be in play to stay, but the length and size of the contract demands could be prohibitive. I'd like to see them make something work and have him spend time in their pitch lab, although it feels like a less than a 50/50 chance the Brewers pony up enough. Odds of a return: 40% Some may ask, "Why isn't Kolten Wong on this list?" Well, his situation requires further examination, so look for a more in-depth analysis soon. As for the rest of the Brew Crew, many expect plenty of roster turnover heading into 2023. Brewers fans should expect to learn new names and faces with a combination of trades and letting players go. If Milwaukee plans to ascend to the top of the NL Central again to fight it out with the St. Louis Cardinals, the front office needs to rediscover the right mix of who stays and who goes. View full article
  2. A vast majority of Brewers are under team control in 2023. Eighteen players are in their arbitration years, with a number in pre-arbitration. David Stearns, President of Baseball Operations, could decide to cut ties with any of those guys, but most are staying put. Stearns and GM Matt Arnold have tremendous flexibility with the roster, though, as only three players have guaranteed contracts in 2023: Christian Yelich, Freddy Peralta, and Aaron Ashby. So some critical decisions will need to be made when dealing with the Brewers' potential free agents. Four players, in particular, provide some choice from the club to determine if they offer more value to Milwaukee versus what is available on the market. With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, his performance this season doesn't warrant a discussion about his return. It hasn't worked out. With Cutch off the list, here are four potential free agents who may or may not return to Milwaukee. 4 - Jace Peterson The 32-year-old utility man has been the third-most valuable position player for the Brewers with a 2.2 fWAR. Part of that stems from Milwaukee's lack of star power in the lineup. However, despite sporadic playing time, his value also comes in quality defense in multiple spots and an ability to get on base at a solid clip. Peterson is the type of veteran player you find on winning teams. These types might not jump out at you statistically, but their importance is seen throughout the season. There will be multiple factors in choosing to bring Peterson back or not. What do the Brewers plan to do at second and third base? Will prospect Brice Turang have a major role in the big leagues in 2023? The third factor is cost. Peterson made $1.825 million on a one-year deal this season. He will undoubtedly get a bump up, but how much? Fangraphs' defensive metric ranks Peterson fourth on the club in that area, and its BsR stat for overall base running has him at the top in Milwaukee. Odds of a return: 65% 3 - Brad Boxberger Based on ERA (2.95) and ERA+ (135), Brad Boxberger is having a better overall season than he did in 2021. It might not feel that way as he has more blown saves this year, and many of his other numbers are worse. While he's giving up fewer home runs per nine innings, his WHIP is 1.309 (1.067 in 2022), with more walks, more hits, and fewer strikeouts this season. One major concern should be Boxberger's Whiff% where he went from the 85th percentile of MLB last season to the 33rd percentile in 2022. At 34 years old, you start to wonder what he has left in the tank. In each of the past two seasons, Boxberger has stretches when he looks cooked. Manager Craig Counsell relies on him as a stopper of sorts and utilizes him in a variety of innings - more so than any other reliever on the club. Boxberger is making $2.5 million this season, with a team option for a $3 million contract in 2023. The buyout for the option is just $750,000, so Milwaukee loses little to cut bait. Considering the sizable free agent reliever market each season, a $3 million tag for a potentially declining bullpen arm makes Boxberger less appealing than a year ago. But they could see the cost certainty of the club option as worthwhile gamble for one more season. Odds of a return: 48% (Chances increase if the Brewers buy him out and he is willing to re-sign for less) 2 - Omar Narvaez After an All-Star selection in 2021, Narvaez's 2022 offensive performance has dipped significantly. He is 22% below average in OPS+ (78) while hitting just .214 with a .324 slugging percentage. He clearly peaked in his age-27 season in Seattle when he slugged .460 with a 119 OPS+. Narvaez turns 31 before Opening Day 2023 and has appeared worn down in the second half of the last two years. Narvaez came over as an "offense-first" backstop with defensive concerns, but that has flipped in Milwaukee (or has it?). He ranks seventh in MLB in Baseball Savant's strike rate stat at 49.7%, which shows the percentage of non-swinging strikes called on the outside edges of the strike zone. However, Narvaez is 47th in "blocking runs," according to Baseball Prospectus. If you've watched enough games, you have witnessed Narvaez's struggle to block balls consistently. He is also 35th in caught stealing percentage (24%) among catchers with 300+ frames behind the plate. Those last two statistics argue against his supposed defensive prowess. Narvaez is making $5 million this season. Considering the constant need for catching, some team is likely willing to pay more on the free agent market. Milwaukee has 29-year-old catchers Victor Caratini and Pedro Severino under team control for next year at a lower cost. They also have prospect Mario Feliciano ready for MLB opportunities. The price per production for Narvaez looks undesirable. Odds of a return: 15% 1 - Taylor Rogers The left-handed reliever acquired in the Josh Hader trade has had a down year. After never posting an ERA+ below 128 from 2017-2021 (not counting 2020), Rogers' 86 ERA+ could be a sign of declining skill. He has also dealt with some minor injury concerns, so perhaps it's a one-off dip this season. Many of his numbers improved during his short time in Milwaukee, upping his strikeout-per-nine-inning (K/9) rate to 14.5 versus 10.5 with the San Diego Padres. His WHIP has also dropped from 1.113 to 1.091. The soon-to-be 32-year-old southpaw reliever is earning $7.3 million this season and will likely get a fair amount of interest in free agency. Though he got off to a rough start with the Brewers, Rogers owns a 3.07 ERA and has held opponents to a .180 average over his last 14.2 innings pitched. For a bullpen that needs help heading into 2023, Rogers should be in play to stay, but the length and size of the contract demands could be prohibitive. I'd like to see them make something work and have him spend time in their pitch lab, although it feels like a less than a 50/50 chance the Brewers pony up enough. Odds of a return: 40% Some may ask, "Why isn't Kolten Wong on this list?" Well, his situation requires further examination, so look for a more in-depth analysis soon. As for the rest of the Brew Crew, many expect plenty of roster turnover heading into 2023. Brewers fans should expect to learn new names and faces with a combination of trades and letting players go. If Milwaukee plans to ascend to the top of the NL Central again to fight it out with the St. Louis Cardinals, the front office needs to rediscover the right mix of who stays and who goes.
  3. Situations change quickly in the big leagues. A few weeks ago, Boston sat 10 games over .500, in second place in the AL East, and atop the wild card standings. As the new week starts, the Red Sox have lost nine of 10 contests and 13 of their last 16 to fall to 48-48, now fourth in the division, just one-half game better than the Baltimore Orioles, and three games out of the last wild card position. If Boston management sees the road to a championship too steep with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros (among others) in the way, a turn toward next season makes sense. The Red Sox have at least eight players becoming free agents after the season or with an option to leave, so they could see this as an opportunity to quickly turn things around for 2023 and beyond. This would be good news for the Brewers. More trade options could mean lesser cost and a better chance to find a quality fit for the roster. Also, targeting players with expiring contracts typically means a team will ask for less in return which could be another key for Milwaukee. With that in mind, here are a few Red Sox targets that the Brewers might ask about should Boston start a sale. STAR POWER Xander Bogaerts: The 29-year-old standout shortstop has four years, $80 million left on his contract, but he can opt out after this season (which he will do). While Bogaerts' home runs are down, he remains a stud hitter that would do wonders for the Brewers' offense. Bogaerts owns a 129 OPS+ thanks to a .386 OBP (12th in MLB) and .445 slugging. His .364 wOBA (weighted on-base average) also ranks 27th and would be the best on the Brewers. Where would he play? He could easily slot into third base, where Luis Urias has scuffled to a .701 OPS. Bogaerts could also spell Willy Adames at shortstop and take some at-bats as the DH. With a chance at a quality hitter, position matters less. The price in a trade is tough to gauge. Boston would have to expect a return based on Bogaerts leaving his new team after the season. It also matters which other teams offer deals. Would the Red Sox be interested in Keston Hiura as a project to go along with a top-10 prospect? Shortstop Brice Turang could make sense for Boston as a future infielder or utility man. Acquiring Bogaerts is probably unlikely, but with the right high-end piece or two, there is an outside chance it happens. *Rafael Devers could have been a second star to discuss, albeit an extreme longshot for the Brewers. Unfortunately, the left-handed hitting third baseman with a .981 OPS was recently put on the IL. He is signed through 2023, but if Boston has really wanted to get nuts, Devers would have been their best trade chip. PITCHING OPTIONS Nathan Eovaldi: Eovaldi looks and feels like a Brewers type of pitcher, and I can see Milwaukee's front office offering a bit more to acquire him. I'd argue a deal has an above-average chance of going down as he is a free agent after the season. The 32-year-old fireballer has had a few more struggles than in years past, mostly stemming from his 2.2 home runs per nine innings (HR/9) rate, the highest of his career. A big reason for that could be his 11.2% barrel rate allowed, which is more than four percent higher than his career average. Eovaldi is still throwing hard (95.6 MPH fastball velocity) and getting a high percentage of whiffs, up 0.8% from last season. He also ranks in the 96 percentile of walk percentage (BB%), something the Brewers should value. Though his ERA (4.30) is up more than half a run from the past two seasons, it is primarily skewed by his last start, when he allowed nine earned runs in 2.2 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. Eovaldi is still a valuable arm that can fill multiple roles for Milwaukee now and in the playoffs. Since Boston has not engaged in any contract talks with Eovaldi, there's little reason for them to keep him around. Two pitching prospects (one in the top 15-20 range) would seem enough unless the Red Sox preferred a single, higher-ceiling asset. Michael Wacha: The former St. Louis Cardinals' hurler has had a resurgent season of sorts. After posting a 6.62 ERA and 5.05 ERA the past two years, respectively, Wacha owns a 2.69 mark in 70.1 innings (13 starts) in 2022. His numbers are great on the surface, but it could be smoke and mirrors. While he dropped his hits-per-nine-inning rate (H/9) to 7.2 and HR/9 to just 0.9, his walks have increased while the strikeouts have decreased. Then when you look at his Statcast percentiles, you really start to wonder. Based on this, would the Brewers even want to take that chance? It could mean it would cost very little to make the trade (prospect outside the top 30), which is a plus. It is possible that, at least for this season, Wacha has figured something out that works. Essentially Milwaukee would be playing the hot hand. I'd say there's a less likely chance this happens than trading for Eovaldi, only because the Brewers might not like what they see. ROLE PLAYERS J.D. Martinez: The veteran "professional hitter" can't play the field or run, but he still knows how to swing the stick. The almost 35-year-old is in the last year of his deal but would have to be the full-time DH, which could be a challenge in Milwaukee. Acquiring Martinez would mean Andrew McCutchen is playing in the field or sitting more often, which might help the club in the long run. Martinez ranks in the top 30 in MLB in wOBA (.368), OBP (.368), and slugging (.481). His 132 OPS+ is his best mark since 2019, and his metrics remain high in a few key areas. There would likely be some competition to acquire Martinez, which might drive the price up somewhat. One would think a mid-level prospect would do the trick. There probably isn't a high percentage chance Milwaukee will make this move, but plans can change in two weeks. Enrique Hernandez: Also a free agent following this season, Hernandez would provide value and depth in the outfield, including in center. Unfortunately, Hernandez has not been able to get back on the field in the last month due to a right hip injury. He is currently on the IL, which doesn't prevent a move from happening, but is often rare and a big risk. It worked in Boston's favor last season when they traded for Kyle Schwarber while he was on the IL as he posted a .957 OPS in 41 games once he returned. As for Hernandez, should the Brewers take a shot, his defense remains strong, but his offense fell off this season (.613 OPS) after a strong 2021 (.786 OPS) and an incredible postseason run last year (.408 average, 1.260 OPS). Trading for Hernandez would be a bit of a risk offensively. However, his career numbers make him a weapon against left-handed pitchers, which Milwaukee still needs. Hernandez owns a lifetime .826 OPS versus southpaws, including .850 last season and .828 this year. He has also slugged .500 against lefties in 2022. His overall lack of offensive production and injury status should mean a deep discount for the Brewers, giving up next to nothing for a chance Hernandez recovers soon, gets hot, and continues to hammer lefties. He's at least a depth play for the current outfield, considering the group's age and proneness to injury.; of course, Hernandez would have to get back to the field (and stay there) himself. Brewers fans should watch the Red Sox over the next few days. If they continue to flounder or break even, it opens up more possibilities for Milwaukee to add talent. Even if the Brewers don't make a deal with Boston, having an additional seller on the market makes it more likely Milwaukee finds a player at the right price from somewhere.
