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  1. Box Score SP: Brandon Woodruff: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 64 strikes (64.0%) Home Runs: Christian Yelich (14), Hunter Renfroe (29) Top 3 WPA: Victor Caratini (0.334), Willy Adames (0.307), Christian Yelich (0.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Another Close-And-Late Game For the second straight game, the Brewers needed extra innings. After using most of their bullpen in Sunday's 12-inning loss to the Marlins, they needed a 10th inning to decide this one. Fortunately, Brandon Woodruff was able to get through six innings on 100 pitches. In the third frame, he gave up a solo homer to Cooper Hummel. In the fifth inning, a Sergio Alcantara sacrifice fly scored Corbin Carroll. Sure, it would have been great to see Woodruff get through another inning or two, but overall, he had a nice start. Unfortunately, when he left, Hoby Milner, who has been a fantastic story in 2022, came on and gave up a two-run homer to Alcantara to give Arizona a 4-1 lead. Christian Yelich came through in the second inning with a leadoff homer. However, fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Brewers haven't scored any more runs. A glance at the scoreboard showed that they were losing and the Phillies were winning and giving up certainly could have been an option. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Renfroe is Clutch Again Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a mammoth home run to center off of All Star Joe Mantiply. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Christian Yelich reached on an infield single. One batter later, Kolten Wong walked. Rowdy Tellez grounded out to first base to push Yelich and Wong to second and third, respectively. Victor Caratini came up and hit a line drive right at first baseman Christian Walker. The ball somehow went right through him, and the ball trickled far enough to allow both runners scored to tie the game and send it to extra innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Daulton Varsho Comes Home Cooper Hummel was the Manfred Man, starting the top of the 10th inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Hummel to third, Daulton Varsho singled to right-center to push in the go-ahead run for the Diamondbacks. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Varsho is the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho who was named after former Phillie Darren Daulton. He was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, as you may have heard a time or 23 during the broadcast. He attended the University of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and became the 2nd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017. In his third MLB season, Varsho has had a terrific season. On this night, however, that he gave Arizona the lead may have only brought joy to a small section of Marshfield. The Brewers now needed to score on in the bottom of the 10th inning to tie it. Adames, Renfroe Play Hero Jace Peterson was placed on second base to start the inning. Omar Narvaez then walked. With runners on first and second, Willy Adames singled to right to drive in Peterson and tie the game. Almost as important, with nobody out, Narvaez was able to advance to third base. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Hunter Renfroe came up and again came through. He dropped a single into left field, Narvaez scored, and the Brewers kept their playoff hopes alive. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== For about Five Minutes... Down in Houston, the Phillies finished a 3-0 shutout of the Astros to officially clinch a Wild Card spot and eliminate the Brewers. What’s Next? With the final two games now having no playoff implications, it will be interesting to see how the Brewers and the Diamondbacks adjust their lineups and pitching decisions. For instance, does it make sense to have Corbin Burnes make one more start, or just ensure he goes into the offseason healthy? The same can be said about Arizona's Zac Gallen. Do you think the Brewers might announce some roster moves, maybe calling up someone like Brewer Fanatic Minor League Hitter of the Year Sal Frelick, or adding a couple of pitchers from Nashville so as not to burn out a bullpen that has been used a lot in recent games. Here are the remaining pitching matchups: Tuesday at 6:10: Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.83 ERA) vs Zac Gallen (12-3, 2.46 ERA) Wednesday at 3:10: Corbin Burnes (12-8, 2.98 ERA) vs Merrill Kelly (13-8, 3.43 ERA) data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Postgame Interviews data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  2. The Brewers kept fighting, clinging on to the smallest glimmer of hope heading into the final series of the season. They mounted a big, ninth-inning comeback. They fell behind in the tenth, but came back and got a big win, keeping their playoff chances alive. Minutes later, they were eliminated from playoff contention. Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Brandon Woodruff: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 64 strikes (64.0%) Home Runs: Christian Yelich (14), Hunter Renfroe (29) Top 3 WPA: Victor Caratini (0.334), Willy Adames (0.307), Christian Yelich (0.