Jump to content
Brewer Fanatic

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'brandon woodruff'.

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Baseball Forums
    • Milwaukee Brewers Talk
    • Brewers Minor League Talk
    • Transaction Rumors & Proposals
    • MLB Draft & International Signings
    • Head 2 Head Debate Forum
    • Transactions, Signings, and Trade News
  • Miscellaneous Forums
    • Other Sports
    • Off-Topic Forum
    • Brewer Fanatic Issues & Suggestions
  • Archive Forums
    • Archived Game Threads
    • WOAH SOLVDD

Blogs

  • Battle Your Tail Off
  • Send [Chris] Hook
  • The State of the Nation
  • Cheese Wiz Curds
  • A Half Century With the Brewers
  • Fun with numbers
  • Musing from the cheap seats
  • "Juuuuust a bit outside"
  • Miller Park Musings
  • Brew City Couch Committee: A Milwaukee Brewers Podcast
  • My Brewers Blog
  • Tom Ciaccio
  • Keston Hiura. Who Is, Was or Will He Be?
  • Caswell's blog
  • My MKE Brewers Blog
  • True Blue Crew
  • ClosetBrewerFan
  • Brewing on and off the field
  • Caleb's Brewer Blog

Categories

  • Brewers
  • Minors
  • Transactions
  • Just For Fun
  • Brewer Fanatic

Categories

  • Unregistered Help Files
  • All Users Help Files

Categories

  • Brewers & Minors
  • Vintage
  • Retrospective
  • Brewer Fanatic

Categories

  • Milwaukee Brewers Trade Rumors & Targets

Categories

  • Milwaukee Brewers Guides & Resources

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


About Me


Twitter

  1. The Brewers have a lot of very intriguing questions to answer this offseason, and we will try to provide some thoughts on many of the possibilities. Last weekend, we considered the options with Brandon Woodruff. This weekend, we are considering options for the organization to consider as it relates to Corbin Burnes. Image courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK I think we can all agree that it will be a very interesting off-season for the Milwaukee Brewers. And there are some really difficult decisions for Matt Arnold and Company to consider. Between free agency and potential trades, the front office should be busy. How much will they be able to spend, or will they need to make decisions to reduce salaries? If that’s the case, fans will need to know that there will be some really good, really popular players that could be dealt. Today, we consider what a contract extension with Corbin Burnes might look like. (SPOILER ALERT! Quick summary, in case you need to come back later to see the actual numbers… It’s going to be a bunch of years and a really big dollar value.) Last weekend, we considered what a trade of co-ace Brandon Woodruff might look like as well as what Woodruff might be able to get in a long-term contract extension. Yesterday, Tim considered what the Brewers could get in return for Cy Young Corbin Burnes. So today, the pressure is on me to do a little research and provide Brewers fans with a realistic look at what a long-term contract extension with Burnes might look like Let’s start with the basics. Burnes was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of St. Mary’s University. He made his MLB debut in July of 2018 and tossed 30 games out of the Brewers bullpen. In 2019, he went 1-5 with an ERA at 8.82, again, most out of the bullpen. That is the point in which I dropped him from the minor-league roster of my long-time keeper league. He had 243 strikeouts to go with 51 walks. So of course, in 2020, he went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA. In 2021, he went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA. In 167 innings, he walked 34 and struck out 234 batters on his way to his first Cy Young award. So far, it’s “just” one Cy Young Award, but if healthy, he appears to be a guy who will be a perennial All Star and Cy Young candidate. In 2022, he made a career-high 33 starts (to lead the league) and 202 innings. He was 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He has 4.049 years of service time which means he has two years of arbitration left potentially. So in reality, the Brewers (and Burnes) should not feel forced to make a deal, but it is also the ideal time for the Brewers to do this because the closer Burnes gets to free agency, the more likely he will want to hold out for that time when multiple teams will be able to court him. A quick look at his velocities. In 2022, his fastball averaged 96.0 to 96.9 mph. In the past couple of years, the pitch has been coded more often as a cutter and the velocity has been 95.3 and 95.1 mph. His slider has been over 88 mph. His curveball has been between 81 and 82 mph. He even throws a change-up, and it has been right over 90 mph. In other words, the stuff has not changed. According to Fan Graphs, Burnes has been worth 14.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past three seasons, and that includes the Covid-shortened 2020 season (he was a 2.4 WAR pitcher in the 60-game season, which equates to about 6.5 WAR over a full season). In those three seasons, his ‘Value’ has been worth $115.6 million. Again, if you give him a full season for 2020, you can add about $33 million more to that number. So yes, per 162 games, he has been worth just over $50 million per year. Corbin Burnes has been on the Injured List just once. In 2020, he missed time with an oblique injury. In 2021, his Cy Young season, he left one game with a jammed knee but didn’t miss a start. Knock on proverbial wood, but to this point, he has remained healthy. Comparable Contracts Simply, there are not a lot of long-term contracts signed with dominant, Cy Young Award winners with two years of arbitration remaining. So, it is possible that the only decent comparables might be free agents, but that’s not the same. Free agents can talk to multiple teams in their negotiations. That said, those top contracts such as Gerrit Cole’s deal with the Yankees (9 years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals (7 years, $245 million). The Average Annual Value (AAV) of Cole’s deal was $36 million while Strasburg’s was $35 million. Of course, Trevor Bauer also signed before the 2020 season at an AAV of $34 million. Going back five years earlier, Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with Washington ($30 million per year). The one contract that is probably most similar to this Burnes’ situation might be that of Jacob deGrom. Before the 2019 season, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million deal. At the time, deGrom was coming off of his first Cy Young season in 2018 and then won his second in 2019. So, he had two more years of arbitration remaining if he wanted to go in that direction. Instead, he signed a deal and received: 2019: $7M, 2020: $23M, 2021: $33.5M, 2022: $33.5M, 2023: $30.5M, 2024: $32.5M (club option). (AAV = $27.5M) As you know, the deal allowed deGrom to opt out after the 2022 season (so we should hear more about that soon). It’s also important to note that nearly half of the contract is deferred. Could that be included in a deal with Burnes? deGrom also received a full no-trade clause. There is one significant difference between deGrom’s extension and a long-term extension with Burnes, if he signs this offseason. Age. 2019 was the first season of deGrom’s deal, and it was his Age-31 season. Burnes will be 28 years old throughout the first season of such a deal. While that doesn’t need to mean more AAV, it could mean extending the contract out. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Burnes and his agents and advisors. OK, I’d probably start just a little bit lower in hopes of reaching a deal around this number. Will this be a deal that Brewers management, and ownership, would be comfortable agreeing upon? Age Year Salary 28 2023 $18.00 29 2024 $25.00 30 2025 $28.00 31 2026 $30.00 32 2027 $32.00 opt out 33 2028 $33.00 34 2029 $34.00 35 2030 $35.00 buyout $10M This contract is similar to deGrom’s deal with the Mets. The difference is that it extends longer, and I don’t want to have to consider deferments and such. I do like the idea of options, at least one, at the end of any contract. I really do not like the idea of opt-outs. However, in this case, I am going to add one. I feel like these huge contracts are far riskier for the organization than it is for the player. In this case, I would let Burnes make that decision after five years and $133 million. If he did opt out, he would be giving up the final two years and $77 million. However, if he would opt out, it would be because he could sign a deal for much more than that. If that happens, the Brewers would save that money by not paying a 33-34 year old $77 million when the risk is obviously much higher. The Brewers risk, of course, is that Burnes doesn’t opt out, it would likely mean that either he wasn’t pitching well or was injured. With Opt Out 5 years, $133M Guaranteed 7 years, $210M Up To 8 years, $235M Ultimately, it is the same contract that Max Scherzer signed as a free agent seven years ago. Again, Scherzer was a free agent. He won his first Cy Young Award two years earlier, in his age-28 season with the Tigers. In 2018, he finished fifth in Cy Young voting. He had pitched in his second straight All-Star game. The economics of baseball has grown significantly over the past seven years. I think that two years of arbitration and five years of free agency today could be worth the same as a seven-year contract would have seven years ago. So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Corbin Burnes at this time? If his representation is willing to negotiate from there, awesome. Keep the talks going. If they aren’t willing to even listen to that offer, then Milwaukee should reach out to other teams to see what his trade value is (It will be very, very big). If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something close to $20 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. What would you do? View full article