  4. The Boston Red Sox are suddenly struggling in the talent-packed American League. With the trade deadline looming, their fall from legitimate playoff contention could open the door to a handful of more trade options for the Milwaukee Brewers. Situations change quickly in the big leagues. A few weeks ago, Boston sat 10 games over .500, in second place in the AL East, and atop the wild card standings. As the new week starts, the Red Sox have lost nine of 10 contests and 13 of their last 16 to fall to 48-48, now fourth in the division, just one-half game better than the Baltimore Orioles, and three games out of the last wild card position. If Boston management sees the road to a championship too steep with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros (among others) in the way, a turn toward next season makes sense. The Red Sox have at least eight players becoming free agents after the season or with an option to leave, so they could see this as an opportunity to quickly turn things around for 2023 and beyond. This would be good news for the Brewers. More trade options could mean lesser cost and a better chance to find a quality fit for the roster. Also, targeting players with expiring contracts typically means a team will ask for less in return which could be another key for Milwaukee. With that in mind, here are a few Red Sox targets that the Brewers might ask about should Boston start a sale. STAR POWER Xander Bogaerts: The 29-year-old standout shortstop has four years, $80 million left on his contract, but he can opt out after this season (which he will do). While Bogaerts' home runs are down, he remains a stud hitter that would do wonders for the Brewers' offense. Bogaerts owns a 129 OPS+ thanks to a .386 OBP (12th in MLB) and .445 slugging. His .364 wOBA (weighted on-base average) also ranks 27th and would be the best on the Brewers. Where would he play? He could easily slot into third base, where Luis Urias has scuffled to a .701 OPS. Bogaerts could also spell Willy Adames at shortstop and take some at-bats as the DH. With a chance at a quality hitter, position matters less. The price in a trade is tough to gauge. Boston would have to expect a return based on Bogaerts leaving his new team after the season. It also matters which other teams offer deals. Would the Red Sox be interested in Keston Hiura as a project to go along with a top-10 prospect? Shortstop Brice Turang could make sense for Boston as a future infielder or utility man. Acquiring Bogaerts is probably unlikely, but with the right high-end piece or two, there is an outside chance it happens. *Rafael Devers could have been a second star to discuss, albeit an extreme longshot for the Brewers. Unfortunately, the left-handed hitting third baseman with a .981 OPS was recently put on the IL. He is signed through 2023, but if Boston has really wanted to get nuts, Devers would have been their best trade chip. PITCHING OPTIONS Nathan Eovaldi: Eovaldi looks and feels like a Brewers type of pitcher, and I can see Milwaukee's front office offering a bit more to acquire him. I'd argue a deal has an above-average chance of going down as he is a free agent after the season. The 32-year-old fireballer has had a few more struggles than in years past, mostly stemming from his 2.2 home runs per nine innings (HR/9) rate, the highest of his career. A big reason for that could be his 11.2% barrel rate allowed, which is more than four percent higher than his career average. Eovaldi is still throwing hard (95.6 MPH fastball velocity) and getting a high percentage of whiffs, up 0.8% from last season. He also ranks in the 96 percentile of walk percentage (BB%), something the Brewers should value. Though his ERA (4.30) is up more than half a run from the past two seasons, it is primarily skewed by his last start, when he allowed nine earned runs in 2.2 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. Eovaldi is still a valuable arm that can fill multiple roles for Milwaukee now and in the playoffs. Since Boston has not engaged in any contract talks with Eovaldi, there's little reason for them to keep him around. Two pitching prospects (one in the top 15-20 range) would seem enough unless the Red Sox preferred a single, higher-ceiling asset. Michael Wacha: The former St. Louis Cardinals' hurler has had a resurgent season of sorts. After posting a 6.62 ERA and 5.05 ERA the past two years, respectively, Wacha owns a 2.69 mark in 70.1 innings (13 starts) in 2022. His numbers are great on the surface, but it could be smoke and mirrors. While he dropped his hits-per-nine-inning rate (H/9) to 7.2 and HR/9 to just 0.9, his walks have increased while the strikeouts have decreased. Then when you look at his Statcast percentiles, you really start to wonder. Based on this, would the Brewers even want to take that chance? It could mean it would cost very little to make the trade (prospect outside the top 30), which is a plus. It is possible that, at least for this season, Wacha has figured something out that works. Essentially Milwaukee would be playing the hot hand. I'd say there's a less likely chance this happens than trading for Eovaldi, only because the Brewers might not like what they see. ROLE PLAYERS J.D. Martinez: The veteran "professional hitter" can't play the field or run, but he still knows how to swing the stick. The almost 35-year-old is in the last year of his deal but would have to be the full-time DH, which could be a challenge in Milwaukee. Acquiring Martinez would mean Andrew McCutchen is playing in the field or sitting more often, which might help the club in the long run. Martinez ranks in the top 30 in MLB in wOBA (.368), OBP (.368), and slugging (.481). His 132 OPS+ is his best mark since 2019, and his metrics remain high in a few key areas. There would likely be some competition to acquire Martinez, which might drive the price up somewhat. One would think a mid-level prospect would do the trick. There probably isn't a high percentage chance Milwaukee will make this move, but plans can change in two weeks. Enrique Hernandez: Also a free agent following this season, Hernandez would provide value and depth in the outfield, including in center. Unfortunately, Hernandez has not been able to get back on the field in the last month due to a right hip injury. He is currently on the IL, which doesn't prevent a move from happening, but is often rare and a big risk. It worked in Boston's favor last season when they traded for Kyle Schwarber while he was on the IL as he posted a .957 OPS in 41 games once he returned. As for Hernandez, should the Brewers take a shot, his defense remains strong, but his offense fell off this season (.613 OPS) after a strong 2021 (.786 OPS) and an incredible postseason run last year (.408 average, 1.260 OPS). Trading for Hernandez would be a bit of a risk offensively. However, his career numbers make him a weapon against left-handed pitchers, which Milwaukee still needs. Hernandez owns a lifetime .826 OPS versus southpaws, including .850 last season and .828 this year. He has also slugged .500 against lefties in 2022. His overall lack of offensive production and injury status should mean a deep discount for the Brewers, giving up next to nothing for a chance Hernandez recovers soon, gets hot, and continues to hammer lefties. He's at least a depth play for the current outfield, considering the group's age and proneness to injury.; of course, Hernandez would have to get back to the field (and stay there) himself. Brewers fans should watch the Red Sox over the next few days. If they continue to flounder or break even, it opens up more possibilities for Milwaukee to add talent. Even if the Brewers don't make a deal with Boston, having an additional seller on the market makes it more likely Milwaukee finds a player at the right price from somewhere. View full article
  5. The outfield, laden with veteran bats, was supposed to be the engine that drives the Brewers offense. But one of the pistons stopped firing, and the Brew Crew is searching for solutions. See if you agree with our grades. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below. View full article
  6. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below.
  7. Game 1 -- Brewers 6, Twins 3 Box Score Game one of the series was only occasionally stalled by rain, thunder, and lightning, as the Brewers and Twins waited at times for the ground crew to pull the tarp out only to immediately take it back off the field. Three separate weather delays held the game up, but ultimately the game was able to be completed in its entirety. The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead on a two-run, opposite-field poke from Andrew McCutchen. With his early season struggles well behind him, McCutchen has put up a .941 OPS with five home runs over the last 28 days. With so many injuries to the outfield, McCutchen has been forced into action in the field more than the Brewers had likely planned, and his -.4 dWAR undoes some of his offensive value, but he's been one of the offensive anchors for the past six to eight weeks. Brewers starter Jason Alexander gave up single tallies in the second and fourth innings, while the Brewers offense was held in check by Twins starter Josh Winder through the fourth after the McCutchen home run. In the fifth inning, light-hitting Jonathan Davis slapped a single to center to score Hunter Renfroe and restore the Brewers lead at 3-2. With two outs and Davis on base, Willy Adames hit a towering home run to left that either the cameraman lost, or hasn't come down yet. Given the rain delay between his last inning, and possibly other factors, manager Craig Counsell pulled Alexander in favor of reliever Jandel Gustave who pitched a scoreless fifth inning. The Brewers stretched the lead to 6-2 on a Jace Peterson RBI single in the sixth inning. The Twins struck back for one off of recently-struggling reliever Brad Boxberger. The Brewers will have to have Boxberger get things figured out quickly with Josh Hader also running into some trouble closing games out as of late as well. With no further drama (or rain delays) on the night, the Brewers brought Hader in, and he emphatically slammed the door, striking out the side in the ninth. Gustave gets the win to bump his record to 2-0 on the season and Hader records save number 27. Game 2 -- Twins 4, Brewers 1 Box Score The Brewers offense went dormant again, providing just one run on a solo home run by Peterson. Starter Aaron Ashby went just 4 1/3 innings, with his pitch count ballooning over 100. He allowed six hits and three walks but allowed just one run in his short stint. Despite Ashby's short start and the Brewers lack of offense, the bullpen locked things down for the bulk of the afternoon, as Trevor Gott, Boxberger, and Devin Williams held the Twins in check until the ninth inning. The Brewers offense was held punchless as well, offering up just the noted solo homerun by Peterson against Twins starter Joe Ryan in the third inning. The Crew managed just four hits on the day, went 0-6 with men in scoring position, and left six men on base all told. Going into the bottom of the ninth, each of the first two Twins reached base against Brewers all-star closer Hader, and the third batter of the inning, Jose Miranda, ended it all with a monstrous three-run second deck shot. The loss drops Hader to 0-3 on the season as the Brewers left Minnesota with a split in the short two-game set.