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Another Close-And-Late Game For the second straight game, the Brewers needed extra innings. After using most of their bullpen in Sunday's 12-inning loss to the Marlins, they needed a 10th inning to decide this one. Fortunately, Brandon Woodruff was able to get through six innings on 100 pitches. In the third frame, he gave up a solo homer to Cooper Hummel. In the fifth inning, a Sergio Alcantara sacrifice fly scored Corbin Carroll. Sure, it would have been great to see Woodruff get through another inning or two, but overall, he had a nice start. Unfortunately, when he left, Hoby Milner, who has been a fantastic story in 2022, came on and gave up a two-run homer to Alcantara to give Arizona a 4-1 lead. Christian Yelich came through in the second inning with a leadoff homer. However, fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Brewers haven't scored any more runs. A glance at the scoreboard showed that they were losing and the Phillies were winning and giving up certainly could have been an option. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Renfroe is Clutch Again Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a mammoth home run to center off of All Star Joe Mantiply. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Christian Yelich reached on an infield single. One batter later, Kolten Wong walked. Rowdy Tellez grounded out to first base to push Yelich and Wong to second and third, respectively. Victor Caratini came up and hit a line drive right at first baseman Christian Walker. The ball somehow went right through him, and the ball trickled far enough to allow both runners scored to tie the game and send it to extra innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Daulton Varsho Comes Home Cooper Hummel was the Manfred Man, starting the top of the 10th inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Hummel to third, Daulton Varsho singled to right-center to push in the go-ahead run for the Diamondbacks. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Varsho is the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho who was named after former Phillie Darren Daulton. He was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, as you may have heard a time or 23 during the broadcast. He attended the University of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and became the 2nd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017. In his third MLB season, Varsho has had a terrific season. On this night, however, that he gave Arizona the lead may have only brought joy to a small section of Marshfield. The Brewers now needed to score on in the bottom of the 10th inning to tie it. Adames, Renfroe Play Hero Jace Peterson was placed on second base to start the inning. Omar Narvaez then walked. With runners on first and second, Willy Adames singled to right to drive in Peterson and tie the game. Almost as important, with nobody out, Narvaez was able to advance to third base. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Hunter Renfroe came up and again came through. He dropped a single into left field, Narvaez scored, and the Brewers kept their playoff hopes alive. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== For about Five Minutes... Down in Houston, the Phillies finished a 3-0 shutout of the Astros to officially clinch a Wild Card spot and eliminate the Brewers. What’s Next? With the final two games now having no playoff implications, it will be interesting to see how the Brewers and the Diamondbacks adjust their lineups and pitching decisions. For instance, does it make sense to have Corbin Burnes make one more start, or just ensure he goes into the offseason healthy? The same can be said about Arizona's Zac Gallen. Do you think the Brewers might announce some roster moves, maybe calling up someone like Brewer Fanatic Minor League Hitter of the Year Sal Frelick, or adding a couple of pitchers from Nashville so as not to burn out a bullpen that has been used a lot in recent games. Here are the remaining pitching matchups: Tuesday at 6:10: Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.83 ERA) vs Zac Gallen (12-3, 2.46 ERA) Wednesday at 3:10: Corbin Burnes (12-8, 2.98 ERA) vs Merrill Kelly (13-8, 3.43 ERA) data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Postgame Interviews data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  3. Box Score SP: Aaron Ashby: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (65 pitches, 37 strikes (56.9%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Luis Urias (0.247), Matt Bush (0.120), Trevor Gott (0.109) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Williams (-0.694), Willy Adames (-0.234), Tyrone Taylor (-0.147) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) 9th Inning Blown Save We have to start here. It was obviously the key inning of this game, and potentially for the Brewers season. With a 3-2 lead, Craig Counsell turned again to Devin Williams, hoping for another Save. A night earlier, he finished out a save despite struggling with his control. On this night, it just didn’t happen for him. After walking three in Friday night, he allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Berti. It’s never a good thing, but Berti is leading MLB in stolen bases this season. Joey Wendle pinch hit, and he struck out. But then Berti stole second, his 39th steal of the year. Williams followed it by walking Brian Anderson and then yanking a fastball straight to the backstop to put runners on second and third with one out. Bryan De La Cruz came through with a solid single to left field. Both runs would have scored anyway, but when Christian Yelich bobbled the ball, the Marlins DH on this night took second. Peter Strzelecki came in and got the next two batters out. That sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers had the top of their lineup coming to bat, but Don Mattingly turned to lefty Richard Bleier who got Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez out on three quick ground