  2. I think we can all agree that it will be a very interesting off-season for the Milwaukee Brewers. And there are some really difficult decisions for Matt Arnold and Company to consider. Between free agency and potential trades, the front office should be busy. How much will they be able to spend, or will they need to make decisions to reduce salaries? If that’s the case, fans will need to know that there will be some really good, really popular players that could be dealt. Today, we consider what a contract extension with Corbin Burnes might look like. (SPOILER ALERT! Quick summary, in case you need to come back later to see the actual numbers… It’s going to be a bunch of years and a really big dollar value.) Last weekend, we considered what a trade of co-ace Brandon Woodruff might look like as well as what Woodruff might be able to get in a long-term contract extension. Yesterday, Tim considered what the Brewers could get in return for Cy Young Corbin Burnes. So today, the pressure is on me to do a little research and provide Brewers fans with a realistic look at what a long-term contract extension with Burnes might look like Let’s start with the basics. Burnes was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of St. Mary’s University. He made his MLB debut in July of 2018 and tossed 30 games out of the Brewers bullpen. In 2019, he went 1-5 with an ERA at 8.82, again, most out of the bullpen. That is the point in which I dropped him from the minor-league roster of my long-time keeper league. He had 243 strikeouts to go with 51 walks. So of course, in 2020, he went 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA. In 2021, he went 11-5 with a 2.43 ERA. In 167 innings, he walked 34 and struck out 234 batters on his way to his first Cy Young award. So far, it’s “just” one Cy Young Award, but if healthy, he appears to be a guy who will be a perennial All Star and Cy Young candidate. In 2022, he made a career-high 33 starts (to lead the league) and 202 innings. He was 12-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He has 4.049 years of service time which means he has two years of arbitration left potentially. So in reality, the Brewers (and Burnes) should not feel forced to make a deal, but it is also the ideal time for the Brewers to do this because the closer Burnes gets to free agency, the more likely he will want to hold out for that time when multiple teams will be able to court him. A quick look at his velocities. In 2022, his fastball averaged 96.0 to 96.9 mph. In the past couple of years, the pitch has been coded more often as a cutter and the velocity has been 95.3 and 95.1 mph. His slider has been over 88 mph. His curveball has been between 81 and 82 mph. He even throws a change-up, and it has been right over 90 mph. In other words, the stuff has not changed. According to Fan Graphs, Burnes has been worth 14.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the past three seasons, and that includes the Covid-shortened 2020 season (he was a 2.4 WAR pitcher in the 60-game season, which equates to about 6.5 WAR over a full season). In those three seasons, his ‘Value’ has been worth $115.6 million. Again, if you give him a full season for 2020, you can add about $33 million more to that number. So yes, per 162 games, he has been worth just over $50 million per year. Corbin Burnes has been on the Injured List just once. In 2020, he missed time with an oblique injury. In 2021, his Cy Young season, he left one game with a jammed knee but didn’t miss a start. Knock on proverbial wood, but to this point, he has remained healthy. Comparable Contracts Simply, there are not a lot of long-term contracts signed with dominant, Cy Young Award winners with two years of arbitration remaining. So, it is possible that the only decent comparables might be free agents, but that’s not the same. Free agents can talk to multiple teams in their negotiations. That said, those top contracts such as Gerrit Cole’s deal with the Yankees (9 years, $324 million) or Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals (7 years, $245 million). The Average Annual Value (AAV) of Cole’s deal was $36 million while Strasburg’s was $35 million. Of course, Trevor Bauer also signed before the 2020 season at an AAV of $34 million. Going back five years earlier, Max Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million deal with Washington ($30 million per year). The one contract that is probably most similar to this Burnes’ situation might be that of Jacob deGrom. Before the 2019 season, deGrom and the Mets agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million deal. At the time, deGrom was coming off of his first Cy Young season in 2018 and then won his second in 2019. So, he had two more years of arbitration remaining if he wanted to go in that direction. Instead, he signed a deal and received: 2019: $7M, 2020: $23M, 2021: $33.5M, 2022: $33.5M, 2023: $30.5M, 2024: $32.5M (club option). (AAV = $27.5M) As you know, the deal allowed deGrom to opt out after the 2022 season (so we should hear more about that soon). It’s also important to note that nearly half of the contract is deferred. Could that be included in a deal with Burnes? deGrom also received a full no-trade clause. There is one significant difference between deGrom’s extension and a long-term extension with Burnes, if he signs this offseason. Age. 2019 was the first season of deGrom’s deal, and it was his Age-31 season. Burnes will be 28 years old throughout the first season of such a deal. While that doesn’t need to mean more AAV, it could mean extending the contract out. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Burnes and his agents and advisors. OK, I’d probably start just a little bit lower in hopes of reaching a deal around this number. Will this be a deal that Brewers management, and ownership, would be comfortable agreeing upon? Age Year Salary 28 2023 $18.00 29 2024 $25.00 30 2025 $28.00 31 2026 $30.00 32 2027 $32.00 opt out 33 2028 $33.00 34 2029 $34.00 35 2030 $35.00 buyout $10M This contract is similar to deGrom’s deal with the Mets. The difference is that it extends longer, and I don’t want to have to consider deferments and such. I do like the idea of options, at least one, at the end of any contract. I really do not like the idea of opt-outs. However, in this case, I am going to add one. I feel like these huge contracts are far riskier for the organization than it is for the player. In this case, I would let Burnes make that decision after five years and $133 million. If he did opt out, he would be giving up the final two years and $77 million. However, if he would opt out, it would be because he could sign a deal for much more than that. If that happens, the Brewers would save that money by not paying a 33-34 year old $77 million when the risk is obviously much higher. The Brewers risk, of course, is that Burnes doesn’t opt out, it would likely mean that either he wasn’t pitching well or was injured. With Opt Out 5 years, $133M Guaranteed 7 years, $210M Up To 8 years, $235M Ultimately, it is the same contract that Max Scherzer signed as a free agent seven years ago. Again, Scherzer was a free agent. He won his first Cy Young Award two years earlier, in his age-28 season with the Tigers. In 2018, he finished fifth in Cy Young voting. He had pitched in his second straight All-Star game. The economics of baseball has grown significantly over the past seven years. I think that two years of arbitration and five years of free agency today could be worth the same as a seven-year contract would have seven years ago. So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Corbin Burnes at this time? If his representation is willing to negotiate from there, awesome. Keep the talks going. If they aren’t willing to even listen to that offer, then Milwaukee should reach out to other teams to see what his trade value is (It will be very, very big). If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something close to $20 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. What would you do?
  3. The Brewers have boasted one of most dominant duos of starting pitchers in baseball for the last several years. Are those days coming to an end? Image courtesy of Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have combined to strike out a remarkable 878 batters over the last two seasons. On their own, they’re two of the very best pitchers in the league. Together, they form a truly unstoppable force. The Brewers made the playoffs for four straight seasons before 2022, with Woodruff and Burnes as key reasons why. Things could be different in 2023. The Brewers have Aaron Ashby and Freddy Peralta under contract long-term, but Woodruff, Burnes and Eric Lauer will all become free agents following the 2024 season. It’s highly unlikely that Milwaukee will extend all three, with a good bet that they’ll retain only one. One can guess that one would be Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young winner. So where does that leave Woodruff, Burnes’ partner in dismantling hitters? Woodruff, 29, is exactly the type of pitcher many teams would covet. Since 2018, the 6-foot-4, 243-pound righty has posted a 3.06 ERA (137 ERA+) with an identical 3.06 FIP. Woodruff has notched three seasons in a row with an ERA of 3.05 or lower. He’s one of the best, most consistent starters in the league. Since 2020, Woodruff ranks 16th in ERA (2.84), eighth in strikeouts (492) and eighth in b-Wins Above Replacement (10.4). Woodruff has been more valuable, by bWAR, than Gerrit Cole, Luis Castillo and Yu Darvish over the last three seasons. Woodruff is a bonafide No. 1 starter and is a luxury as the No. 2 in Milwaukee’s rotation. It’s feasible that the Brewers decide to hang onto Woodruff and go for it again in 2023 and 2024. The team was close to the playoffs this season and can hope for improved health from Peralta and a better year from Christian Yelich. Per MLB Pipeline, the Brewers’ top six prospects are all position players. There’s real optimism for improved offense in the not-too-distant future. That didn’t stop the Crew from trading Josh Hader, though, who was just over a year from free agency and expected to earn a considerable raise via arbitration. Woodruff’s situation could be similar with prominent, talented prospects waiting on the other end. **What might a Brandon Woodruff contract extension look like?** A rotation of Burnes, Peralta, Ashby, Lauer and Adrian Houser could be enough to compete again in 2023. The loss of Woodruff would sting but recent packages for Frankie Montas, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo provide a glimpse of what Milwaukee could get in return. If they’re not going to extend him, why not cash in now? The Yankees dealt three of their top 10 prospects for Montas, while the Mariners parted with a significant package headlined by MLB Pipeline’s No. 17 prospect in Noelvi Marte for Castillo. The Twins acquired Tyler Mahle for two breakouts in Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand along with promising lefty Steve Hajjar. **Speaking of the Twins, could they be a potential trade partner for the Brewers and Woodruff?** On the flip side, Woodruff is a homegrown star in the midst of his prime. There’s little reason *not* to extend both Woodruff and Burnes, outside of the elevated price tags. As long as those two are in Brewers uniforms, the floor of the team will always be fairly high. It’s a unique and special pairing. If the Brewers want to keep their co-aces together, they’ll likely need to get creative with the rest of the roster to stay within their self-imposed budget. A league-minimum, talented outfield of Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer, and Sal Frelick could be a potential solution, as the team waits for Jackson Chourio to arrive too. After a disappointing finish to 2022 and with only three players under guaranteed contracts for 2023, the Brewers have an interesting offseason ahead. Will they run it back and try to win again? Or will they decide to cash in and improve their farm system, with Woodruff a clear trade candidate? What should the Brewers do with Woodruff? Trade, hold, or extend? Comment below! View full article