  8. With the Crew coming off a lackluster home stand, they looked to rebound against their cross border American League rival Minnesota Twins. The lineup was bolstered with the return of Hunter Renfroe from the IL after a second extended stay for hamstring issues. Game 1 -- Brewers 6, Twins 3 Box Score Game one of the series was only occasionally stalled by rain, thunder, and lightning, as the Brewers and Twins waited at times for the ground crew to pull the tarp out only to immediately take it back off the field. Three separate weather delays held the game up, but ultimately the game was able to be completed in its entirety. The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead on a two-run, opposite-field poke from Andrew McCutchen. With his early season struggles well behind him, McCutchen has put up a .941 OPS with five home runs over the last 28 days. With so many injuries to the outfield, McCutchen has been forced into action in the field more than the Brewers had likely planned, and his -.4 dWAR undoes some of his offensive value, but he's been one of the offensive anchors for the past six to eight weeks. Brewers starter Jason Alexander gave up single tallies in the second and fourth innings, while the Brewers offense was held in check by Twins starter Josh Winder through the fourth after the McCutchen home run. In the fifth inning, light-hitting Jonathan Davis slapped a single to center to score Hunter Renfroe and restore the Brewers lead at 3-2. With two outs and Davis on base, Willy Adames hit a towering home run to left that either the cameraman lost, or hasn't come down yet. Given the rain delay between his last inning, and possibly other factors, manager Craig Counsell pulled Alexander in favor of reliever Jandel Gustave who pitched a scoreless fifth inning. The Brewers stretched the lead to 6-2 on a Jace Peterson RBI single in the sixth inning. The Twins struck back for one off of recently-struggling reliever Brad Boxberger. The Brewers will have to have Boxberger get things figured out quickly with Josh Hader also running into some trouble closing games out as of late as well. With no further drama (or rain delays) on the night, the Brewers brought Hader in, and he emphatically slammed the door, striking out the side in the ninth. Gustave gets the win to bump his record to 2-0 on the season and Hader records save number 27. Game 2 -- Twins 4, Brewers 1 Box Score The Brewers offense went dormant again, providing just one run on a solo home run by Peterson. Starter Aaron Ashby went just 4 1/3 innings, with his pitch count ballooning over 100. He allowed six hits and three walks but allowed just one run in his short stint. Despite Ashby's short start and the Brewers lack of offense, the bullpen locked things down for the bulk of the afternoon, as Trevor Gott, Boxberger, and Devin Williams held the Twins in check until the ninth inning. The Brewers offense was held punchless as well, offering up just the noted solo homerun by Peterson against Twins starter Joe Ryan in the third inning. The Crew managed just four hits on the day, went 0-6 with men in scoring position, and left six men on base all told. Going into the bottom of the ninth, each of the first two Twins reached base against Brewers all-star closer Hader, and the third batter of the inning, Jose Miranda, ended it all with a monstrous three-run second deck shot. The loss drops Hader to 0-3 on the season as the Brewers left Minnesota with a split in the short two-game set. View full article
  9. There is a considerable gap between a thing being 'factual' and that thing being 'truthful'. Facts can be deployed in the service of understanding. They can just as easily be used to disinform. This is a fact: the Milwaukee Brewers have lost eight games in a row. The Weekly Dispatch is a column on the Brewers. 'On' may do heavier lifting on some weeks than others. The response from many in the Brewers' fourth estate has been deployed before, and amounts to a series of baseball cliches. 'It's a long season,' 'Every team slumps from time to time,' 'Baseball is a difficult game,' even 'You can't win 'em all.' These are all factual, if not platitudinous statements which provide cold comfort to a suffering interested public. It is absolutely accurate that baseball teams 1) have an excruciatingly-long season, 2) go through rough stretches of play, 3) participate in one of the most difficult games ever devised and that, as of publication, 4) no team has ever gone 162-0. But these facts simply do not fit the situation, like Tom Callahan putting on a sportcoat. The Milwaukee Brewers are a team on fire, and this is not fine. As the week lurched on, I wondered when manager Craig Counsell would get himself kicked out of a contest, and it happened in about as perfunctory a manner as possible in Friday night's playing both down and dead to the woeful Washington Nationals. Granted, anyone's managerial ire will be prompted by the joint umpirical incompetence of home plate officiant Ramon De Jesus and crew chief Alfonso Marquez, but this was a team sliding out of first place, with a manager on the cusp of meeting Phil Garner's club record for wins for a week, a lineup that had been shut out three times in six games and, on more than one occasion in the last month, pulled some Mike McCarthy classic 'make the score look closer than the game really was' efforts. Was this swoon really all that surprising? Well, no: they've been blown out more than they've been the ones doing the blowing out, they've been especially pinched by the Manfred Man and do not hold a winning record against a team we can reasonably expect to be playing meaningful baseball in October. (The teams against which the Brewers have a winning record: the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates. They are .500 against the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and, after Friday night's debacle, the Nationals.) This was also a Brewers club that entered the season with nearly the same roster makeup as the one dismissed by the Atlanta Braves last fall. The Brewers' bet was contingent on two things: One, a razor-thin margin of error; the Brewers needed an all-time collective performance from its pitching staff to overcome its deficiencies at the plate and win the NL Central in '21. The Brewers would not only need it a second time, but they'd also need the pitching to hold up both in effectiveness and against injury. That has not happened for obvious reasons, and may have been a bridge too far in the first place. The Brewers also, secondly, needed franchise player Christian Yelich to return to something resembling his MVP form and better approaches up and down the lineup. They added Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe to provide protection against left-handed pitching and added pop, respectively. How is that working out? 2021 slash (pitchers excluded): .233/.317/.396, OPS+ 96 2022: .230/.306/.393, OPS+ 95 Andy Haines was, in fact, a scapegoat. Hitting coaches are only as effective as they are allowed to be, and it has been strongly suggested on background to this writer that the issue with offensive performance is flawed at the higher levels of Brewers baseball operations. (Yes, even bloggers can have sources.) Fool me once, and so on. Back to the heart of the matter: fact-truth and losing streaks. Yes, every team struggles in the course of a season. There are chapters every year that are painful to write, and more painful to read. There isn't a club in Major League Baseball that doesn't have bad body language, look lifeless or otherwise just have a series of Job-grade bad breaks. The Milwaukee Brewers have had 24 losing streaks of at least seven games in the last 30 years. Every team struggles, but not every team does this. Yes, it is true that this happened in 2011 and 2018 en route to division championships, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Final records for those clubs in the current stadium era, excluding the outliers: 2015: 68-94 2014: 82-80 2012: 83-79 2010: 77-85 2006: 75-87 2005: 81-81 2004: 67-94 2002: 56-106 2001: 68-94 There are some really, really bad teams here. There are also some interesting notes to correlate: 2002: Davey Lopes is fired and replaced by Jerry Royster. 2005: Rich Dauer and Rich Donnelly leave the Brewers coaching staff after the season. 2006: Robin Yount and Butch Wyneger leave the Brewers coaching staff after the season. 2010: Ken Macha, Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson leave the Brewers after the season. 2015: After an offseason organizational review in which Johnny Narron and Garth Iorg are dismissed, Ron Roenicke inexplicably survives and is fired about a month into the season. Craig Counsell takes over. Even after those division championship seasons, there were changes: Dale Sveum left after 2011 (presumably because he didn't get the job when Macha was fired) and Darnell Coles departed after 2018 (so, too, did Derek Johnson, but he left for the Reds courtesy a contractual loophole, not anything to do with performance.) If history is any indicator, Craig Counsell pulling a Norman Dale Friday night is a tacit concession that this clubhouse and organization are in need of a shake-up. It didn't take an eight-game stretch for David Stearns and Matt Arnold to go get Willy Adames in 2021, but going and getting a player two years in a row serves to lay bare what is only thinly-veiled now: the Brewers are leaking oil, and fans are not unjustified in not showing up to home games (15th in MLB in 2022, lagging behind top-10 attendance paces set since 2017; you can't blame the schedule, three other clubs have drawn more in 27 home games) and wondering aloud if things shouldn't change. In most other seasons and under most circumstances, I'd come down hard on the 'FIRE SO-AND-SO' crowd. The law firm of Timmons and Dawson hasn't had enough time -- or perhaps license -- to do what they can do transform the offense. Chris Hook is not to blame for the injuries to the pitching staff. The starting rotation hasn't been an outright liability, they were merely asked to do the historical for a second consecutive season. Mark Attanasio was too new and trusting an owner to pull the trigger on Doug Melvin until it was about four to six (or more!) seasons too late. Craig Counsell probably should have a few manager of the year awards and is everything one could ask for in a homegrown success story, but the reality of the matter is that, as the tenured manager in the National League with zero pennants to show for it, it's not unfair to ask if he may have lost the clubhouse in the wake of several relative successes. The coaches have changed, but the principal actors are all the same: Counsell, Arnold, Stearns, Tod Johnson, Tom Flanagan. It's not unfair to ask, based on overall performance since the gang got together in 2017, if this is the leadership team that can get the Brewers from being more than their 2020s cover band of the 2000s Oakland Athletics. Not all experts are