out. Ashby OK in Short Start While Aaron Ashby is just 2-10 on the season, he has had some solid starts, and that was the hope in this game. In actuality, he pitched fairly well in this game. That said, in the third inning, with Jordan Groshans on base, Peyton Burdick hit his third career home run to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. A huge point of emphasis for Ashby has to be eliminating or at least minimizing his walk totals. While he only threw strikes on 57% of his pitches, he did not walk anyone. Ashby was solid, but he also got some help from his defense. And 4 1/3 innings may not be exciting, but he did keep the team in the game and Counsell turned to a bullpen he has relied upon a lot this season including lately. And that bullpen did the job (until the 9th, as you already read). Trevor Gott got out all five batters he faced. Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush each tossed a three-batter inning. Offense Struggles In the first three innings, the Brewers lineup went one-two-three each inning. Of the nine batters, five of them struck out. Edward Cabrera, however, left the game with some arm discomfort at that point. Andrew Nardi came on and Christian Yelich led off the fourth inning with a home run to the opposite field. The team struck out three more times that inning. The Brewers had a big opportunity in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias started the inning with walks. Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham who struck out a pinch-hitting Victor Caratini and got a fly out by Tyrone Taylor. With two outs, Yelich walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, Willy Adames was unable to provide a two-out hit and the team went scoreless again. In the sixth inning, the Brewers broke through and probably could have scored more. Jake Fishman came on to pitch and Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe started the inning with back-to-back singles. Mike Brosseau came on to pinch hit and struck out. Huascar Brazoban came in and threw a wild pitch. With runners on second and third bases, McCutchen walked. Luis Urias got a pain RBI by letting a pitch hit him (We’ve got ice!). Caratini then grounded out to second base for the inning’s second out, but Renfroe came in to score and give The Crew the lead at 3-2. There were still runners on second and third, but again, they could not get some insurance with a big, two-out hit. In the seventh inning, they had two more singles, but Tanner Scott recorded three more strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Milwaukee got one single, and Tommy Nance got three more strikeouts. In the ninth inning, there were no strikeouts, but three routine groundouts. On the night, the Brewers struck out 16 times! What Do You Do? If you look at the WPA, it shows that Devin Williams didn't get the job done on this night. But what would you do? Williams is the closer and one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But if you look at the Bullpen Usage chart below, he has thrown a lot of pitches this week. Matt Bush didn't throw a lot of pitches in the eighth. Would you have let him pitch the ninth inning? Brad Boxberger only threw 12 pitches in the seventh inning. Maybe he could have pitched the eighth too? But then the question remains, would you pitch Bush in the ninth? Would you have considered using Taylor Rogers in the ninth? The answer to all those questions is... Maybe. And maybe they would have worked on this particular night because that's how baseball works. But if any of those scenarios would have been used, and that situation would have ended in a Brewers loss, the one question that would have been asked is... Why did they not go to Devin Williams in the ninth? What’s Next? The Brewers will finish out this series with the Marlins before welcoming Arizona for the final three games. The Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound at the start of Sunday afternoon’s game, in an “Opener” role. Pablo Lopez will start for the Marlins. Wild Card Scenarios The Phillies played two games against the Nationals on Saturday. They lost the afternoon game but responded with a win in the nightcap. However, the loss meant that a Brewers win would have had the two teams tied heading into the final four games. NOTE: The Padres currently lead the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Three more outs and their record will improve to 87-71. That is the record in the scenarios below. This chart will be updated when the game in San Diego goes final. Remaining Games Brewers: 1 at home vs Marlins, 3 at home vs Arizona Phillies: 1 at home vs Nationals, 3 at Houston Padres: 1 at home vs White Sox, 3 at home vs Giants So the Brewers are now one game out of a playoff spot. Because of the tiebreakers, the Brewers will have to finish a game ahead of the Phillies or Padres to take a Wild Card spot. Philadelphia Phillies If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Phillies to go 2-2 (or 1-3, or 0-4). If the Brewers go 3-1, they need the Phillies to go 1-3 (or 0-4). If the Brewers go 2-2, they need the Phillies to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 1-3 or 0-4, the Phillies go to the playoffs. San Diego Padres If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Padres to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4, the Padres clinch a playoff spot. While the Padres are all but assured of a playoff spot, there still is hope in surpassing the Phillies. Why? They have three games in Houston. Normally, one might assume that the Astros would be resting its key players, but because the top two seeds in each league get a first-round bye, they will want to set up their pitching rotation and try to give those key players reps knowing that they will be getting at least five days off before Round 2 of the playoffs would begin. The Brewers would be greatly helped by the Astros dominating the Phillies. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  4. Over the past seven to ten games, every Brewers win has been big. Every Brewers loss has been excruciating. Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the Marlins was especially rough. Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Aaron Ashby: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (65 pitches, 37 strikes (56.9%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Luis Urias (0.247), Matt Bush (0.120), Trevor Gott (0.109) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Williams (-0.694), Willy Adames (-0.234), Tyrone Taylor (-0.147) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) 9th Inning Blown Save We have to start here. It was obviously the key inning of this game, and potentially for the Brewers season. With a 3-2 lead, Craig Counsell turned again to Devin Williams, hoping for another Save. A night earlier, he finished out a save despite struggling with his control. On this night, it just didn’t happen for him. After walking three in Friday night, he allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Berti. It’s never a good thing, but Berti is leading MLB in stolen bases this season. Joey Wendle pinch hit, and he struck out. But then Berti stole second, his 39th steal of the year. Williams followed it by walking Brian Anderson and then yanking a fastball straight to the backstop to put runners on second and third with one out. Bryan De La Cruz came through with a solid single to left field. Both runs would have scored anyway, but when Christian Yelich bobbled the ball, the Marlins DH on this night took second. Peter Strzelecki came in and got the next two batters out. That sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers had the top of their lineup coming to bat, but Don Mattingly turned to lefty Richard Bleier who got Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez out on three quick ground out. Ashby OK in Short Start While Aaron Ashby is just 2-10 on the season, he has had some solid starts, and that was the hope in this game. In actuality, he pitched fairly well in this game. That said, in the third inning, with Jordan Groshans on base, Peyton Burdick hit his third career home run to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. A huge point of emphasis for Ashby has to be eliminating or at least minimizing his walk totals. While he only threw strikes on 57% of his pitches, he did not walk anyone. Ashby was solid, but he also got some help from his defense. And 4 1/3 innings may not be exciting, but he did keep the team in the game and Counsell turned to a bullpen he has relied upon a lot this season including lately. And that bullpen did the job (until the 9th, as you already read). Trevor Gott got out all five batters he faced. Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush each tossed a three-batter inning. Offense Struggles In the first three innings, the Brewers lineup went one-two-three each inning. Of the nine batters, five of them struck out. Edward Cabrera, however, left the game with some arm discomfort at that point. Andrew Nardi came on and Christian Yelich led off the fourth inning with a home run to the opposite field. The team struck out three more times that inning. The Brewers had a big opportunity in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias started the inning with walks. Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham who struck out a pinch-hitting Victor Caratini and got a fly out by Tyrone Taylor. With two outs, Yelich walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, Willy Adames was unable to provide a two-out hit and the team went scoreless again. In the sixth inning, the Brewers broke through and probably could have scored more. Jake Fishman came on to pitch and Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe started the inning with back-to-back singles. Mike Brosseau came on to pinch hit and struck out. Huascar Brazoban came in and threw a wild pitch. With runners on second and third bases, McCutchen walked. Luis Urias got a pain RBI by letting a pitch hit him (We’ve got ice!). Caratini then grounded out to second base for the inning’s second out, but Renfroe came in to score and give The Crew the lead at 3-2. There were still runners on second and third, but again, they could not get some insurance with a big, two-out hit. In the seventh inning, they had two more singles, but Tanner Scott recorded three more strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Milwaukee got one single, and Tommy Nance got three more strikeouts. In the ninth inning, there were no strikeouts, but three routine groundouts. On the night, the Brewers struck out 16 times! What Do You Do? If you look at the WPA, it shows that Devin Williams didn't get the job done on this night. But what would you do? Williams is the closer and one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But if you look at the Bullpen Usage chart below, he has thrown a lot of pitches this week. Matt Bush didn't throw a lot of pitches in the eighth. Would you have let him pitch the ninth inning? Brad Boxberger only threw 12 pitches in the seventh inning. Maybe he could have pitched the eighth too? But then the question remains, would you pitch Bush in the ninth? Would you have considered using Taylor Rogers in the ninth? The answer to all those questions is... Maybe. And maybe they would have