  4. The Brewers have the second biggest arbitration class in baseball at 18 players. Who should they tender and who should they let walk? View full video
  5. The Brewers have the second biggest arbitration class in baseball at 18 players. Who should they tender and who should they let walk?
  6. Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff have combined to strike out a remarkable 878 batters over the last two seasons. On their own, they’re two of the very best pitchers in the league. Together, they form a truly unstoppable force. The Brewers made the playoffs for four straight seasons before 2022, with Woodruff and Burnes as key reasons why. Things could be different in 2023. The Brewers have Aaron Ashby and Freddy Peralta under contract long-term, but Woodruff, Burnes and Eric Lauer will all become free agents following the 2024 season. It’s highly unlikely that Milwaukee will extend all three, with a good bet that they’ll retain only one. One can guess that one would be Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young winner. So where does that leave Woodruff, Burnes’ partner in dismantling hitters? Woodruff, 29, is exactly the type of pitcher many teams would covet. Since 2018, the 6-foot-4, 243-pound righty has posted a 3.06 ERA (137 ERA+) with an identical 3.06 FIP. Woodruff has notched three seasons in a row with an ERA of 3.05 or lower. He’s one of the best, most consistent starters in the league. Since 2020, Woodruff ranks 16th in ERA (2.84), eighth in strikeouts (492) and eighth in b-Wins Above Replacement (10.4). Woodruff has been more valuable, by bWAR, than Gerrit Cole, Luis Castillo and Yu Darvish over the last three seasons. Woodruff is a bonafide No. 1 starter and is a luxury as the No. 2 in Milwaukee’s rotation. It’s feasible that the Brewers decide to hang onto Woodruff and go for it again in 2023 and 2024. The team was close to the playoffs this season and can hope for improved health from Peralta and a better year from Christian Yelich. Per MLB Pipeline, the Brewers’ top six prospects are all position players. There’s real optimism for improved offense in the not-too-distant future. That didn’t stop the Crew from trading Josh Hader, though, who was just over a year from free agency and expected to earn a considerable raise via arbitration. Woodruff’s situation could be similar with prominent, talented prospects waiting on the other end. **What might a Brandon Woodruff contract extension look like?** A rotation of Burnes, Peralta, Ashby, Lauer and Adrian Houser could be enough to compete again in 2023. The loss of Woodruff would sting but recent packages for Frankie Montas, Tyler Mahle and Luis Castillo provide a glimpse of what Milwaukee could get in return. If they’re not going to extend him, why not cash in now? The Yankees dealt three of their top 10 prospects for Montas, while the Mariners parted with a significant package headlined by MLB Pipeline’s No. 17 prospect in Noelvi Marte for Castillo. The Twins acquired Tyler Mahle for two breakouts in Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand along with promising lefty Steve Hajjar. **Speaking of the Twins, could they be a potential trade partner for the Brewers and Woodruff?** On the flip side, Woodruff is a homegrown star in the midst of his prime. There’s little reason *not* to extend both Woodruff and Burnes, outside of the elevated price tags. As long as those two are in Brewers uniforms, the floor of the team will always be fairly high. It’s a unique and special pairing. If the Brewers want to keep their co-aces together, they’ll likely need to get creative with the rest of the roster to stay within their self-imposed budget. A league-minimum, talented outfield of Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer, and Sal Frelick could be a potential solution, as the team waits for Jackson Chourio to arrive too. After a disappointing finish to 2022 and with only three players under guaranteed contracts for 2023, the Brewers have an interesting offseason ahead. Will they run it back and try to win again? Or will they decide to cash in and improve their farm system, with Woodruff a clear trade candidate? What should the Brewers do with Woodruff? Trade, hold, or extend? Comment below!
  7. I think we can all agree that it will be a very interesting offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers. Between free agency and possible trades, the front office should be busy. The idea of locking up some key players to long-term deals may also be a theme this offseason. Today, we start this series by considering what a contract extension with Brandon Woodruff look like? Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports There will be many interesting decisions to be made this offseason. It is very possible that the front office may have more conversations internally about Brandon Woodruff than anyone else. He is under team control for the next two seasons and has earned significant raises. They could just go year to year. They should at least work with Woodruff’s representatives about a long-term deal, but if he is completely against that idea and looking to become a free agent, the Brewers owe it to themselves and the fans to consider trading him at peak value. But in this article, we are discussing the idea of a long-term contract extension with Woodruff. There are, of course, several factors that go into the decision to retain a player for an extended period of time. The first factor, obviously, is performance. Performance can be looked at in two ways. First, consider his statistics and track record. Well, Woodruff has been an All-Star twice in the past three seasons with All-Star games (there was no game in 2020). His ERA+ since 2019 have been 123, 149, 161, and 129. He received Cy Young votes in 2021 when he went just 9-10 but had an ERA of 2.56 and a WHIP of 0.97. In an average year, he is worth more than 3 fWAR. Based on that, he has been worth $108.7 million over the past four years. The performance also speaks to his stuff. Has he lost anything, velocity, spin, etc.? Well, Woodruff’s average fastball in 2019 was 96.3 mph. In 2022, it was 96.2 mph. He’s got a four-pitch mix. He’s got good control and command. So there are the reasons that the Brewers should absolutely want to lock up such a talented arm. In addition, anyone who has watched the playoffs knows that for a team to make a legitimate run toward a World Series title, they have to have at least two, and preferably three or four top starting pitchers. A big concern, especially with pitchers, has to be an injury. While past health doesn’t necessarily mean a pitcher will remain healthy, the track record is really all teams have to go by (although, they get access to his medicals before such expenditures are made). Brandon Woodruff has been on the Injured List three times. In 2019, he had an Oblique injury. In September of 2021, he was out with an illness. In May, he missed time with a sprained ankle. At that time, he confirmed that he had been diagnosed with Raynaud’s syndrome. It is a circulatory condition that causes numbness in the extremities due to reduced blood flow. While it doesn’t appear to have any real short or long-term effects, it is something to keep in mind. Comparable Contracts There have been a couple of long-term extensions for pitchers with similar success to Woodruff. Late this season, Luis Castillo signed a five-year, $108 million deal with a vesting option for 2028. Last November, the Blue Jays signed Jose Berrios to a seven-year, $131 million contract. Let’s start with the Berrios contract. The Puerto Rican right-hander had been acquired by Toronto from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. It certainly had to be a goal of the Blue Jays’ front office to keep him beyond the 2022 season. He was able to get a seven-year deal because he was about two years younger than Woodruff at the time of the deal. Luis Castillo is actually about three months older than Woodruff and their service time is very similar. Castillo has twice been an All Star and put up terrific numbers in Cincinnati. He was acquired by the Mariners before the trade deadline this year and pitched very well in a pennant race and in the playoffs. Castillo has three plus-pitches and his fastball is just a bit faster than Woodruff’s, but the Brewers’ co-ace has slightly better statistics. His FanGraphs WAR has been worth $112.3 million over the past four seasons. Berrios Castillo 2022 $10.70 2023 $15.70 $11.40 2024 $17.70 $24.15 2025 $18.70 $24.15 2026 $18.80 $24.15 2027 $24.70 $24.15 2028 $24.70 $25.00 There are a few things about these two agreements that the Brewers could choose to add to a Woodruff deal. For instance, if Castillo throws 180 or more innings in 2027, his $25 million contract vests. However, if he missed 130 or more days in 2025 through 2027 with a UCL injury, it becomes a $5 million team option. He has a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the deal, and if he’s traded over those final three years, he gets a $1 million bonus. Berrios has an opt-out after the 2026 season. There is a limited no-trade clause. He also has incentives in his deal based on his performance in 2025 and 2026 that could increase his 2027 and 2028 contracts by up to $5 million. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Woodruff and his agents and advisors. Age Salary Signing Bonus Total 2023 29 $10.50 $1.50 $12.00 2024 30 $21.00 $1.50 $22.50 2025 31 $21.50 $1.50 $23.00 2026 32 $22.00 $1.25 $23.25 2027 33 $23.00 $1.25 $24.25 2028 34 $25.00 buyout $5 This contract is incredibly similar to Castillo’s overall. I’ve included signing bonuses for each season. It would guarantee Woodruff five years and $110 million, an average annual value of $22 million. I personally like to include a team option or two, and in this case, I have an option for a sixth season at $25 million with a $5 million buyout. So, the contract could be worth $130 million over six seasons. I think that deal, if it could be completed, would be a home run for the Brewers and a very fair deal for Woodruff. Maybe a home run for both? So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Brandon Woodruff? If his side is willing to negotiate from there, fantastic. If they basically scoff at the offer, then the team should reach out to other organizations to see what his trade value is. If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something around $10-12 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. Share your thoughts. View full article