sages. Further, it's not unfair for fans -- the ones who turn the stiles, pay bloated parking prices and even-more-bloated prices for concessions and Fanatics' and FOCO's poorly-manufactured, zero-quality-control Brewers swag -- to be vocal about expecting more from their investment, especially when the stadium has a roof so that those who travel to Milwaukee for games while paying about $5/gallon to get there. Put a dysfunctional or otherwise underperforming product on the field, and you won't get people from West Allis to show up. Why should anyone from Wausau? What is unfair is to deride critics as hitting the panic button, to deflect or attempt to disarm criticism by talking about season length or otherwise paltering by way of factual, but glib statements. Not all the critics are irrational. If losing doesn't force reevaluation, or prompt those who can to press for answers and insights, then we're all no more than wrestling marks. The difference is that we don't have an equivalent domestic alternative to MLB in the way that WWE has AEW. (Can you imagine Vince McMahon's product with Bob Manfred's antitrust exemption?) The fact is that this Brewers club is not in good shape right now. The Brewers front office made a bad bet, overvalued its roster and after five years together, the key stakeholders in baseball operations should be held to higher expectations than merely showing up for October baseball. The fact is also that this team will not be this bad for the next three months. But history suggests that, with this kind of slide, there may and should be some significant changes coming to the organization. Facts can no longer hide the truth. What's more, they shouldn't. View full article
  10. The Weekly Dispatch is a column on the Brewers. 'On' may do heavier lifting on some weeks than others. The response from many in the Brewers' fourth estate has been deployed before, and amounts to a series of baseball cliches. 'It's a long season,' 'Every team slumps from time to time,' 'Baseball is a difficult game,' even 'You can't win 'em all.' These are all factual, if not platitudinous statements which provide cold comfort to a suffering interested public. It is absolutely accurate that baseball teams 1) have an excruciatingly-long season, 2) go through rough stretches of play, 3) participate in one of the most difficult games ever devised and that, as of publication, 4) no team has ever gone 162-0. But these facts simply do not fit the situation, like Tom Callahan putting on a sportcoat. The Milwaukee Brewers are a team on fire, and this is not fine. As the week lurched on, I wondered when manager Craig Counsell would get himself kicked out of a contest, and it happened in about as perfunctory a manner as possible in Friday night's playing both down and dead to the woeful Washington Nationals. Granted, anyone's managerial ire will be prompted by the joint umpirical incompetence of home plate officiant Ramon De Jesus and crew chief Alfonso Marquez, but this was a team sliding out of first place, with a manager on the cusp of meeting Phil Garner's club record for wins for a week, a lineup that had been shut out three times in six games and, on more than one occasion in the last month, pulled some Mike McCarthy classic 'make the score look closer than the game really was' efforts. Was this swoon really all that surprising? Well, no: they've been blown out more than they've been the ones doing the blowing out, they've been especially pinched by the Manfred Man and do not hold a winning record against a team we can reasonably expect to be playing meaningful baseball in October. (The teams against which the Brewers have a winning record: the Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates. They are .500 against the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and, after Friday night's debacle, the Nationals.) This was also a Brewers club that entered the season with nearly the same roster makeup as the one dismissed by the Atlanta Braves last fall. The Brewers' bet was contingent on two things: One, a razor-thin margin of error; the Brewers needed an all-time collective performance from its pitching staff to overcome its deficiencies at the plate and win the NL Central in '21. The Brewers would not only need it a second time, but they'd also need the pitching to hold up both in effectiveness and against injury. That has not happened for obvious reasons, and may have been a bridge too far in the first place. The Brewers also, secondly, needed franchise player Christian Yelich to return to something resembling his MVP form and better approaches up and down the lineup. They added Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe to provide protection against left-handed pitching and added pop, respectively. How is that working out? 2021 slash (pitchers excluded): .233/.317/.396, OPS+ 96 2022: .230/.306/.393, OPS+ 95 Andy Haines was, in fact, a scapegoat. Hitting coaches are only as effective as they are allowed to be, and it has been strongly suggested on background to this writer that the issue with offensive performance is flawed at the higher levels of Brewers baseball operations. (Yes, even bloggers can have sources.) Fool me once, and so on. Back to the heart of the matter: fact-truth and losing streaks. Yes, every team struggles in the course of a season. There are chapters every year that are painful to write, and more painful to read. There isn't a club in Major League Baseball that doesn't have bad body language, look lifeless or otherwise just have a series of Job-grade bad breaks. The Milwaukee Brewers have had 24 losing streaks of at least seven games in the last 30 years. Every team struggles, but not every team does this. Yes, it is true that this happened in 2011 and 2018 en route to division championships, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. Final records for those clubs in the current stadium era, excluding the outliers: 2015: 68-94 2014: 82-80 2012: 83-79 2010: 77-85 2006: 75-87 2005: 81-81 2004: 67-94 2002: 56-106 2001: 68-94 There are some really, really bad teams here. There are also some interesting notes to correlate: 2002: Davey Lopes is fired and replaced by Jerry Royster. 2005: Rich Dauer and Rich Donnelly leave the Brewers coaching staff after the season. 2006: Robin Yount and Butch Wyneger leave the Brewers coaching staff after the season. 2010: Ken Macha, Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson leave the Brewers after the season. 2015: After an offseason organizational review in which Johnny Narron and Garth Iorg are dismissed, Ron Roenicke inexplicably survives and is fired about a month into the season. Craig Counsell takes over. Even after those division championship seasons, there were changes: Dale Sveum left after 2011 (presumably because he didn't get the job when Macha was fired) and Darnell Coles departed after 2018 (so, too, did Derek Johnson, but he left for the Reds courtesy a contractual loophole, not anything to do with performance.) If history is any indicator, Craig Counsell pulling a Norman Dale Friday night is a tacit concession that this clubhouse and organization are in need of a shake-up. It didn't take an eight-game stretch for David Stearns and Matt Arnold to go get Willy Adames in 2021, but going and getting a player two years in a row serves to lay bare what is only thinly-veiled now: the Brewers are leaking oil, and fans are not unjustified in not showing up to home games (15th in MLB in 2022, lagging behind top-10 attendance paces set since 2017; you can't blame the schedule, three other clubs have drawn more in 27 home games) and wondering aloud if things shouldn't change. In most other seasons and under most circumstances, I'd come down hard on the 'FIRE SO-AND-SO' crowd. The law firm of Timmons and Dawson hasn't had enough time -- or perhaps license -- to do what they can do transform the offense. Chris Hook is not to blame for the injuries to the pitching staff. The starting rotation hasn't been an outright liability, they were merely asked to do the historical for a second consecutive season. Mark Attanasio was too new and trusting an owner to pull the trigger on Doug Melvin until it was about four to six (or more!) seasons too late. Craig Counsell probably should have a few manager of the year awards and is everything one could ask for in a homegrown success story, but the reality of the matter is that, as the tenured manager in the National League with zero pennants to show for it, it's not unfair to ask if he may have lost the clubhouse in the wake of several relative successes. The coaches have changed, but the principal actors are all the same: Counsell, Arnold, Stearns, Tod Johnson, Tom Flanagan. It's not unfair to ask, based on overall performance since the gang got together in 2017, if this is the leadership team that can get the Brewers from being more than their 2020s cover band of the 2000s Oakland Athletics. Not all experts are sages. Further, it's not unfair for fans -- the ones who turn the stiles, pay bloated parking prices and even-more-bloated prices for concessions and Fanatics' and FOCO's poorly-manufactured, zero-quality-control Brewers swag -- to be vocal about expecting more from their investment, especially when the stadium has a roof so that those who travel to Milwaukee for games while paying about $5/gallon to get there. Put a dysfunctional or otherwise underperforming product on the field, and you won't get people from West Allis to show up. Why should anyone from Wausau? What is unfair is to deride critics as hitting the panic button, to deflect or attempt to disarm criticism by talking about season length or otherwise paltering by way of factual, but glib statements. Not all the critics are irrational. If losing doesn't force reevaluation, or prompt those who can to press for answers and insights, then we're all no more than wrestling marks. The difference is that we don't have an equivalent domestic alternative to MLB in the way that WWE has AEW. (Can you imagine Vince McMahon's product with Bob Manfred's antitrust exemption?) The fact is that this Brewers club is not in good shape right now. The Brewers front office made a bad bet, overvalued its roster and after five years together, the key stakeholders in baseball operations should be held to higher expectations than merely showing up for October baseball. The fact is also that this team will not be this bad for the next three months. But history suggests that, with this kind of slide, there may and should be some significant changes coming to the organization. Facts can no longer hide the truth. What's more, they shouldn't.
  11. It is no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers' offense is a source of concern for the club's World Series hopes. Perhaps the answer to a more consistent offense lies in the somewhat-neglected stolen base. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment. View full article
  12. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment.