worked on this particular night because that's how baseball works. But if any of those scenarios would have been used, and that situation would have ended in a Brewers loss, the one question that would have been asked is... Why did they not go to Devin Williams in the ninth? What’s Next? The Brewers will finish out this series with the Marlins before welcoming Arizona for the final three games. The Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound at the start of Sunday afternoon’s game, in an “Opener” role. Pablo Lopez will start for the Marlins. Wild Card Scenarios The Phillies played two games against the Nationals on Saturday. They lost the afternoon game but responded with a win in the nightcap. However, the loss meant that a Brewers win would have had the two teams tied heading into the final four games. NOTE: The Padres currently lead the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Three more outs and their record will improve to 87-71. That is the record in the scenarios below. This chart will be updated when the game in San Diego goes final. Remaining Games Brewers: 1 at home vs Marlins, 3 at home vs Arizona Phillies: 1 at home vs Nationals, 3 at Houston Padres: 1 at home vs White Sox, 3 at home vs Giants So the Brewers are now one game out of a playoff spot. Because of the tiebreakers, the Brewers will have to finish a game ahead of the Phillies or Padres to take a Wild Card spot. Philadelphia Phillies If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Phillies to go 2-2 (or 1-3, or 0-4). If the Brewers go 3-1, they need the Phillies to go 1-3 (or 0-4). If the Brewers go 2-2, they need the Phillies to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 1-3 or 0-4, the Phillies go to the playoffs. San Diego Padres If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Padres to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4, the Padres clinch a playoff spot. While the Padres are all but assured of a playoff spot, there still is hope in surpassing the Phillies. Why? They have three games in Houston. Normally, one might assume that the Astros would be resting its key players, but because the top two seeds in each league get a first-round bye, they will want to set up their pitching rotation and try to give those key players reps knowing that they will be getting at least five days off before Round 2 of the playoffs would begin. The Brewers would be greatly helped by the Astros dominating the Phillies. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. For the last half decade fans and analysts alike have listed the Brewers bullpen as an area of strength, and potential catalyst of their success. Without much of a second thought, this expectation carried into the current season. The results have been mixed. But fans shouldn't worry. Prior to Wednesday's game against the Phillies, the Brewers pen was at 10th overall in both ERA and WHIP, and in that same area for home runs and walks surrendered. Statistically speaking, this may sound like business as usual for the Brewers. But if you had to pick two adjectives to describe the relief performances this year, both “strong” and “inconsistent” may come to mind. In terms of volume, manager Craig Counsell’s usage of the bullpen has been lower than most might expect, even with all the injuries to starters. In fact, they’ve only logged 200.2 innings as of June 8th, which places the Brewers bullpen usage in the bottom third of the league. Early in the season, the Crew took a big blow to the middle relief core when Jake Cousins went down with an elbow injury, where he currently sits on the 60-Day IL. Players like Jandel Gustave and J.C. Mejía (see below) failed to provide the value the Brewers hoped for one way or another, and neither currently find themselves on the big league roster. When more innings were demanded from the bullpen, Trevor Kelly and Peter Strzelecki earned unexpected call-ups, and produced undesirable results. Even Brewers veteran Brent Suter, who the Brewers have relied on in the past to eat innings, has been shaky, posting an earned run average north of 5. Unsurprisingly though, the backend of the bullpen has remained as strong as ever. Josh Hader has continued his historical dominance, converting 18/19 save chances, all while only surrendering runs in one of those appearances. And even though his outings have been stressful, Devin Williams and the aptly named “airbender” have continued to lock up the 8th inning. Even Brad Boxberger, the Brewers leader in innings the past season, has pitched well in his 7th inning role. Newcomer Trevor Gott has also turned in solid work at points. Is there any reason for worry here? Probably not. There truly hasn't been any real cause for concern. Injuries and bad relief appearances happen. And although the bullpen is still a strength, it isn’t in the same way it was 4 years ago. You aren’t going to see 5+ innings of scoreless relief anywhere near the commonality that there was 2018. The 2022 Brewers team can rely on their starters to go into the 6th and 7th inning, and shouldn’t have to rely on overwhelming depth. The strength isn't in quantity, it's in the quality. In case you need more proof, take a look at Josh Hader’s statcast statistics compared to his previous seasons. If you ever needed any proof of his dominance, these could easily serve as evidence for his best season ever. Statistics via Baseball Savant, accessed 6/08/2022 So, you can scratch the 9th inning off your worries. Heck, you can probably safely scratch off the 7th and 8th inning while you're at it, as both Devin Williams and Brad Boxberger's work over the past year and a half should speak for itself. If you do this, the big picture becomes clear. Whether it's Burnes, Woodruff, Peralta, Lauer, Ashby, or Houser starting on any given night, if they can turn in 5-6 innings of quality work, the team is left with a maximum of 3 outs to worry about from the other 4 relievers in the pen. So you wanted to know what to make of the Brewers pen? I wouldn't worry, It's fitting right where it needs to. View full article