  8. There will be many interesting decisions to be made this offseason. It is very possible that the front office may have more conversations internally about Brandon Woodruff than anyone else. He is under team control for the next two seasons and has earned significant raises. They could just go year to year. They should at least work with Woodruff’s representatives about a long-term deal, but if he is completely against that idea and looking to become a free agent, the Brewers owe it to themselves and the fans to consider trading him at peak value. But in this article, we are discussing the idea of a long-term contract extension with Woodruff. There are, of course, several factors that go into the decision to retain a player for an extended period of time. The first factor, obviously, is performance. Performance can be looked at in two ways. First, consider his statistics and track record. Well, Woodruff has been an All-Star twice in the past three seasons with All-Star games (there was no game in 2020). His ERA+ since 2019 have been 123, 149, 161, and 129. He received Cy Young votes in 2021 when he went just 9-10 but had an ERA of 2.56 and a WHIP of 0.97. In an average year, he is worth more than 3 fWAR. Based on that, he has been worth $108.7 million over the past four years. The performance also speaks to his stuff. Has he lost anything, velocity, spin, etc.? Well, Woodruff’s average fastball in 2019 was 96.3 mph. In 2022, it was 96.2 mph. He’s got a four-pitch mix. He’s got good control and command. So there are the reasons that the Brewers should absolutely want to lock up such a talented arm. In addition, anyone who has watched the playoffs knows that for a team to make a legitimate run toward a World Series title, they have to have at least two, and preferably three or four top starting pitchers. A big concern, especially with pitchers, has to be an injury. While past health doesn’t necessarily mean a pitcher will remain healthy, the track record is really all teams have to go by (although, they get access to his medicals before such expenditures are made). Brandon Woodruff has been on the Injured List three times. In 2019, he had an Oblique injury. In September of 2021, he was out with an illness. In May, he missed time with a sprained ankle. At that time, he confirmed that he had been diagnosed with Raynaud’s syndrome. It is a circulatory condition that causes numbness in the extremities due to reduced blood flow. While it doesn’t appear to have any real short or long-term effects, it is something to keep in mind. Comparable Contracts There have been a couple of long-term extensions for pitchers with similar success to Woodruff. Late this season, Luis Castillo signed a five-year, $108 million deal with a vesting option for 2028. Last November, the Blue Jays signed Jose Berrios to a seven-year, $131 million contract. Let’s start with the Berrios contract. The Puerto Rican right-hander had been acquired by Toronto from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. It certainly had to be a goal of the Blue Jays’ front office to keep him beyond the 2022 season. He was able to get a seven-year deal because he was about two years younger than Woodruff at the time of the deal. Luis Castillo is actually about three months older than Woodruff and their service time is very similar. Castillo has twice been an All Star and put up terrific numbers in Cincinnati. He was acquired by the Mariners before the trade deadline this year and pitched very well in a pennant race and in the playoffs. Castillo has three plus-pitches and his fastball is just a bit faster than Woodruff’s, but the Brewers’ co-ace has slightly better statistics. His FanGraphs WAR has been worth $112.3 million over the past four seasons. Berrios Castillo 2022 $10.70 2023 $15.70 $11.40 2024 $17.70 $24.15 2025 $18.70 $24.15 2026 $18.80 $24.15 2027 $24.70 $24.15 2028 $24.70 $25.00 There are a few things about these two agreements that the Brewers could choose to add to a Woodruff deal. For instance, if Castillo throws 180 or more innings in 2027, his $25 million contract vests. However, if he missed 130 or more days in 2025 through 2027 with a UCL injury, it becomes a $5 million team option. He has a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the deal, and if he’s traded over those final three years, he gets a $1 million bonus. Berrios has an opt-out after the 2026 season. There is a limited no-trade clause. He also has incentives in his deal based on his performance in 2025 and 2026 that could increase his 2027 and 2028 contracts by up to $5 million. So, let’s get to a proposal I would send to Woodruff and his agents and advisors. Age Salary Signing Bonus Total 2023 29 $10.50 $1.50 $12.00 2024 30 $21.00 $1.50 $22.50 2025 31 $21.50 $1.50 $23.00 2026 32 $22.00 $1.25 $23.25 2027 33 $23.00 $1.25 $24.25 2028 34 $25.00 buyout $5 This contract is incredibly similar to Castillo’s overall. I’ve included signing bonuses for each season. It would guarantee Woodruff five years and $110 million, an average annual value of $22 million. I personally like to include a team option or two, and in this case, I have an option for a sixth season at $25 million with a $5 million buyout. So, the contract could be worth $130 million over six seasons. I think that deal, if it could be completed, would be a home run for the Brewers and a very fair deal for Woodruff. Maybe a home run for both? So what do you think? Is this a contract that you would feel comfortable with the Brewers offering Brandon Woodruff? If his side is willing to negotiate from there, fantastic. If they basically scoff at the offer, then the team should reach out to other organizations to see what his trade value is. If they’re not happy with the offers, then you offer him arbitration, have him pitch in 2023 for something around $10-12 million, and try again next offseason with the same three options. Your turn. Share your thoughts.
  9. The good news is that the Brewers are good. The bad news is that the clock is ticking on the Brewers' competitive window. That much is crystal clear when looking at the Brewers' rotation's payroll situation for 2023, even at a back-of-the-napkin level. Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports A mid-market MLB team's competitive window is highly dependent on the timing of their team control over impactful players. After accumulating six full years of service time, players become free agents, and the core of a winning team can crumble. In the Brewers' case, that potential deadline becomes clear as we look deeper into the salaries of the Brewers' starting rotation. This is Part 3 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders and outfielders and came up with a $74M commitment for next year. Today we add at starting pitching. Corbin Burnes made $6.5M last year in his first year in arbitration. This is only his second arbitration year (of three), meaning the team can keep him around through 2024 – provided they're willing to give him some pretty significant raises. That includes a boost to the $10-11M range next year. The team is equally fortunate to control Brandon Woodruff for two more years with all the same caveats. He's one of those lucky players who gets four years of arbitration, but the Brewers have used two of them, and he'll also likely reach around $10M next year in salary. Freddy Peralta would be in the same boat as Burnes and Woodruff with two more years of arbitration left, but he signed a guaranteed contract extension in 2020. That means the Brewers are only paying him $3.5M next year and can keep him under team control through 2026 at very reasonable salaries. Add Eric Lauer to the list of starting pitchers to whom the Brewers can offer arbitration for two more years. But because he hasn't been as effective, he's going to be quite a bit cheaper, closer to $5M for 2023. And believe it or not, there is one more. Adrian Houser will also qualify for arbitration for two more years. Last year, he lost his arbitration case and received a contract for about $2.4M. I don't know that it's a slam dunk that they offer a 29-year-old groundball pitcher with a 4.73 ERA arbitration. But I think they will, and they can expect to pay him about 3.5M or so. So four of the five pitchers, including the two aces, will be free agents following the 2024 season. In addition, our look at the Brewers' infield payroll showed that 2024 is also the year after which Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez will become free agents. That sure feels like the end of a competitive window. As we look at what the team might do to bolster itself for 2023, it's worth remembering that the core of the team could have a sudden and massive exodus in one or two years. Plugging those numbers into our spreadsheet, the team looks like this for 2023: We've topped the $100M mark and still haven't touched the rebuilt bullpen. Next, we'll see if Josh Hader's departure provides the team some salary space for other free agent signings. See any omissions or any issues with the numbers? I'd love to hear them. Just throw them or your reactions in the comments below. View full article
  10. A mid-market MLB team's competitive window is highly dependent on the timing of their team control over impactful players. After accumulating six full years of service time, players become free agents, and the core of a winning team can crumble. In the Brewers' case, that potential deadline becomes clear as we look deeper into the salaries of the Brewers' starting rotation. This is Part 3 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders and outfielders and came up with a $74M commitment for next year. Today we add at starting pitching. Corbin Burnes made $6.5M last year in his first year in arbitration. This is only his second arbitration year (of three), meaning the team can keep him around through 2024 – provided they're willing to give him some pretty significant raises. That includes a boost to the $10-11M range next year. The team is equally fortunate to control Brandon Woodruff for two more years with all the same caveats. He's one of those lucky players who gets four years of arbitration, but the Brewers have used two of them, and he'll also likely reach around $10M next year in salary. Freddy Peralta would be in the same boat as Burnes and Woodruff with two more years of arbitration left, but he signed a guaranteed contract extension in 2020. That means the Brewers are only paying him $3.5M next year and can keep him under team control through 2026 at very reasonable salaries. Add Eric Lauer to the list of starting pitchers to whom the Brewers can offer arbitration for two more years. But because he hasn't been as effective, he's going to be quite a bit cheaper, closer to $5M for 2023. And believe it or not, there is one more. Adrian Houser will also qualify for arbitration for two more years. Last year, he lost his arbitration case and received a contract for about $2.4M. I don't know that it's a slam dunk that they offer a 29-year-old groundball pitcher with a 4.73 ERA arbitration. But I think they will, and they can expect to pay him about 3.5M or so. So four of the five pitchers, including the two aces, will be free agents following the 2024 season. In addition, our look at the Brewers' infield payroll showed that 2024 is also the year after which Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez will become free agents. That sure feels like the end of a competitive window. As we look at what the team might do to bolster itself for 2023, it's worth remembering that the core of the team could have a sudden and massive exodus in one or two years. Plugging those numbers into our spreadsheet, the team looks like this for 2023: We've topped the $100M mark and still haven't touched the rebuilt bullpen. Next, we'll see if Josh Hader's departure provides the team some salary space for other free agent signings. See any omissions or any issues with the numbers? I'd love to hear them. Just throw them or your reactions in the comments below.