  13. The Brewers come into a weekend set at AmFam field with the Nationals before heading out onto the road for an eleven game trip. The Brewers will send Eric Lauer, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta to the mound in the three game series as the Crew looks to extend the four game lead they currently hold over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. Game 1 -- Brewers 7, Nationals 0 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL202205200.shtml Eric Lauer tossed yet another gem, going seven strong shutout innings, striking out five, scattering five hits, and walking none. Lauer worked efficiently, using just 83 pitches to get through seven. Nationals starter Erick Fedde worked through five scoreless as well, pitching into the sixth, until the Brewers finally struck for a pair of runs. Rowdy Tellez's eighth home run of the season put the Brewers up 2-0, which would be all the lead the Crew needed. Tyrone Taylor would add his second home run of the season in the eighth inning, a three-run shot, as the Brewers put a five-spot on the board. Devin Williams and Aaron Ashby pitched the eighth and ninth innings to finish the game for Lauer, who picked up the win and pushed his record to 4-1, lowering his E.R.A to 2.16 on the season. Lauer makes a strong case each start for "ace" status. He's cut his walk rate almost in half while seeing a significant jump in strikeout rate. The Lauer/Urias for Grisham/Davies trade can and will be dissected and debated further, but in 2022, the Brewers are seeing the better end of it so far. Game 2 - Brewers 5, Nationals 1 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL202205210.shtml The Brewers looked to break through against lefty starter Patrick Corbin, while Brandon Woodruff put together a pair of solid back-to-back starts for the Crew. Woodruff delivered, going six innings and allowing just one run on five hits and no walks. Unlike yesterday's game, the Brewers did not wait long to get the offense going. On the first pitch of the bottom of the first, Andrew McCutchen put the Brewers on the board. The Brewers tallied again in the first on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Renfroe. The Nationals struck back with a solo home run by Lane Thomas in the third, but that would be all Nat's offense would muster in this contest. The Brewers would put three on the board in the fifth, first with a solo home run by Luis Urias and with two outs, a two-run single by Keston Huira. Hiura has quietly pushed his line back up to a respectable .244/.333/.444 on the season for a .778 OPS. He's still striking out at a high rate, but if he's carrying an OPS around .775 - .800, the team must be willing to live with the lack of contact. He's handling first base adequately, and if he can fill in second base from time to time and spell McCutchen at DH, there's a role on the team for his power bat. After Woodruff worked through six innings, Trevor Gott and Brad Boxberger worked the seventh and eighth inning without incident. Hoby Milner came in to start the ninth. Josh Hader recorded the last out to rack up his fifteenth save after allowing two singles and getting the second out of the inning on a tapper back to the mound. Despite the uneven results experienced in the early season, today's victory moves Woodruff's record to 5-2. Game 3 - Nationals 8, Brewers 2 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401354858 Freddy Peralta starts for the Brewers today. Mike Brosseau was given his first career MLB start at shortstop. He misplayed at least two balls and booted another, leading to multiple extra runners for Peralta early. Brosseau has done well with the bat off the bench and played a decent third base, but he looked completely out of place at short today. The Nationals tallied once in the second and third innings but seemed to be doing so on soft contact and fielding miscues. Going into the fourth, the first three batters reached base, and Peralta was pulled for what appeared to be a shoulder injury. This was later reported as "shoulder stiffness" and is concerning, so Brewer management (and fans) will wait to see what examination reveals Monday or later. The Nationals strung together seven straight base hits and scored six runs in the fourth, increasing the lead to 8-0 before Brent Suter could get out of the inning. The Brewers gave fans a brief glimmer of hope in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tyrone Taylor hit a solo home run to center. The Crew then loaded the bases with just one out. Andrew McCutchen grounded into a fielder's choice to drive in a second run, putting men on the corners with two outs, before Christian Yelich was retired to end the brief rally with a fly out to the warning track in deepest center field. The Brewers would threaten a few more times but grounded into three double plays on the day. The scoring would prove to be finished at 8-2, and the Brewers dropped the finale to the Nats and lost their starting pitcher. Peralta took the loss, dropping to 3-2 on the season. A minor bright spot on the day was Luis Perdomo pitching three quick scoreless innings in relief and soaking up some innings while hopefully proving he's capable of being a viable blowout time option for the bullpen. The Brewers take the series with the Nationals and head out on a three-city, eleven-game road trip, traveling first to San Diego. ETA: Per Lane Grindel on the post-game radio -- Freddy Peralta has been placed on 10-day IL as a precautionary measure. View full article
  14. Game 1 -- Brewers 7, Nationals 0 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL202205200.shtml Eric Lauer tossed yet another gem, going seven strong shutout innings, striking out five, scattering five hits, and walking none. Lauer worked efficiently, using just 83 pitches to get through seven. Nationals starter Erick Fedde worked through five scoreless as well, pitching into the sixth, until the Brewers finally struck for a pair of runs. Rowdy Tellez's eighth home run of the season put the Brewers up 2-0, which would be all the lead the Crew needed. Tyrone Taylor would add his second home run of the season in the eighth inning, a three-run shot, as the Brewers put a five-spot on the board. Devin Williams and Aaron Ashby pitched the eighth and ninth innings to finish the game for Lauer, who picked up the win and pushed his record to 4-1, lowering his E.R.A to 2.16 on the season. Lauer makes a strong case each start for "ace" status. He's cut his walk rate almost in half while seeing a significant jump in strikeout rate. The Lauer/Urias for Grisham/Davies trade can and will be dissected and debated further, but in 2022, the Brewers are seeing the better end of it so far. Game 2 - Brewers 5, Nationals 1 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL202205210.shtml The Brewers looked to break through against lefty starter Patrick Corbin, while Brandon Woodruff put together a pair of solid back-to-back starts for the Crew. Woodruff delivered, going six innings and allowing just one run on five hits and no walks. Unlike yesterday's game, the Brewers did not wait long to get the offense going. On the first pitch of the bottom of the first, Andrew McCutchen put the Brewers on the board. The Brewers tallied again in the first on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Renfroe. The Nationals struck back with a solo home run by Lane Thomas in the third, but that would be all Nat's offense would muster in this contest. The Brewers would put three on the board in the fifth, first with a solo home run by Luis Urias and with two outs, a two-run single by Keston Huira. Hiura has quietly pushed his line back up to a respectable .244/.333/.444 on the season for a .778 OPS. He's still striking out at a high rate, but if he's carrying an OPS around .775 - .800, the team must be willing to live with the lack of contact. He's handling first base adequately, and if he can fill in second base from time to time and spell McCutchen at DH, there's a role on the team for his power bat. After Woodruff worked through six innings, Trevor Gott and Brad Boxberger worked the seventh and eighth inning without incident. Hoby Milner came in to start the ninth. Josh Hader recorded the last out to rack up his fifteenth save after allowing two singles and getting the second out of the inning on a tapper back to the mound. Despite the uneven results experienced in the early season, today's victory moves Woodruff's record to 5-2. Game 3 - Nationals 8, Brewers 2 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401354858 Freddy Peralta starts for the Brewers today. Mike Brosseau was given his first career MLB start at shortstop. He misplayed at least two balls and booted another, leading to multiple extra runners for Peralta early. Brosseau has done well with the bat off the bench and played a decent third base, but he looked completely out of place at short today. The Nationals tallied once in the second and third innings but seemed to be doing so on soft contact and fielding miscues. Going into the fourth, the first three batters reached base, and Peralta was pulled for what appeared to be a shoulder injury. This was later reported as "shoulder stiffness" and is concerning, so Brewer management (and fans) will wait to see what examination reveals Monday or later. The Nationals strung together seven straight base hits and scored six runs in the fourth, increasing the lead to 8-0 before Brent Suter could get out of the inning. The Brewers gave fans a brief glimmer of hope in the bottom of the fifth inning. Tyrone Taylor hit a solo home run to center. The Crew then loaded the bases with just one out. Andrew McCutchen grounded into a fielder's choice to drive in a second run, putting men on the corners with two outs, before Christian Yelich was retired to end the brief rally with a fly out to the warning track in deepest center field. The Brewers would threaten a few more times but grounded into three double plays on the day. The scoring would prove to be finished at 8-2, and the Brewers dropped the finale to the Nats and lost their starting pitcher. Peralta took the loss, dropping to 3-2 on the season. A minor bright spot on the day was Luis Perdomo pitching three quick scoreless innings in relief and soaking up some innings while hopefully proving he's capable of being a viable blowout time option for the bullpen. The Brewers take the series with the Nationals and head out on a three-city, eleven-game road trip, traveling first to San Diego. ETA: Per Lane Grindel on the post-game radio -- Freddy Peralta has been placed on 10-day IL as a precautionary measure.
  15. Brewers 3, Pirates 2 W: Hoby Milner (2-0) L: Chris Stratton (0-1) S: Devin Williams (1) Rotation Continues to Give the Brewers a Chance Freddy Peralta looked like the good version of himself - surely with some help from the generous strike zone of home plate umpire Vic Carapazza - and retired eight straight Pirates from the second inning through the end of the fifth. While he started to wear down in the sixth - not unusual for pitchers after the shortened spring training - his characteristic wildness was absent as he walked no Pirates while striking out seven over six innings. He allowed only three hits, all singles. Andrew McCutchen, You Have One Job Opposing Peralta, veteran Jose Quintana used his inherent left-handedness to give Brewer hitters fits through five innings of work, striking out nine batters and walking none. The sole exception to Quintana’s dominance was McCutchen, who homered on the first pitch of the game and later sharply singled to the outfield, accounting for two of the only four Brewer hits against the left-hander. The Brewers' offense needs to kick-start itself, especially against left-handed pitching (26th in MLB with a 73 wRC+), as they’re not going to face the hapless Pirates again until the final day of June after playing Pittsburgh six times in their first 20 games. A big reason why the Brewers lead the NL Central is thanks to their 6-0 record against the Pirates. Confusing Choices Continue to Confound Right-hander Miguel Yajure replaced left-handed Quintana to start the sixth. He walked Willy Adames to start the inning, which prompted Craig Counsell to continue his baffling platoon approach with Keston Hiura (career .838 OPS vs. RHP, .587 vs. LHP). Rowdy Tellez pinch-hit for Hiura and flew out to the warning track in right-center on a 106.7 mph towering fly ball. While Tellez missed giving the Brewers a three-run lead by only a few feet, consistently starting Hiura against left-handers and replacing him the moment a righty takes the mound is using the worst of both sides of Hiura’s stat line and minimizing his ability to create a positive impact on offense. As the team struggles to string together hits and runs, it’s hard not to be increasingly frustrated with this approach. Fans too often tout reverse splits, but Hiura appears to be one of the rare cases where a batter is legitimately better when the pitcher is same-handed. In all four of Hiura’s seasons as an MLB player - including 2022 - he has posted a better OPS against right-handed pitching over 821 total plate appearances. Hiura, ignoring his other offensive issues over the years, has enough data points to indicate this is probably not an aberration and should be factored into how he is used and platooned by Counsell. It Was Bound to Happen Brad Boxberger has been one of the stalwarts of the Brewers' bullpen, keeping the team and its low-scoring nature in the game through late innings; given the razor-thin margins the Brewers offense has given their pitching staff, days like today were inevitable. Boxberger entered the game and immediately began handing Pirate hitters BOGO rifle shots: Ben Gamel with a .970 xBA single, Michael Chavis with a .630 xBA double, followed by a Jack Suwinski .400 xBA grounder that was fumbled by Adames behind second base and ruled an error. One Diego Castillo .680 xBA sac fly later, and Boxberger’s day was over, having relinquished the lead to Pittsburgh in the form of a 2-1 score. Brent Suter was called in to clean up the damage with one out and a runner on first. One weak fly to left and another to center later, he had done just that. The Dead Cat Bunt? Chris Stratton came in to close the game for the Pirates and induced a weak fly out of Lorenzo Cain, which prompted Counsell to pinch-hit Christian Yelich. Yelich squared up to bunt on the first pitch, laying a beauty toward third for a single. Wong followed with a sharp grounder past the right-side infielders, sending Yelich to second. Omar Narvaez, the second pinch-hitter of the inning, blooped a single in front of the left fielder, loading the bases. Bringing the game full circle, McCutchen walked the plate. He rifled a line drive right at Pirates' second baseman Josh VanMeter who would only put a fraction of leather on the ball at a full leap, and the Brewers once again had the lead, 3-2. Stratton regained his composure, retiring Adames and Renfroe to stop the bleeding. Hold Onto Your Butts With Josh Hader having pitched in what feels like every Brewers win this season, Counsell had to lean on Devin Williams - always a controversial figure amongst Brewers fans, particularly early in seasons - to step into the closer role. Just as every Brewers fan across the country surely predicted, Williams quickly and effectively struck out the side, and the Brewers got to catch the early flight back home. WPA Heroes: Andrew McCutchen +54.1 (3-4, 1 BB, 1 HR) Freddy Peralta +38.9 (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 7 SO) WPA Zero: Hunter Renroe -5.4 (0-5, 3 SO, 4 LoB) The Brewers head back to AmFam for a three-game set against the Northsiders. The Cubs will put the infamous TBD on the mound against Adrian Houser as the Brewers try to extend their lead in the National League Central division.