  8. Prior to Wednesday's game against the Phillies, the Brewers pen was at 10th overall in both ERA and WHIP, and in that same area for home runs and walks surrendered. Statistically speaking, this may sound like business as usual for the Brewers. But if you had to pick two adjectives to describe the relief performances this year, both “strong” and “inconsistent” may come to mind. In terms of volume, manager Craig Counsell’s usage of the bullpen has been lower than most might expect, even with all the injuries to starters. In fact, they’ve only logged 200.2 innings as of June 8th, which places the Brewers bullpen usage in the bottom third of the league. Early in the season, the Crew took a big blow to the middle relief core when Jake Cousins went down with an elbow injury, where he currently sits on the 60-Day IL. Players like Jandel Gustave and J.C. Mejía (see below) failed to provide the value the Brewers hoped for one way or another, and neither currently find themselves on the big league roster. When more innings were demanded from the bullpen, Trevor Kelly and Peter Strzelecki earned unexpected call-ups, and produced undesirable results. Even Brewers veteran Brent Suter, who the Brewers have relied on in the past to eat innings, has been shaky, posting an earned run average north of 5. Unsurprisingly though, the backend of the bullpen has remained as strong as ever. Josh Hader has continued his historical dominance, converting 18/19 save chances, all while only surrendering runs in one of those appearances. And even though his outings have been stressful, Devin Williams and the aptly named “airbender” have continued to lock up the 8th inning. Even Brad Boxberger, the Brewers leader in innings the past season, has pitched well in his 7th inning role. Newcomer Trevor Gott has also turned in solid work at points. Is there any reason for worry here? Probably not. There truly hasn't been any real cause for concern. Injuries and bad relief appearances happen. And although the bullpen is still a strength, it isn’t in the same way it was 4 years ago. You aren’t going to see 5+ innings of scoreless relief anywhere near the commonality that there was 2018. The 2022 Brewers team can rely on their starters to go into the 6th and 7th inning, and shouldn’t have to rely on overwhelming depth. The strength isn't in quantity, it's in the quality. In case you need more proof, take a look at Josh Hader’s statcast statistics compared to his previous seasons. If you ever needed any proof of his dominance, these could easily serve as evidence for his best season ever. Statistics via Baseball Savant, accessed 6/08/2022 So, you can scratch the 9th inning off your worries. Heck, you can probably safely scratch off the 7th and 8th inning while you're at it, as both Devin Williams and Brad Boxberger's work over the past year and a half should speak for itself. If you do this, the big picture becomes clear. Whether it's Burnes, Woodruff, Peralta, Lauer, Ashby, or Houser starting on any given night, if they can turn in 5-6 innings of quality work, the team is left with a maximum of 3 outs to worry about from the other 4 relievers in the pen. So you wanted to know what to make of the Brewers pen? I wouldn't worry, It's fitting right where it needs to.
  9. MLB had gotten to a point where it no longer made sense to have pitchers bat. Big league hurlers don't work on their craft in the batter’s box as much as they used to, and it shows. Not to mention that pitching has become so tough for everyday players to hit that pitchers stand even less of a chance to do much damage. Thus, after years of fighting it, the NL has adopted the DH for good. No doubt this helps the Brewers’ offense on a basic level, where a professional hitter takes the spot of a pitcher flailing at the dish. For a club with elite pitching, there are aspects to this that could also prove advantageous for the pitchers. There are three ways the DH may help the Brewers’ pitching staff. Injury and Fatigue Removing the risk of injury by swinging a bat or running the bases is one obvious benefit, but that goes for all teams. Of course, the Brewers have had a few injuries stand out to (at the time, top of the rotation starters: Jimmy Nelson (shoulder, diving back to first base), Chase Anderson (oblique, swinging bat), and Junior Guerra (calf, running out of the box). Nelson’s injury was the most damaging for the Brewers and Nelson’s career. Nobody wants to see their pitchers go down for an extended period thanks to something on the offense side of the ball. That rings especially true when you rely on pitching as much as the Brewers are in 2022. The same thing goes for keeping them healthy and fresh throughout the season. Fatigue doesn’t just happen on the mound. While Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta weren’t on base that much last season, each foray onto the base paths takes a little out of you. Whether you’re running hard to help the offense or just standing on the diamond longer, it can impact effectiveness as the game wears on. Tightness, cramps, general fatigue, and other minor disruptions can cause a drop in performance and another increased risk of injury. The cumulative impact of fatigue and other related concerns throughout the season can add up over time. Once