  11. The Milwaukee Brewers Best Rookie and Most Improved, as voted by Brewer Fanatic staff, have been revealed. We find our way once again on the mound where Corbin Burnes follows up his 2021 Cy Young Award-winning season with the 2022 Brewer Fanatic Pitcher of the Year Award. I'm sure it's just as meaningful to the 27-year-old. Before we get into Corbin Burnes’ 2022 season, let’s get into who he beat out in Pitcher of the Year voting, starting with a couple of Honorable Mentions. Honorable Mentions Eric Lauer and Hoby Milner just missed out on the top three. Lauer had a great season, starting the second-most games for the Brewers and having an ERA of 3.69. He surely would have ranked higher if it weren’t for those blow-up starts. Milner was named Brewer Fanatic's Most Improved Player and has previously been discussed in this series of articles (which you should definitely go back and read), but was heavily used. His 67 games pitched was second most on the team. He finished with a 3.72 ERA. Others receiving votes: Josh Hader and Freddy Peralta. 3rd: Devin Williams 6-4, 1.93 ERA, 60 2/3 IP, 14.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9 Devin Williams earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022 after struggling with command to start the season. He recovered and went on to be dominant and became the primary closer following Josh Hader’s departure. Things were bumpy, but he still compiled 15 saves (and was charged with two blown saves). Williams struck out 40.0% of batters faced, and had a WHIP of 1.01 to go along with his 2.01 FIP. 2nd: Brandon Woodruff 13-4, 3.05 ERA, 153 1/3 IP, 11.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.2 H/9, 1.1 HR/9 Despite missing a month due to a well documented injury, Brandon Woodruff went on to be an important contributor and very consistent. After a poor first outing of the season in which he allowed 7 runs across 3.2 innings, Woody would only have 3 other outings where he allowed more than 3. 15 of his 27 games were quality starts, which was second best on the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite his very good numbers, he was let down a little by relievers who came in to clean up any mess, as 9 of his runners which were inherited went on to score. He is the only player besides Burnes to receive a 1st place vote. Expect more good to come! Pitcher of the Year - Corbin Burnes 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 202.0 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.4 H/9, 1.0 HR/9 A big question mark going into the season was Corbin Burnes’ durability. Even though he had won the 2021 Cy Young Award, he pitched less than 200 innings, one of 17 pitchers to win the award with that (including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and strike-shortened 1984 season). These concerns were silenced, as he paced the league - along with Gerrit Cole, Nick Pivetta, and Merrill Kelly - with 33 games started and fourth in innings pitched with 202.0 innings. Burnes had a fantastic 21 quality starts, good for eighth across the league and his 243 strikeouts were second, only behind Cole. There were some minor struggles for the Brewers’ ace, but a dominant eight-inning performance against the Miami Marlins on September 30th, resulting in a 1-0 win over fellow Cy Young Award contender Sandy Alcantara cemented his place as best overall pitcher. Your turn... There probably isn't going to be much, if any, argument about the selection of Corbin Burnes as Pitcher of the Year. How would you rank the top three or four Brewers pitchers in 2022? View full article
  12. Before we get into Corbin Burnes’ 2022 season, let’s get into who he beat out in Pitcher of the Year voting, starting with a couple of Honorable Mentions. Honorable Mentions Eric Lauer and Hoby Milner just missed out on the top three. Lauer had a great season, starting the second-most games for the Brewers and having an ERA of 3.69. He surely would have ranked higher if it weren’t for those blow-up starts. Milner was named Brewer Fanatic's Most Improved Player and has previously been discussed in this series of articles (which you should definitely go back and read), but was heavily used. His 67 games pitched was second most on the team. He finished with a 3.72 ERA. Others receiving votes: Josh Hader and Freddy Peralta. 3rd: Devin Williams 6-4, 1.93 ERA, 60 2/3 IP, 14.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9 Devin Williams earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022 after struggling with command to start the season. He recovered and went on to be dominant and became the primary closer following Josh Hader’s departure. Things were bumpy, but he still compiled 15 saves (and was charged with two blown saves). Williams struck out 40.0% of batters faced, and had a WHIP of 1.01 to go along with his 2.01 FIP. 2nd: Brandon Woodruff 13-4, 3.05 ERA, 153 1/3 IP, 11.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.2 H/9, 1.1 HR/9 Despite missing a month due to a well documented injury, Brandon Woodruff went on to be an important contributor and very consistent. After a poor first outing of the season in which he allowed 7 runs across 3.2 innings, Woody would only have 3 other outings where he allowed more than 3. 15 of his 27 games were quality starts, which was second best on the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite his very good numbers, he was let down a little by relievers who came in to clean up any mess, as 9 of his runners which were inherited went on to score. He is the only player besides Burnes to receive a 1st place vote. Expect more good to come! Pitcher of the Year - Corbin Burnes 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 202.0 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.4 H/9, 1.0 HR/9 A big question mark going into the season was Corbin Burnes’ durability. Even though he had won the 2021 Cy Young Award, he pitched less than 200 innings, one of 17 pitchers to win the award with that (including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and strike-shortened 1984 season). These concerns were silenced, as he paced the league - along with Gerrit Cole, Nick Pivetta, and Merrill Kelly - with 33 games started and fourth in innings pitched with 202.0 innings. Burnes had a fantastic 21 quality starts, good for eighth across the league and his 243 strikeouts were second, only behind Cole. There were some minor struggles for the Brewers’ ace, but a dominant eight-inning performance against the Miami Marlins on September 30th, resulting in a 1-0 win over fellow Cy Young Award contender Sandy Alcantara cemented his place as best overall pitcher. Your turn... There probably isn't going to be much, if any, argument about the selection of Corbin Burnes as Pitcher of the Year. How would you rank the top three or four Brewers pitchers in 2022?
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. While the Milwaukee Brewers' offense has flaws and can frustrate the fans on any given night, the pitching has been the bigger problem. More specifically, the group of men expected to dominate opponents this year has come up short. From a pure run-scoring perspective, the Brewers' offense is essentially the same as last year. In 2021, Milwaukee scored 4.56 runs/game compared to 4.55 this season. However, the run-scoring environment in MLB is tougher in 2022, so the Brewers rank eighth in runs this season versus 12th last year. You can point to various issues with the offense and the number of games they score fewer than three runs, but overall it's hard to complain about a top-10 offense in baseball. Turning to the pitching staff and many may be surprised by the mediocre numbers. The club's 3.87 team ERA is right in the middle of MLB pitching. While ERA doesn't tell the whole story, it says a lot that Milwaukee ranked third last season in ERA at 3.50 overall. For a team that's championship aspirations are built on dominating hurlers, a dip from third to 14th in ERA is devastating. Where has it gone wrong? The first thought likely turns to the bullpen, where things have seemingly been more tumultuous than usual. Devin Williams got off to a terrible start, Brent Suter was below average most of the first half, and Brad Boxberger has looked worn down for much of the last couple of months. Throw in the usual spate of injuries, the shocking trade of Josh Hader (who was already scuffling), and the predictable issues of many others, and one would believe the relievers are the main problem. Without diving into advanced statistics, the numbers say otherwise. This simple look at the bullpen basically puts them in the same range as last season. Part of it stems from manager Craig Counsell and his strategies to limit the use of his best relievers in low leverage situations. Perhaps the back end of the bullpen has been slightly less reliable this season, but it could also be that they have been put in too many tight spots to hold up. Some of that is a lack of run-scoring, but it also falls on the starting rotation to give the relievers some breathing room. Milwaukee's starters have been the more significant problem - and it's not close. Led by Cy Young hurler Corbin Burnes, the rotation was expected to be among the best in baseball once again. It hasn't gone so well. It's quite shocking to see the stats next to each other from the past two seasons. If we people told us the Brewers' starters would be a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2022, most would have felt fortunate if Milwaukee was even in the hunt for a postseason berth. The St. Louis Cardinals might be tough to catch at this point, but that doesn't mean the season's over. With a month to play and the Wild Card still easily in sight, a spot in the postseason will come down to better, more consistent starting pitching. With essentially the same rotation as last season, the drop in performance lies mainly with those returning arms and some areas they struggled in. Now, when you scroll through these five pitchers and compare their ERAs from this year to last year, keep one thing in mind: the league-wide ERA is 0.28 lower this season than it was in 2021. So as disappointing as the ERA spikes have been, the drop in production is even more dismal than the raw stats show. CORBIN BURNES - 2.84 ERA (2.43 in 2021) The reigning Cy Young is