  16. The Milwaukee Brewers offense continued to struggle and nearly wasted an excellent start from Freddy Peralta; the lineup faltered for eight innings before coming up big in the ninth to snatch a victory and sweep from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Brewers 3, Pirates 2 W: Hoby Milner (2-0) L: Chris Stratton (0-1) S: Devin Williams (1) Rotation Continues to Give the Brewers a Chance Freddy Peralta looked like the good version of himself - surely with some help from the generous strike zone of home plate umpire Vic Carapazza - and retired eight straight Pirates from the second inning through the end of the fifth. While he started to wear down in the sixth - not unusual for pitchers after the shortened spring training - his characteristic wildness was absent as he walked no Pirates while striking out seven over six innings. He allowed only three hits, all singles. Andrew McCutchen, You Have One Job Opposing Peralta, veteran Jose Quintana used his inherent left-handedness to give Brewer hitters fits through five innings of work, striking out nine batters and walking none. The sole exception to Quintana’s dominance was McCutchen, who homered on the first pitch of the game and later sharply singled to the outfield, accounting for two of the only four Brewer hits against the left-hander. The Brewers' offense needs to kick-start itself, especially against left-handed pitching (26th in MLB with a 73 wRC+), as they’re not going to face the hapless Pirates again until the final day of June after playing Pittsburgh six times in their first 20 games. A big reason why the Brewers lead the NL Central is thanks to their 6-0 record against the Pirates. Confusing Choices Continue to Confound Right-hander Miguel Yajure replaced left-handed Quintana to start the sixth. He walked Willy Adames to start the inning, which prompted Craig Counsell to continue his baffling platoon approach with Keston Hiura (career .838 OPS vs. RHP, .587 vs. LHP). Rowdy Tellez pinch-hit for Hiura and flew out to the warning track in right-center on a 106.7 mph towering fly ball. While Tellez missed giving the Brewers a three-run lead by only a few feet, consistently starting Hiura against left-handers and replacing him the moment a righty takes the mound is using the worst of both sides of Hiura’s stat line and minimizing his ability to create a positive impact on offense. As the team struggles to string together hits and runs, it’s hard not to be increasingly frustrated with this approach. Fans too often tout reverse splits, but Hiura appears to be one of the rare cases where a batter is legitimately better when the pitcher is same-handed. In all four of Hiura’s seasons as an MLB player - including 2022 - he has posted a better OPS against right-handed pitching over 821 total plate appearances. Hiura, ignoring his other offensive issues over the years, has enough data points to indicate this is probably not an aberration and should be factored into how he is used and platooned by Counsell. It Was Bound to Happen Brad Boxberger has been one of the stalwarts of the Brewers' bullpen, keeping the team and its low-scoring nature in the game through late innings; given the razor-thin margins the Brewers offense has given their pitching staff, days like today were inevitable. Boxberger entered the game and immediately began handing Pirate hitters BOGO rifle shots: Ben Gamel with a .970 xBA single, Michael Chavis with a .630 xBA double, followed by a Jack Suwinski .400 xBA grounder that was fumbled by Adames behind second base and ruled an error. One Diego Castillo .680 xBA sac fly later, and Boxberger’s day was over, having relinquished the lead to Pittsburgh in the form of a 2-1 score. Brent Suter was called in to clean up the damage with one out and a runner on first. One weak fly to left and another to center later, he had done just that. The Dead Cat Bunt? Chris Stratton came in to close the game for the Pirates and induced a weak fly out of Lorenzo Cain, which prompted Counsell to pinch-hit Christian Yelich. Yelich squared up to bunt on the first pitch, laying a beauty toward third for a single. Wong followed with a sharp grounder past the right-side infielders, sending Yelich to second. Omar Narvaez, the second pinch-hitter of the inning, blooped a single in front of the left fielder, loading the bases. Bringing the game full circle, McCutchen walked the plate. He rifled a line drive right at Pirates' second baseman Josh VanMeter who would only put a fraction of leather on the ball at a full leap, and the Brewers once again had the lead, 3-2. Stratton regained his composure, retiring Adames and Renfroe to stop the bleeding. Hold Onto Your Butts With Josh Hader having pitched in what feels like every Brewers win this season, Counsell had to lean on Devin Williams - always a controversial figure amongst Brewers fans, particularly early in seasons - to step into the closer role. Just as every Brewers fan across the country surely predicted, Williams quickly and effectively struck out the side, and the Brewers got to catch the early flight back home. WPA Heroes: Andrew McCutchen +54.1 (3-4, 1 BB, 1 HR) Freddy Peralta +38.9 (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 7 SO) WPA Zero: Hunter Renroe -5.4 (0-5, 3 SO, 4 LoB) The Brewers head back to AmFam for a three-game set against the Northsiders. The Cubs will put the infamous TBD on the mound against Adrian Houser as the Brewers try to extend their lead in the National League Central division. View full article
  17. There was this really interesting time in 20th century science where scientists and philosophers enjoyed significant overlap and dialogue, specifically in conversations surrounding quantum mechanics and our ever in-transit understanding of epistemology. (For my money, Michael Polanyi is my jam.) Erwin Schrödinger enjoyed dancing on the high wire between science and philosophy, and while the cat thought experiment is the pop cultural touchpoint, it's this off-hand quip later in his piece where the famous cat experiment was born that draws my attention: There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks. We don't know which one it is unless we were there observing, and thus it is entirely possible that two things exist until one of those things is clearly observed. And yet, if we observe something directly, in spite of context, we may not know exactly what it is we are observing. It's not as simple as 'The Milwaukee Brewers offense is butt.' To be sure, it has been frustrating to watch Brewers batters over the first three-ish weeks of the 2022 season, and we've seen some echoes of 2021 carry into the present. But condemning Brewer bats to a place devoid of sunshine might be unwarranted damnation. The bad news: according to Baseball Savant after Saturday, the Brewers are league-worst in nearly every advanced offensive metric. Yet, they don't chase -- the Brewers are a full five percentage points below league average in chase rate, and when they do chase, they make contact at nearly a full percentage point above league average. They don't whiff, they're toward the middle of the pack in strikeouts according to Baseball-Reference. They don't hit a ton of balls on the ground or pop out much, they're currently behind league average per Statcast in both regards. These are good things! So, what's the deal? Their zone swing percentage lags, as does zone contact (though not by much.) They get barrels, but not solid contact (8, just over average; 5, well under average, respectively.) It has been well-documented that Andrew McCutchen goes after the first pitch, but it turns out that this is now a team-wide gambit now: nine of 13 Brewers who have seen the lineup card in 2022 are swinging at pitch 1 20% of the time (including Kolten Wong at 19.6.) Lorenzo Cain swings at first pitches more than Cutch, and by quite a bit. The Brewers are also seeing a league-average number of middle-middle pitches (meatballs), yet they swing at nearly two full percent fewer of them. They both top and get under pitches well above league average. BABIP is almost 30 points below league mean. Now, here's where the deal really gets bad: the longer Brewers hitters are in counts, the worse-off they are, which would explain the team-wide interest in swinging away at pitch one, though, with a slash of .304/.333/.348 on the first pitch overall, and swinging at it yields .202/.211/.248 and 4 XBH against 24 eventual strikeouts, perhaps enthusiasm for that approach should be tempered by a lot. Slashes and sOPS+ (OPS against league average) by count: 1-1: .348/.348/.500 116 2-1: .286/.304/.381 51 3-1: .250/.696/.750 119 Even knowing a 3-1 pitch is going to be something almost certainly hittable, the result is 14 walks and two hits, one double and one home run, and only 23 PAs have gotten to that point per Baseball Reference. Couple that with Matt Pauley's note in Saturday's pregame program on WTMJ about the Brewers' inability to hit with runners in scoring position and two out and those gaudy OBP and SLG figures in that prime hitter's count are worthless. The real ugliness: 0-2: .143/.167/.200 113 1-2: .085/.142/.169 45 2-2: .133/.130/.200 60 Full: .143/.424/.304 95 When a Brewer hitter is ahead, it's not killing pitchers. When a pitcher gets deep into the count against the Brewers, they have the advantage, and they're beginning to realize it. They're also realizing something else: Brewer batters know their zones well enough, but they don't appear to have any idea what's coming at them. They don't chase, but they're also not driving the ball or squaring it up. They're not even recognizing center-cut, eminently-driveable pitches. They've started trying to ambush first pitches, which only helps opposing pitchers by giving them more reason to throw fewer fastballs there (of the total pitches the Brewers have seen in 2022, between 29-30% have been four-seam fastballs.) This is no longer a matter just relegated to pitchers the Brewers have not seen before: it is now a problem with every pitcher they face, thus it can't just be chalked up to 'welp, it's a pitcher's game' or humidors or deadened balls or cold weather, especially when the Cardinals visited and were tagging pitches into Toyota Territory while the Brewers demonstrated warning track power. The reality of the matter is that this data, this snapshot we have right now is blurry: we don't know what this Brewers offense is actually capable of because, by looking at the metrics, it's increasingly clear they're not adequately prepared to face major league pitching. This isn't a failure of players; it's a failure of management to adjust and counter-adjust; to know their opponent. In this case, the Brewers' total organizational sellout in years past to launching the ball apparently came at the cost of pitch recognition, only to have the organization seemingly not realize that one has to recognize the right pitch in the first place to decide whether or not to launch it. In an ironic twist, the empiricists went full science and data with their pitching, full philosopher with their hitting, while choosing solopsism with regard to their counterparts across the diamond. There are reasons to think that, with even a little bit of appetite to gather better data on opposing pitchers, these numbers can start turning around. We're not seeing the Brewers strikeout at alarming rates as we did in 2019 and 2020. They're showing a willingness to take walks and spit on pitches. There's even evidence of situational hitting. There are still a lot of variables, both known and unknown and, frankly, a lot of season ahead of us. It is reasonable to suggest, though, that the Brewers will continue to struggle without a strategic recalibration from the front office in how to best put batters in a position to succeed. The evidence might be blurry, and it might be clouds. This offense may be dead. It might also be alive and we just don't know it yet. Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, Baseball Savant and some quick and crude spreadsheet development were all indispensible toward the development of this piece. Also, thanks to Erwin Schrödinger, whose poor cat has been once more mixed or smeared by the writer.