again, while no team wants to see their pitchers go down, no club needs their hurlers strong and in peak form as much as the Brewers. Multiple Innings for Relievers The Brewers have several pitchers in the bullpen who are more than capable of throwing at least two innings in relief in games. Now manager Craig Counsell doesn’t have to worry about the pitcher’s spot coming up next inning or figuring out if it’s worth “wasting” at at-bat to keep a reliever in the game. Having the DH opens up new philosophies on reliever usage, which Counsell and the Brewers typically thrive on. It’s a valuable strategy to utilize an effective reliever for more than one frame for several reasons. Every time a new pitcher comes out of the pen, there’s a chance he has a bad day. If a reliever is throwing well in his first inning, there’s some comfort in sticking with the “hot arm” for a second inning. It’s not always the best move – and it will occasionally blow up in the manager’s face – but it becomes a more viable option with a DH. How often has a reliever had a quick inning, only to see his spot come up in the order, and the odds say it’s better to use a pinch-hitter and a new pitcher? Having pitchers throw a couple of innings followed by a day or two off can also be a better long-term strategy to keep relievers healthy and fresh. Pitching one frame at a time and consistently tossing an inning on back-to-back days can develop more wear and tear over time. It also creates situations where pitchers are needed more often, adding to the workload. If you’re a team like the Brewers fighting for a division title, you tend to push your best relievers a lot. Take Brad Boxberger last season. He appeared in a career-high 71 games a year ago and had some fatigue issues late in the year. While Boxberger mainly was lights out, he had three blown saves in September, plus another outing when he allowed five earned runs without recording an out. Had Counsell had more opportunities to skip Boxberger's outings by using more multi-inning relievers, it certainly would have helped his reliever down the stretch. Guys like Aaron Ashby and Brent Suter can even provide three innings of valuable relief work to spare others who are more one-inning guys. Once again, not worrying about pitchers hitting will offer more chances to take advantage of this strategy and keep the bullpen humming into September and the playoffs. Longer Outings for the Starters No, none of the starters will regularly pitch into the 8th inning or anything. However, much like with the relievers, not having to worry about the pitcher’s spot will give the starters some extra innings here and there. Counsell typically went for the pinch-hitter late and close, even if the starter had more in the tank. Now he can focus just on the pitcher. Take a scenario where it’s the top of the 6th in St. Louis with the Brewers trailing by one and Burnes coming up with a man on 2nd. You pinch-hit there to try to tie the game but now lose Burnes to a (likely) less qualified middle relief arm. From now on, it’s no longer a concern, and you can keep in your Cy Young winner if he is still dealing. Throughout the season, you can get more innings from your stud rotation, provide some added rest for relievers, and have greater certainty of victory. Think about how this impacted the NLDS games in Atlanta. In Game 3 especially, Counsell decided to pinch-hit for Peralta after four innings to chase some runs. That led a depleted bullpen to cover more innings than usual. Handling those frames, then having to pitch early and often in Game Four, certainly played a role in the Brewers' series defeat. The DH will allow Counsell to prioritize innings and pitches better for his starters and relievers throughout the season and into the playoffs. Especially for Milwaukee’s “Big Three,” you could be talking an extra 10-15 frames over 30 starts, giving them more opportunities to win games late and save high-leverage bullpen arms. It will be easier to ride the horses in the postseason without worrying about “playing for runs” with a pinch-hitter. It will be fun to see how Counsell finds ways to use the rules to their advantage. Sure, the 60-game COVID season gave a glimpse with a DH, but pitchers weren’t fully ready – and the season was strange anyway. Seeing this unfold over 162 contests (plus the postseason) will be something Brewers fans should be able to enjoy. You can disagree, but it feels like the DH helps Milwaukee’s offense AND pitching.
  10. Bringing the DH to the National League will certainly increase offense across the Senior Circuit, and it provides the Milwaukee Brewers an added bat to hopefully improve their offense this season. Sometimes rule changes also have unintended consequences, which could suit the Brewers' pitching staff. MLB had gotten to a point where it no longer made sense to have pitchers bat. Big league hurlers don't work on their craft in the batter’s box as much as they used to, and it shows. Not to mention that pitching has become so tough for everyday players to hit that pitchers stand even less of a chance to do much damage. Thus, after years of fighting it, the NL has adopted the DH for good. No doubt this helps the Brewers’ offense on a basic level, where a professional hitter takes the spot of a pitcher flailing at the dish. For a club with elite pitching, there are aspects to this that could also prove advantageous for the pitchers. There are three ways the DH may help the Brewers’ pitching staff. Injury and Fatigue Removing the risk of injury by swinging a bat or running the bases is one obvious benefit, but that goes for all teams. Of course, the Brewers have had a few injuries stand