allowing the highest fly ball percentage (FB%) in his career (36.5%). Opponents also have their best hard-hit percentage against Burnes since his disastrous 2019 campaign. Putting those two pieces together has played a prominent role in Burnes' disturbing trend of giving up gopher balls. Last year, Burnes allowed seven home runs for the entire season. With a month to go, he has already given up 19 dingers in 2022. BRANDON WOODRUFF - 3.31 ERA (2.56 in 2021) Woody has been terrific since returning from injury. However, when he has struggled, it has been due to walks. Woodruff owns a 7.2% walk rate (BB%), the highest in a season since 2018 for the righty. In each of the previous three seasons, he has finished with a 6.1 BB%. Allowing more bases runners and driving up his pitch count has led to the worse ERA and throwing the fewest amount of innings per start since 2018. ERIC LAUER - 3.58 ERA (3.19 in 2021) After getting off to a Cy Young-worthy start to the season, Lauer quickly fell back to Earth and has been about the same as last year. His biggest issue, like Burnes, has been the home run ball. Among qualified pitchers in MLB, Lauer has the highest home run per nine innings rate at 1.7 HR/9. With his BB% up and his K% down from last season, the long ball has taken a greater toll and dinged his ERA even more than in 2022. ADRIAN HOUSER - 5.15 ERA (3.22 in 2021) Houser has looked the worst of the five typical starters, even before his injury and one start upon return. His 5.15 ERA this season is driven by allowing the highest percentage of line drives and fly balls since becoming a regular starter. As a pitcher who relies heavily on getting ground balls with his sinker, when opponents get more balls in the air, they tend to be hit well and cause plenty of damage. FREDDY PERALTA - 3.56 (2.81 in 2021) Fastball Freddy has only thrown 68.1 frames due to time on the IL with a strained right lat. However, it also sticks out that his strikeout percentage (K%) is easily the worst of his career. At 26.9%, his K% is five percent below his career mark. It's difficult to fairly evaluate Peralta having had so much time off, but the dip in strikeouts during his brief time has taken away from his potential dominance. As you can see, the starters haven't been able to keep up the near-historic performances they displayed in 2022. While many of the numbers are still solid or respectable, the dip impacts the outcomes of games. Especially, as noted earlier, when it comes to the pressure on the relievers to be almost perfect on a nightly basis. Instead of handing the bullpen a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning this year, it's more likely a 4-4 game or 4-3 where the relievers have little-to-no margin for error. As much as people (like me) complained about President of Baseball Operations David Stearns's inability to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, maybe a starting pitcher would have been more valuable. That is a moot point now. Ultimately, this is the group that has to put up or shut up. Because baseball has so many individualized aspects to it, people often forget it is a team sport where each performance and action impacts others on the club. Indeed, the offense could find a hot streak to carry the team down the stretch, or the bullpen could become a lockdown beast for a month. However, if the Brewers are going to find their way deep into October, keep an eye on the starting pitchers, as they will set the tone for everything going forward. View full article
  16. From a pure run-scoring perspective, the Brewers' offense is essentially the same as last year. In 2021, Milwaukee scored 4.56 runs/game compared to 4.55 this season. However, the run-scoring environment in MLB is tougher in 2022, so the Brewers rank eighth in runs this season versus 12th last year. You can point to various issues with the offense and the number of games they score fewer than three runs, but overall it's hard to complain about a top-10 offense in baseball. Turning to the pitching staff and many may be surprised by the mediocre numbers. The club's 3.87 team ERA is right in the middle of MLB pitching. While ERA doesn't tell the whole story, it says a lot that Milwaukee ranked third last season in ERA at 3.50 overall. For a team that's championship aspirations are built on dominating hurlers, a dip from third to 14th in ERA is devastating. Where has it gone wrong? The first thought likely turns to the bullpen, where things have seemingly been more tumultuous than usual. Devin Williams got off to a terrible start, Brent Suter was below average most of the first half, and Brad Boxberger has looked worn down for much of the last couple of months. Throw in the usual spate of injuries, the shocking trade of Josh Hader (who was already scuffling), and the predictable issues of many others, and one would believe the relievers are the main problem. Without diving into advanced statistics, the numbers say otherwise. This simple look at the bullpen basically puts them in the same range as last season. Part of it stems from manager Craig Counsell and his strategies to limit the use of his best relievers in low leverage situations. Perhaps the back end of the bullpen has been slightly less reliable this season, but it could also be that they have been put in too many tight spots to hold up. Some of that is a lack of run-scoring, but it also falls on the starting rotation to give the relievers some breathing room. Milwaukee's starters have been the more significant problem - and it's not close. Led by Cy Young hurler Corbin Burnes, the rotation was expected to be among the best in baseball once again. It hasn't gone so well. It's quite shocking to see the stats next to each other from the past two seasons. If we people told us the Brewers' starters would be a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2022, most would have felt fortunate if Milwaukee was even in the hunt for a postseason berth. The St. Louis Cardinals might be tough to catch at this point, but that doesn't mean the season's over. With a month to play and the Wild Card still easily in sight, a spot in the postseason will come down to better, more consistent starting pitching. With essentially the same rotation as last season, the drop in performance lies mainly with those returning arms and some areas they struggled in. Now, when you scroll through these five pitchers and compare their ERAs from this year to last year, keep one thing in mind: the league-wide ERA is 0.28 lower this season than it was in 2021. So as disappointing as the ERA spikes have been, the drop in production is even more dismal than the raw stats show. CORBIN BURNES - 2.84 ERA (2.43 in 2021) The reigning Cy Young is allowing the highest fly ball percentage (FB%) in his career (36.5%). Opponents also have their best hard-hit percentage against Burnes since his disastrous 2019 campaign. Putting those two pieces together has played a prominent role in Burnes' disturbing trend of giving up gopher balls. Last year, Burnes allowed seven home runs for the entire season. With a month to go, he has already given up 19 dingers in 2022. BRANDON WOODRUFF - 3.31 ERA (2.56 in 2021) Woody has been terrific since returning from injury. However, when he has struggled, it has been due to walks. Woodruff owns a 7.2% walk rate (BB%), the highest in a season since 2018 for the righty. In each of the previous three seasons, he has finished with a 6.1 BB%. Allowing more bases runners and driving up his pitch count has led to the worse ERA and throwing the fewest amount of innings per start since 2018. ERIC LAUER - 3.58 ERA (3.19 in 2021) After getting off to a Cy Young-worthy start to the season, Lauer quickly fell back to Earth and has been about the same as last year. His biggest issue, like Burnes, has been the home run ball. Among qualified pitchers in MLB, Lauer has the highest home run per nine innings rate at 1.7 HR/9. With his BB% up and his K% down from last season, the long ball has taken a greater toll and dinged his ERA even more than in 2022. ADRIAN HOUSER - 5.15 ERA (3.22 in 2021) Houser has looked the worst of the five typical starters, even before his injury and one start upon return. His 5.15 ERA this season is driven by allowing the highest percentage of line drives and fly balls since becoming a regular starter. As a pitcher who relies heavily on getting ground balls with his sinker, when opponents get more balls in the air, they tend to be hit well and cause plenty of damage. FREDDY PERALTA - 3.56 (2.81 in 2021) Fastball Freddy has only thrown 68.1 frames due to time on the IL with a strained right lat. However, it also sticks out that his strikeout percentage (K%) is easily the worst of his career. At 26.9%, his K% is five percent below his career mark. It's difficult to fairly evaluate Peralta having had so much time off, but the dip in strikeouts during his brief time has taken away from his potential dominance. As you can see, the starters haven't been able to keep up the near-historic performances they displayed in 2022. While many of the numbers are still solid or respectable, the dip impacts the outcomes of games. Especially, as noted earlier, when it comes to the pressure on the relievers to be almost perfect on a nightly basis. Instead of handing the bullpen a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning this year, it's more likely a 4-4 game or 4-3 where the relievers have little-to-no margin for error. As much as people (like me) complained about President of Baseball Operations David Stearns's inability to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, maybe a starting pitcher would have been more valuable. That is a moot point now. Ultimately, this is the group that has to put up or shut up. Because baseball has so many individualized aspects to it, people often forget it is a team sport where each performance and action impacts others on the club. Indeed, the offense could find a hot streak to carry the team down the stretch, or the bullpen could become a lockdown beast for a month. However, if the Brewers are going to find their way deep into October, keep an eye on the starting pitchers, as they will set the tone for everything going forward.