  18. It might be good, it might be bad. It might be both, "mixed or smeared out in equal parts." The Milwaukee Brewers are owners of living and/or dead bats. There was this really interesting time in 20th century science where scientists and philosophers enjoyed significant overlap and dialogue, specifically in conversations surrounding quantum mechanics and our ever in-transit understanding of epistemology. (For my money, Michael Polanyi is my jam.) Erwin Schrödinger enjoyed dancing on the high wire between science and philosophy, and while the cat thought experiment is the pop cultural touchpoint, it's this off-hand quip later in his piece where the famous cat experiment was born that draws my attention: There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks. We don't know which one it is unless we were there observing, and thus it is entirely possible that two things exist until one of those things is clearly observed. And yet, if we observe something directly, in spite of context, we may not know exactly what it is we are observing. It's not as simple as 'The Milwaukee Brewers offense is butt.' To be sure, it has been frustrating to watch Brewers batters over the first three-ish weeks of the 2022 season, and we've seen some echoes of 2021 carry into the present. But condemning Brewer bats to a place devoid of sunshine might be unwarranted damnation. The bad news: according to Baseball Savant after Saturday, the Brewers are league-worst in nearly every advanced offensive metric. Yet, they don't chase -- the Brewers are a full five percentage points below league average in chase rate, and when they do chase, they make contact at nearly a full percentage point above league average. They don't whiff, they're toward the middle of the pack in strikeouts according to Baseball-Reference. They don't hit a ton of balls on the ground or pop out much, they're currently behind league average per Statcast in both regards. These are good things! So, what's the deal? Their zone swing percentage lags, as does zone contact (though not by much.) They get barrels, but not solid contact (8, just over average; 5, well under average, respectively.) It has been well-documented that Andrew McCutchen goes after the first pitch, but it turns out that this is now a team-wide gambit now: nine of 13 Brewers who have seen the lineup card in 2022 are swinging at pitch 1 20% of the time (including Kolten Wong at 19.6.) Lorenzo Cain swings at first pitches more than Cutch, and by quite a bit. The Brewers are also seeing a league-average number of middle-middle pitches (meatballs), yet they swing at nearly two full percent fewer of them. They both top and get under pitches well above league average. BABIP is almost 30 points below league mean. Now, here's where the deal really gets bad: the longer Brewers hitters are in counts, the worse-off they are, which would explain the team-wide interest in swinging away at pitch one, though, with a slash of .304/.333/.348 on the first pitch overall, and swinging at it yields .202/.211/.248 and 4 XBH against 24 eventual strikeouts, perhaps enthusiasm for that approach should be tempered by a lot. Slashes and sOPS+ (OPS against league average) by count: 1-1: .348/.348/.500 116 2-1: .286/.304/.381 51 3-1: .250/.696/.750 119 Even knowing a 3-1 pitch is going to be something almost certainly hittable, the result is 14 walks and two hits, one double and one home run, and only 23 PAs have gotten to that point per Baseball Reference. Couple that with Matt Pauley's note in Saturday's pregame program on WTMJ about the Brewers' inability to hit with runners in scoring position and two out and those gaudy OBP and SLG figures in that prime hitter's count are worthless. The real ugliness: 0-2: .143/.167/.200 113 1-2: .085/.142/.169 45 2-2: .133/.130/.200 60 Full: .143/.424/.304 95 When a Brewer hitter is ahead, it's not killing pitchers. When a pitcher gets deep into the count against the Brewers, they have the advantage, and they're beginning to realize it. They're also realizing something else: Brewer batters know their zones well enough, but they don't appear to have any idea what's coming at them. They don't chase, but they're also not driving the ball or squaring it up. They're not even recognizing center-cut, eminently-driveable pitches. They've started trying to ambush first pitches, which only helps opposing pitchers by giving them more reason to throw fewer fastballs there (of the total pitches the Brewers have seen in 2022, between 29-30% have been four-seam fastballs.) This is no longer a matter just relegated to pitchers the Brewers have not seen before: it is now a problem with every pitcher they face, thus it can't just be chalked up to 'welp, it's a pitcher's game' or humidors or deadened balls or cold weather, especially when the Cardinals visited and were tagging pitches into Toyota Territory while the Brewers demonstrated warning track power. The reality of the matter is that this data, this snapshot we have right now is blurry: we don't know what this Brewers offense is actually capable of because, by looking at the metrics, it's increasingly clear they're not adequately prepared to face major league pitching. This isn't a failure of players; it's a failure of management to adjust and counter-adjust; to know their opponent. In this case, the Brewers' total organizational sellout in years past to launching the ball apparently came at the cost of pitch recognition, only to have the organization seemingly not realize that one has to recognize the right pitch in the first place to decide whether or not to launch it. In an ironic twist, the empiricists went full science and data with their pitching, full philosopher with their hitting, while choosing solopsism with regard to their counterparts across the diamond. There are reasons to think that, with even a little bit of appetite to gather better data on opposing pitchers, these numbers can start turning around. We're not seeing the Brewers strikeout at alarming rates as we did in 2019 and 2020. They're showing a willingness to take walks and spit on pitches. There's even evidence of situational hitting. There are still a lot of variables, both known and unknown and, frankly, a lot of season ahead of us. It is reasonable to suggest, though, that the Brewers will continue to struggle without a strategic recalibration from the front office in how to best put batters in a position to succeed. The evidence might be blurry, and it might be clouds. This offense may be dead. It might also be alive and we just don't know it yet. Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, Baseball Savant and some quick and crude spreadsheet development were all indispensible toward the development of this piece. Also, thanks to Erwin Schrödinger, whose poor cat has been once more mixed or smeared by the writer. View full article
  19. Milwaukee Brewers' pitchers hit Willson Contreras twice during baseball’s opening weekend, prompting the Chicago Cubs to retaliate. It is another chapter in the book of Contreras where hit-by-pitches are part of his game, but they make him angry. There is nothing inherently wrong with a baseball player willing to take pitches off his body to earn a free pass to first. However, when that is a regular strategy he employs, he forfeits the opportunity to complain except for rare circumstances. As has happened in previous seasons, Brewers’ pitchers plunked Contreras multiple times already this year. That was enough for Contreras and the Cubs. In the 8th inning of a 9-0 game, Keegan Thompson threw two pitches targeted for Andrew McCutchen, with the second hitting him flush. It was clearly an intentional message that many with the Brewers believed came from Contreras himself. Watch how Contreras puts his mask back down when things get heated – like he was expecting to get punched. Starting off a hitter with an outside pitch, especially anything that has movement away from the batter, is dangerous and cowardly when you plan to throw at the hitter. That initial delivery can get the batter leaning more toward the plate anticipating more pitches outside. If that pitcher then fires a fastball inside, it’s tougher for the hitter to protect himself, particularly if it’s near his head. These types of incidents go away quickly when players police themselves. The issue drags on when guys do things the wrong way and create more animosity in a back-and-forth battle. Milwaukee and Chicago will see each other 16 more times in 2022; this isn’t the last you’ll hear about possible shenanigans. The odds are excellent that Contreras will be hit at least one more time this season; how the Cubs react will indicate what they have learned. View full article
  20. There is nothing inherently wrong with a baseball player willing to take pitches off his body to earn a free pass to first. However, when that is a regular strategy he employs, he forfeits the opportunity to complain except for rare circumstances. As has happened in previous seasons, Brewers’ pitchers plunked Contreras multiple times already this year. That was enough for Contreras and the Cubs. In the 8th inning of a 9-0 game, Keegan Thompson threw two pitches targeted for Andrew McCutchen, with the second hitting him flush. It was clearly an intentional message that many with the Brewers believed came from Contreras himself. Watch how Contreras puts his mask back down when things get heated – like he was expecting to get punched. Starting off a hitter with an outside pitch, especially anything that has movement away from the batter, is dangerous and cowardly when you plan to throw at the hitter. That initial delivery can get the batter leaning more toward the plate anticipating more pitches outside. If that pitcher then fires a fastball inside, it’s tougher for the hitter to protect himself, particularly if it’s near his head. These types of incidents go away quickly when players police themselves. The issue drags on when guys do things the wrong way and create more animosity in a back-and-forth battle. Milwaukee and Chicago will see each other 16 more times in 2022; this isn’t the last you’ll hear about possible shenanigans. The odds are excellent that Contreras will be hit at least one more time this season; how the Cubs react will indicate what they have learned.