out to (at the time, top of the rotation starters: Jimmy Nelson (shoulder, diving back to first base), Chase Anderson (oblique, swinging bat), and Junior Guerra (calf, running out of the box). Nelson’s injury was the most damaging for the Brewers and Nelson’s career. Nobody wants to see their pitchers go down for an extended period thanks to something on the offense side of the ball. That rings especially true when you rely on pitching as much as the Brewers are in 2022. The same thing goes for keeping them healthy and fresh throughout the season. Fatigue doesn’t just happen on the mound. While Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta weren’t on base that much last season, each foray onto the base paths takes a little out of you. Whether you’re running hard to help the offense or just standing on the diamond longer, it can impact effectiveness as the game wears on. Tightness, cramps, general fatigue, and other minor disruptions can cause a drop in performance and another increased risk of injury. The cumulative impact of fatigue and other related concerns throughout the season can add up over time. Once again, while no team wants to see their pitchers go down, no club needs their hurlers strong and in peak form as much as the Brewers. Multiple Innings for Relievers The Brewers have several pitchers in the bullpen who are more than capable of throwing at least two innings in relief in games. Now manager Craig Counsell doesn’t have to worry about the pitcher’s spot coming up next inning or figuring out if it’s worth “wasting” at at-bat to keep a reliever in the game. Having the DH opens up new philosophies on reliever usage, which Counsell and the Brewers typically thrive on. It’s a valuable strategy to utilize an effective reliever for more than one frame for several reasons. Every time a new pitcher comes out of the pen, there’s a chance he has a bad day. If a reliever is throwing well in his first inning, there’s some comfort in sticking with the “hot arm” for a second inning. It’s not always the best move – and it will occasionally blow up in the manager’s face – but it becomes a more viable option with a DH. How often has a reliever had a quick inning, only to see his spot come up in the order, and the odds say it’s better to use a pinch-hitter and a new pitcher? Having pitchers throw a couple of innings followed by a day or two off can also be a better long-term strategy to keep relievers healthy and fresh. Pitching one frame at a time and consistently tossing an inning on back-to-back days can develop more wear and tear over time. It also creates situations where pitchers are needed more often, adding to the workload. If you’re a team like the Brewers fighting for a division title, you tend to push your best relievers a lot. Take Brad Boxberger last season. He appeared in a career-high 71 games a year ago and had some fatigue issues late in the year. While Boxberger mainly was lights out, he had three blown saves in September, plus another outing when he allowed five earned runs without recording an out. Had Counsell had more opportunities to skip Boxberger's outings by using more multi-inning relievers, it certainly would have helped his reliever down the stretch. Guys like Aaron Ashby and Brent Suter can even provide three innings of valuable relief work to spare others who are more one-inning guys. Once again, not worrying about pitchers hitting will offer more chances to take advantage of this strategy and keep the bullpen humming into September and the playoffs. Longer Outings for the Starters No, none of the starters will regularly pitch into the 8th inning or anything. However, much like with the relievers, not having to worry about the pitcher’s spot will give the starters some extra innings here and there. Counsell typically went for the pinch-hitter late and close, even if the starter had more in the tank. Now he can focus just on the pitcher. Take a scenario where it’s the top of the 6th in St. Louis with the Brewers trailing by one and Burnes coming up with a man on 2nd. You pinch-hit there to try to tie the game but now lose Burnes to a (likely) less qualified middle relief arm. From now on, it’s no longer a concern, and you can keep in your Cy Young winner if he is still dealing. Throughout the season, you can get more innings from your stud rotation, provide some added rest for relievers, and have greater certainty of victory. Think about how this impacted the NLDS games in Atlanta. In Game 3 especially, Counsell decided to pinch-hit for Peralta after four innings to chase some runs. That led a depleted bullpen to cover more innings than usual. Handling those frames, then having to pitch early and often in Game Four, certainly played a role in the Brewers' series defeat. The DH will allow Counsell to prioritize innings and pitches better for his starters and relievers throughout the season and into the playoffs. Especially for Milwaukee’s “Big Three,” you could be talking an extra 10-15 frames over 30 starts, giving them more opportunities to win games late and save high-leverage bullpen arms. It will be easier to ride the horses in the postseason without worrying about “playing for runs” with a pinch-hitter. It will be fun to see how Counsell finds ways to use the rules to their advantage. Sure, the 60-game COVID season gave a glimpse with a DH, but pitchers weren’t fully ready – and the season was strange anyway. Seeing this unfold over 162 contests (plus the postseason) will be something Brewers fans should be able to enjoy. You can disagree, but it feels like the DH helps Milwaukee’s offense AND pitching. View full article
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