  17. After a split against the Dodgers, the Brewers emerge in roughly the same place in the standings, but now with less time to make up ground. Can they make up ground in enemy territory when they take on the Cubs in Wrigley for a three-game weekend series? The All-Star break is artificially respected as the halfway point of the season. In truth, all of the fanfare and revelry of those mid-July festivities occur just slightly after the actual halfway point. Nevertheless, two truths exist at the same time: the All-Star break just ended, and the season’s wind down period is in full promenade. In baseball parlance, “wind down” is misleading. The races heat up, and every game, inning and pitch has a condensed sense of importance. The Cubs won’t be playing meaningful baseball in October, and even after a spunky split-series performance against the Dodgers, the Brewers' playoff status is precarious. Can the fierce rivalry manifest some luck for the Crew, or send their tailspin in a terminal trajectory? Friday August 19th Aaron Ashby (2-10 4.24 ERA) Keegan Thompson (9-5 3.67 ERA) Aaron Ashby’s definitive trajectory won’t be determined by two games, but there were whispers of hopeful things to come in his most recent high-pressure start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Throwing with enhanced control, Ashby managed a quality start; on the back of three hits and two runs, it was ultimately a no-decision. Squaring off against Ashby is middling righty Keegan Thompson. Along with a 1.4 WAR and 8.4 H/9, Thompson brings with him a bit of notoriety for throwing at Andrew McCutchen very early in the season. Of his 100.2 IP this season, 1.2 were collected in his most recent start, where he labored for over 70 pitches to retire only five hitters. Saturday August 20th Freddy Peralta (4-3 4.21 ERA) Marcus Stroman (3-5 3.96 ERA) It was a game of “onlys” for Freddiy Peralta in his most recent start. Against the Dodgers he only lasted four innings, surrendering only one run on a Freddy Freeman solo shot. He gave up only one more hit after that. The only non-only for Peralta was, concerningly, in the walks department. Four walks in as many innings, because of his 92 pitches, only 51 were strikes. The first year of Marcus Stroman’s contract as a Chicago Cub has been as unremarkable as the North Sider’s season itself. His ERA was recently pushed just south of four; the FIP at 3.87 is just the tiniest bit lower. In Stroman’s most recent start, four runs were surrendered, but none were earned. This feels like a microcosm of the Cubs season generally. Sunday August 21st Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.53 ERA) Justin Steele (4-7 3.43 ERA) It wasn’t categorically dominant, but Brandon Woodruff managed to stave off domination at the hands of the monstrous Dodgers. He managed to keep Los Angeles shut out until the fifth inning, where he’d eventually surrender dingers to a resurgent Joey Gallo and an always otherworldly Mookie Betts. Suffice to say, the Cubs should post a less pressing challenge. Justin Steele’s last two starts have been against a very bad Nationals team and he was appropriately effective in each start. All-in-all, the young Steele is enjoying a very capable sophomore campaign and, while there might not be a lot of flash to enjoy in the immediate, it’s worth keeping an eye on a player who looks poised to perform well for a division foe for years to come. Players To Watch Nico Hoerner: Watching All-Star snub Nico Hoerner is an inspiring exercise. Despite the fact that the Cubs are functionally moot in terms of competition, Hoerner takes the field with something to prove. Now that Javier Baez has taken his talents to the Detroit Tigers, Hoerner is the mainstay at shortstop. He’s batting .380 in the month of August, and has accumulated more WAR than any position player the Brewers have on the field. Willson Contreras: As one fraternal catching dynasty in the Molina clan winds down, a new one in the Contreras’ clan is just getting started. Atlanta Braves backstop William Contreras quietly started the All-Star game this year, while his big brother Willson (also an All-Star this year) was the subject of raised eyebrows after being mysteriously untraded at the deadline despite impending free agency. If it is indeed in the plans, keeping an asset like Contreras for the long-term makes perfect sense for the Cubs, as his passionate gameplay has helped substantiate himself as a thorn in the side for anyone who opposes him. Matt Bush: The acquisition of this storied righty largely flew under the radar, but there is something worth paying attention to in Matt Bush. He owns a solid 51:12 k/bb ratio, and a WHIP just above one. These aren’t particularly sexy stats, but with savvy bullpen management, Bush’s true asset, versatility, comes to life. Josh Hader was at his strongest when he could come in mid-game, snag a high leverage out or two, or close out the game. Bush won’t ever be as flashy as peak Hader, but where Hader eventually evolved exclusively into a closer, Bush can still pitch whenever he’s needed. Christian Yelich: There’s no equivalent around a .042 batting average in a 10-game stretch. That the hit was a well-demolished home run is exemplary of the kind of frustration Yelich has produced over the last couple of seasons. Still, there are reasons to be skeptical of how actually “bad” he is. It’s worth mentioning that Yelich leads the team in stolen bases (16) and runs created (61.56). It still feels like there is something Yelich can return to to perform at an upper-tier. Predictions Predicting anything in baseball is obviously folly. No one would have predicted at the beginning of the season, or even three weeks ago that the Cleveland Guardians would be leading the AL Central on August 18th. No one would have predicted that Corbin Burnes would switch candidacies from DFA to Cy Young in a season and a half's time. Logic and statistics would dictate that the Brewers are substantially better than the Cubs and should sweep them, but these Brewers just can’t dominate these mediocre to bad teams. I’ll say the Brewer take two of three. In Summary It’s mid-August, just through the dog days of summer, and the 2022 Milwaukee Brewers are the sad puppy in the rain looking from the outside in on an expanded playoff field. The trade deadline was itself a whimper and the deflated play since then reflected its neutered tone. Enough dog metaphors. Simply stated: the Brewers need to win, and win confidently. The Brewers need to step into Wrigley Field and own it like it was their home turf. The Cubs are a cobbling together of competent, but not elite, talents. Justin Steele and Patrick Wisdom are not Devin Williams and Willy Adames. The Brewers need to wrangle their potential and play like the better team that they are, or the season is already over. View full article
  18. The All-Star break is artificially respected as the halfway point of the season. In truth, all of the fanfare and revelry of those mid-July festivities occur just slightly after the actual halfway point. Nevertheless, two truths exist at the same time: the All-Star break just ended, and the season’s wind down period is in full promenade. In baseball parlance, “wind down” is misleading. The races heat up, and every game, inning and pitch has a condensed sense of importance. The Cubs won’t be playing meaningful baseball in October, and even after a spunky split-series performance against the Dodgers, the Brewers' playoff status is precarious. Can the fierce rivalry manifest some luck for the Crew, or send their tailspin in a terminal trajectory? Friday August 19th Aaron Ashby (2-10 4.24 ERA) Keegan Thompson (9-5 3.67 ERA) Aaron Ashby’s definitive trajectory won’t be determined by two games, but there were whispers of hopeful things to come in his most recent high-pressure start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Throwing with enhanced control, Ashby managed a quality start; on the back of three hits and two runs, it was ultimately a no-decision. Squaring off against Ashby is middling righty Keegan Thompson. Along with a 1.4 WAR and 8.4 H/9, Thompson brings with him a bit of notoriety for throwing at Andrew McCutchen very early in the season. Of his 100.2 IP this season, 1.2 were collected in his most recent start, where he labored for over 70 pitches to retire only five hitters. Saturday August 20th Freddy Peralta (4-3 4.21 ERA) Marcus Stroman (3-5 3.96 ERA) It was a game of “onlys” for Freddiy Peralta in his most recent start. Against the Dodgers he only lasted four innings, surrendering only one run on a Freddy Freeman solo shot. He gave up only one more hit after that. The only non-only for Peralta was, concerningly, in the walks department. Four walks in as many innings, because of his 92 pitches, only 51 were strikes. The first year of Marcus Stroman’s contract as a Chicago Cub has been as unremarkable as the North Sider’s season itself. His ERA was recently pushed just south of four; the FIP at 3.87 is just the tiniest bit lower. In Stroman’s most recent start, four runs were surrendered, but none were earned. This feels like a microcosm of the Cubs season generally. Sunday August 21st Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.53 ERA) Justin Steele (4-7 3.43 ERA) It wasn’t categorically dominant, but Brandon Woodruff managed to stave off domination at the hands of the monstrous Dodgers. He managed to keep Los Angeles shut out until the fifth inning, where he’d eventually surrender dingers to a resurgent Joey Gallo and an always otherworldly Mookie Betts. Suffice to say, the Cubs should post a less pressing challenge. Justin Steele’s last two starts have been against a very bad Nationals team and he was appropriately effective in each start. All-in-all, the young Steele is enjoying a very capable sophomore campaign and, while there might not be a lot of flash to enjoy in the immediate, it’s worth keeping an eye on a player who looks poised to perform well for a division foe for years to come. Players To Watch Nico Hoerner: Watching All-Star snub Nico Hoerner is an inspiring exercise. Despite the fact that the Cubs are functionally moot in terms of competition, Hoerner takes the field with something to prove. Now that Javier Baez has taken his talents to the Detroit Tigers, Hoerner is the mainstay at shortstop. He’s batting .380 in the month of August, and has accumulated more WAR than any position player the Brewers have on the field. Willson Contreras: As one fraternal catching dynasty in the Molina clan winds down, a new one in the Contreras’ clan is just getting started. Atlanta Braves backstop William Contreras quietly started the All-Star game this year, while his big brother Willson (also an All-Star this year) was the subject of raised eyebrows after being mysteriously untraded at the deadline despite impending free agency. If it is indeed in the plans, keeping an asset like Contreras for the long-term makes perfect sense for the Cubs, as his passionate gameplay has helped substantiate himself as a thorn in the side for anyone who opposes him. Matt Bush: The acquisition of this storied righty largely flew under the radar, but there is something worth paying attention to in Matt Bush. He owns a solid 51:12 k/bb ratio, and a WHIP just above one. These aren’t particularly sexy stats, but with savvy bullpen management, Bush’s true asset, versatility, comes to life. Josh Hader was at his strongest when he could come in mid-game, snag a high leverage out or two, or close out the game. Bush won’t ever be as flashy as peak Hader, but where Hader eventually evolved exclusively into a closer, Bush can still pitch whenever he’s needed. Christian Yelich: There’s no equivalent around a .042 batting average in a 10-game stretch. That the hit was a well-demolished home run is exemplary of the kind of frustration Yelich has produced over the last couple of seasons. Still, there are reasons to be skeptical of how actually “bad” he is. It’s worth mentioning that Yelich leads the team in stolen bases (16) and runs created (61.56). It still feels like there is something Yelich can return to to perform at an upper-tier. Predictions Predicting anything in baseball is obviously folly. No one would have predicted at the beginning of the season, or even three weeks ago that the Cleveland Guardians would be leading the AL Central on August 18th. No one would have predicted that Corbin Burnes would switch candidacies from DFA to Cy Young in a season and a half's time. Logic and statistics would dictate that the Brewers are substantially better than the Cubs and should sweep them, but these Brewers just can’t dominate these mediocre to bad teams. I’ll say the Brewer take two of three. In Summary It’s mid-August, just through the dog days of summer, and the 2022 Milwaukee Brewers are the sad puppy in the rain looking from the outside in on an expanded playoff field. The trade deadline was itself a whimper and the deflated play since then reflected its neutered tone. Enough dog metaphors. Simply stated: the Brewers need to win, and win confidently. The Brewers need to step into Wrigley Field and own it like it was their home turf. The Cubs are a cobbling together of competent, but not elite, talents. Justin Steele and Patrick Wisdom are not Devin Williams and Willy Adames. The Brewers need to wrangle their potential and play like the better team that they are, or the season is already over.