  21. Box Score SP: Corbin Burnes: 5.0 IP,4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (83 pitches, 48 strikes (57.8%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Cousins (-0.255), Kolten Wong (-0.155), Corbin Burnes (-0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Bases on Balls for Burnes? The 2021 season went remarkably well for Corbin Burnes. He became an All-Star for the first time, and after the season was named the National League’s Cy Young winner. Burnes began the 2021 season by striking out 58 batters before issuing his first walk on May 13th. Pretty remarkable. On Thursday afternoon, Burnes had a walk in the first inning and another one in the second inning without recording a strikeout. Then came the third inning. Burnes struck out the side and looked dominant as ever. He was strong in the fourth inning too. However, after the Brewers gave him a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, Burnes gave up two singles to start the inning. The Cubs scored on a sacrifice fly by Patrick Wisdom. It was followed by a two-run homer from Nico Hoerner. He got a second out, but then he walked a third batter before getting a pop up to end the inning. What to make of it? Well, nothing. It’s one game. Burnes clearly was not as sharp as he has been, and obviously will be. Old Guys Can Still Play 35-year-old Andrew McCutchen has hit well against the Brewers. Over 159 career games against Milwaukee, he has hit .275/.349/.520 (.869) with 34 doubles and 36 home runs. That’s pretty good. On Thursday, he made his Brewers debut. He recorded the first hit of the season for the team, a double down the right-field line at 98 mph. In his next at-bat, he singled at 97 mph. He actually got out the third time, but he hit a 105 mph liner. He went 2-for-5 in the game. Lorenzo Cain, who turned 36 next week, had a 105 mph double, and he also hit a sacrifice fly that left the Brewers down just one run. STARTED OUT WELL The Brewers got their leadoff hitter on every inning between the 2nd inning and the 8th inning, seven straight innings. However, they were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. What’s Next? The Brewers remain in Chicago for their second of four afternoon games in this series. Brandon Woodruff will be on the mound for the Brewers. The Cubs will send Justin Steele to oppose him. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Ashby 0 0 0 0 41 41 Boxberger 0 0 0 0 27 27 Cousins 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gott 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gustave 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hader 0 0 0 0 0 0 Milner 0 0 0 0 0 0 Suter 0 0 0 0 0 0 Urena 0 0 0 0 0 0 Williams 0 0 0 0 0 0
  22. Corbin Burnes wasn’t in midseason form on Opening Day (as you would expect), and the Brewers were unable to come up with enough big hits and fell to the Cubs on Opening Day. Box Score SP: Corbin Burnes: 5.0 IP,4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (83 pitches, 48 strikes (57.8%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Jake Cousins (-0.255), Kolten Wong (-0.155), Corbin Burnes (-0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Bases on Balls for Burnes? The 2021 season went remarkably well for Corbin Burnes. He became an All-Star for the first time, and after the season was named the National League’s Cy Young winner. Burnes began the 2021 season by striking out 58 batters before issuing his first walk on May 13th. Pretty remarkable. On Thursday afternoon, Burnes had a walk in the first inning and another one in the second inning without recording a strikeout. Then came the third inning. Burnes struck out the side and looked dominant as ever. He was strong in the fourth inning too. However, after the Brewers gave him a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, Burnes gave up two singles to start the inning. The Cubs scored on a sacrifice fly by Patrick Wisdom. It was followed by a two-run homer from Nico Hoerner. He got a second out, but then he walked a third batter before getting a pop up to end the inning. What to make of it? Well, nothing. It’s one game. Burnes clearly was not as sharp as he has been, and obviously will be. Old Guys Can Still Play 35-year-old Andrew McCutchen has hit well against the Brewers. Over 159 career games against Milwaukee, he has hit .275/.349/.520 (.869) with 34 doubles and 36 home runs. That’s pretty good. On Thursday, he made his Brewers debut. He recorded the first hit of the season for the team, a double down the right-field line at 98 mph. In his next at-bat, he singled at 97 mph. He actually got out the third time, but he hit a 105 mph liner. He went 2-for-5 in the game. Lorenzo Cain, who turned 36 next week, had a 105 mph double, and he also hit a sacrifice fly that left the Brewers down just one run. STARTED OUT WELL The Brewers got their leadoff hitter on every inning between the 2nd inning and the 8th inning, seven straight innings. However, they were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. What’s Next? The Brewers remain in Chicago for their second of four afternoon games in this series. Brandon Woodruff will be on the mound for the Brewers. The Cubs will send Justin Steele to oppose him. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Ashby 0 0 0 0 41 41 Boxberger 0 0 0 0 27 27 Cousins 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gott 0 0 0 0 0 0 Gustave 0 0 0 0 0 0 Hader 0 0 0 0 0 0 Milner 0 0 0 0 0 0 Suter 0 0 0 0 0 0 Urena 0 0 0 0 0 0 Williams 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  23. Despite historic pitching of their own and improved defense, the offense was bad enough that Milwaukee was dumped from the playoffs in just four games. It wasn’t really “the offense” that was the issue; lackluster production against left-handed pitching was a more specific problem. Have Stearns and GM Matt Arnold done enough through a couple of under-the-radar trades and one curious free agent signing? In 2021, Milwaukee’s struggles against southpaw hurlers were well documented. Considering some of their best-perceived hitters swung from the left side – such as Christian Yelich, Omar Narvaez, and Wong – it wasn’t a big surprise to see lower numbers against lefties, even with a few right-handed bats in the mix. A quick look at how the 2021 Brewers fared against left-handed pitchers reveals the rather ugly picture: You can always dig further into the numbers, but wOBA is a quality “catch-all” for hitters, and OPS tends to be reliable for a snapshot of a hitter’s production. At first glance, you might think, “Well, the Brewers weren’t special against right-handed pitchers, either.” That’s somewhat fair, but two areas tell more of the story. The Brewers’ .706 OPS versus lefties was 10th in the NL (out of 15 teams); however, they were 26 points behind the 9th-ranked Atlanta Braves, who owned a .732 OPS. Adding that context, you can see how far behind the Brewers were when facing left-handers. Even their .308 wOBA was seven points back of the next-best club. Another reason the Brewers’ righty and lefty numbers don’t seem too dissimilar comes down to Willy Adames. The shortstop sparked Milwaukee’s offense when he came over in the May 21 trade (for the most part). In 2021, Adames did far more damage against right-handers (.358 wOBA, .838 OPS) than he did versus lefties (.330 wOBA, .771 OPS). Adames’ production against righties bolstered the Brewers’ abysmal April and May numbers into respectable numbers the rest of the season, but did little against lefties. This sets the stage for the Brewers’ offseason moves and their plans to better handle left-handed pitching in 2022. If we are to trust the career success of a handful of newcomers versus southpaws, Milwaukee could turn from meek to mashers in one year. Andrew McCutchen What initially seemed like a curious free agent signing, the one-year contract deal made more sense when considering his splits. Though Andrew McCutchen will mostly fill the DH role - and may be limited against righties - he has destroyed southpaws in his career: Hunter Renfroe Seen as a replacement for Avisail Garcia, many were happy to see Bradley, Jr.’s contract off the books in the trade for Hunter Renfroe. The former Red Sox right fielder improved his production against righties in 2021 as well, but his value goes up when he has the platoon advantage. Throughout his career, Renfroe has upped his game versus left-handers: Mike Brosseau On November 13, the Brewers acquired Mike Brosseau in an under-the-radar trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Brosseau may be best known for his go-ahead, 8th inning home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 5 of the 2020 NLDS. The versatile infielder should see time at first and third base in Milwaukee, especially against left-handers. His career line versus lefties: The newcomers give manager Craig Counsell matchup advantages in the starting lineup and with late-game changes. A handful of returning Brewers have solid numbers against southpaws in their careers, too. Guys like Yelich (.359 wOBA, 848 OPS) and Lorenzo Cain (.355 wOBA, .829 OPS) have had success versus lefties, despite struggling last season. Luis Urias has also produced a .355 wOBA and .834 OPS. Now the Brewers need him to be healthy. Depending on the day, the Brewers could have a starting lineup featuring six players with an .825+ OPS (in bold) against left-handers: Cain CF McCutchen DH Yelich LF Renfroe RF Adames SS Urias 3B Brosseau 1B Severino C Wong 2B It may not look like a "Murderers Row" on the surface, but this lineup is balanced, relentless versus lefties, and wouldn't have a major hole in the order. Even Pedro Severino, likely the backup catcher, had had an OPS over .800 against left-handers in 2019 and 2021, the two seasons in his career when he had 150+ plate appearances. At least on paper, it looks like Stearns and Arnold have found a way to strengthen one of the Brewers' most significant weaknesses.
  24. When Milwaukee Brewers President of Baseball Operations David Stearns looks to build a roster, he targets cost-effective ways to eliminate weaknesses on the club. Before the 2021 season, Stearns shored up the defense by acquiring Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley, Jr. The focus for this past offseason has centered on improving production against left-handed pitchers, an area the Brewers floundered in all of last season. Despite historic pitching of their own and improved defense, the offense was bad enough that Milwaukee was dumped from the playoffs in just four games. It wasn’t really “the offense” that was the issue; lackluster production against left-handed pitching was a more specific problem. Have Stearns and GM Matt Arnold done enough through a couple of under-the-radar trades and one curious free agent signing? In 2021, Milwaukee’s struggles against southpaw hurlers were well documented. Considering some of their best-perceived hitters swung from the left side – such as Christian Yelich, Omar Narvaez, and Wong – it wasn’t a big surprise to see lower numbers against lefties, even with a few right-handed bats in the mix. A quick look at how the 2021 Brewers fared against left-handed pitchers reveals the rather ugly picture: You can always dig further into the numbers, but wOBA is a quality “catch-all” for hitters, and OPS tends to be reliable for a snapshot of a hitter’s production. At first glance, you might think, “Well, the Brewers weren’t special against right-handed pitchers, either.” That’s somewhat fair, but two areas tell more of the story. The Brewers’ .706 OPS versus lefties was 10th in the NL (out of 15 teams); however, they were 26 points behind the 9th-ranked Atlanta Braves, who owned a .732 OPS. Adding that context, you can see how far behind the Brewers were when facing left-handers. Even their .308 wOBA was seven points back of the next-best club. Another reason the Brewers’ righty and lefty numbers don’t seem too dissimilar comes down to Willy Adames. The shortstop sparked Milwaukee’s offense when he came over in the May 21 trade (for the most part). In 2021, Adames did far more damage against right-handers (.358 wOBA, .838 OPS) than he did versus lefties (.330 wOBA, .771 OPS). Adames’ production against righties bolstered the Brewers’ abysmal April and May numbers into respectable numbers the rest of the season, but did little against lefties. This sets the stage for the Brewers’ offseason moves and their plans to better handle left-handed pitching in 2022. If we are to trust the career success of a handful of newcomers versus southpaws, Milwaukee could turn from meek to mashers in one year. Andrew McCutchen What initially seemed like a curious free agent signing, the one-year contract deal made more sense when considering his splits. Though Andrew McCutchen will mostly fill the DH role - and may be limited against righties - he has destroyed southpaws in his career: Hunter Renfroe Seen as a replacement for Avisail Garcia, many were happy to see Bradley, Jr.’s contract off the books in the trade for Hunter Renfroe. The former Red Sox right fielder improved his production against righties in 2021 as well, but his value goes up when he has the platoon advantage. Throughout his career, Renfroe has upped his game versus left-handers: Mike Brosseau On November 13, the Brewers acquired Mike Brosseau in an under-the-radar trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Brosseau may be best known for his go-ahead, 8th inning home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 5 of the 2020 NLDS. The versatile infielder should see time at first and third base in Milwaukee, especially against left-handers. His career line versus lefties: The newcomers give manager Craig Counsell matchup advantages in the starting lineup and with late-game changes. A handful of returning Brewers have solid numbers against southpaws in their careers, too. Guys like Yelich (.359 wOBA, 848 OPS) and Lorenzo Cain (.355 wOBA, .829 OPS) have had success versus lefties, despite struggling last season. Luis Urias has also produced a .355 wOBA and .834 OPS. Now the Brewers need him to be healthy. Depending on the day, the Brewers could have a starting lineup featuring six players with an .825+ OPS (in bold) against left-handers: Cain CF McCutchen DH Yelich LF Renfroe RF Adames SS Urias 3B Brosseau 1B Severino C Wong 2B It may not look like a "Murderers Row" on the surface, but this lineup is balanced, relentless versus lefties, and wouldn't have a major hole in the order. Even Pedro Severino, likely the backup catcher, had had an OPS over .800 against left-handers in 2019 and 2021, the two seasons in his career when he had 150+ plate appearances. At least on paper, it looks like Stearns and Arnold have found a way to strengthen one of the Brewers' most significant weaknesses. View full article
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