  19. I start this week’s column with a clear proposition: the Milwaukee Brewers have a talented pitching staff. I do not want this to be in any way misunderstood. The rotation still has long-term upside: Corbin Burnes is not yet a finished product (imagine that!), while Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta are still working to sort out how to best navigate lineups deep into contests. Adrian Houser has a ceiling as a decent #2, solid #3, advantageous #4 pitcher in a rotation, but hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together yet. The Weekly Dispatch is a column on the Brewers. 'On' may do heavier lifting on some weeks than others. The key players out of the bullpen are also solid to exceptional. Newly-extended Aaron Ashby remains a work in progress, but the Brewers’ faith in his ability to become a consistent force and enter the rotation in the future is not unjustified. Brad Boxberger, while obscenely overused in 2022, remains reliable out of the bullpen. Devin Williams has been given center stage after Josh Hader was inexplicably traded to the Padres for damaged goods and prospects. If it wasn’t obvious before that the Brewers’ front office assumed 2022 would be a facsimile of an all-time franchise best 2021, it is now. Assuming a lack of injury, that the league wouldn’t in some ways catch up to their formidable starters and bullpen, that run prevention would be as effective as it has been, that the stuff would be as crisp as ever, was folly. Not bolstering the offense beyond adding Hunter Renfroe in the offseason, or getting an impact bat or two at any time before the trade deadline only added pressure to a staff that had more than contributed their share to the club’s unprecedented fourth-consecutive postseason appearance. David Stearns and Matt Arnold tried to get blood from turnips, and their patience ran out as evidenced by the Hader trade. And, in some ways, they may have signaled a fatalist approach to a meat grinder 31 games in 31 days. The Brewers’ pitching staff entering play Saturday is second in the National League in hits allowed (864) and third in strikeouts (1043), but tenth in walks and 11th in home runs (365, 126). This talented, vaunted corps musters only a 106 adjusted ERA, falling well short of the 120 achievement from last year’s franchise-best staff. Yes, part of that is missing Peralta and Houser for stretches, Ethan Small’s struggles and needing to rely on Chi Chi Gonzalez to provide meaningful, productive innings, but injuries and regression are both parts of baseball life and it’s exceptionally difficult to meet historic bests in consecutive years. I projected out how this pitching staff may finish the season based on numbers through Friday night: 1456 strikeouts, 1422 hits, 530 walks, 186 home runs and a consistent 106 ERA+. No team in the expansion era has met or exceeded those counting numbers except the 2019 Boston Red Sox. They finished 84-78, third in the American League Central and had the luxury of an offensive core featuring Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Their adjusted ERA? 104. It should come as no surprise that all the talk from the team about a World Series before and after the All-Star break has abruptly stopped. Further, while the eye test indicates defensive regression, ERA to FIP is relatively flat (3.84, 3.90), while it should also be noted that the SIERA-to-ERA contrast suggests defensive lapses have been a little more impactful (3.65) while being somewhat counterbalanced and perhaps disguised by the gaudy strikeout totals. It’s also possible that the Brewers’ philosophy with their starting pitchers is to actually emphasize pitch to contact, leaning too much on run prevention and the strikeouts are more a reflection of the era, or more bug than feature. The problem is that the Brewers’ three major starters and Ashby are strikeout guys, and asking them to nibble around the edges to induce contact is not the best way to utilize their respective repertoires. This could potentially explain the two-strike struggles Ashby has, as diagnosed excellently earlier this weekend here by Tim Muma, while also generally providing insight as to why impact strikeout guys aren’t getting efficient Ks, triggering shorter starts and overextending the Brewers’ beleaguered, triaged middle relief. Whatever happened to the wipeout pitch? Between an offense that generally struggles with run support and opponents’ seeming knack for driving balls in 2022 they weren’t in ‘21, while also outlasting Brewer pitchers with walks and base knocks, the pitching has no margin for error. Asking for excellence and effort is one thing, asking for perfection – while apparently being content with a deficient, bordering on broken offense – is another. Like getting blood from a turnip. Stathead and Fangraphs were used in informing this article.
  20. It’s been argued in this space before that the Milwaukee Brewers were asking too much of their pitching staff to repeat its high water mark 2021 season, which yielded Corbin Burnes a Cy Young Award and Josh Hader (another) Trevor Hoffman Award. A look at the numbers shows that to not only be the case, but that, save for a sudden change in performance, the Brewers’ vaunted pitching staff will be one of the reasons why they may well be on the outside looking in on October baseball. I start this week’s column with a clear proposition: the Milwaukee Brewers have a talented pitching staff. I do not want this to be in any way misunderstood. The rotation still has long-term upside: Corbin Burnes is not yet a finished product (imagine that!), while Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta are still working to sort out how to best navigate lineups deep into contests. Adrian Houser has a ceiling as a decent #2, solid #3, advantageous #4 pitcher in a rotation, but hasn’t been able to put all the pieces together yet. The Weekly Dispatch is a column on the Brewers. 'On' may do heavier lifting on some weeks than others. The key players out of the bullpen are also solid to exceptional. Newly-extended Aaron Ashby remains a work in progress, but the Brewers’ faith in his ability to become a consistent force and enter the rotation in the future is not unjustified. Brad Boxberger, while obscenely overused in 2022, remains reliable out of the bullpen. Devin Williams has been given center stage after Josh Hader was inexplicably traded to the Padres for damaged goods and prospects. If it wasn’t obvious before that the Brewers’ front office assumed 2022 would be a facsimile of an all-time franchise best 2021, it is now. Assuming a lack of injury, that the league wouldn’t in some ways catch up to their formidable starters and bullpen, that run prevention would be as effective as it has been, that the stuff would be as crisp as ever, was folly. Not bolstering the offense beyond adding Hunter Renfroe in the offseason, or getting an impact bat or two at any time before the trade deadline only added pressure to a staff that had more than contributed their share to the club’s unprecedented fourth-consecutive postseason appearance. David Stearns and Matt Arnold tried to get blood from turnips, and their patience ran out as evidenced by the Hader trade. And, in some ways, they may have signaled a fatalist approach to a meat grinder 31 games in 31 days. The Brewers’ pitching staff entering play Saturday is second in the National League in hits allowed (864) and third in strikeouts (1043), but tenth in walks and 11th in home runs (365, 126). This talented, vaunted corps musters only a 106 adjusted ERA, falling well short of the 120 achievement from last year’s franchise-best staff. Yes, part of that is missing Peralta and Houser for stretches, Ethan Small’s struggles and needing to rely on Chi Chi Gonzalez to provide meaningful, productive innings, but injuries and regression are both parts of baseball life and it’s exceptionally difficult to meet historic bests in consecutive years. I projected out how this pitching staff may finish the season based on numbers through Friday night: 1456 strikeouts, 1422 hits, 530 walks, 186 home runs and a consistent 106 ERA+. No team in the expansion era has met or exceeded those counting numbers except the 2019 Boston Red Sox. They finished 84-78, third in the American League Central and had the luxury of an offensive core featuring Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. Their adjusted ERA? 104. It should come as no surprise that all the talk from the team about a World Series before and after the All-Star break has abruptly stopped. Further, while the eye test indicates defensive regression, ERA to FIP is relatively flat (3.84, 3.90), while it should also be noted that the SIERA-to-ERA contrast suggests defensive lapses have been a little more impactful (3.65) while being somewhat counterbalanced and perhaps disguised by the gaudy strikeout totals. It’s also possible that the Brewers’ philosophy with their starting pitchers is to actually emphasize pitch to contact, leaning too much on run prevention and the strikeouts are more a reflection of the era, or more bug than feature. The problem is that the Brewers’ three major starters and Ashby are strikeout guys, and asking them to nibble around the edges to induce contact is not the best way to utilize their respective repertoires. This could potentially explain the two-strike struggles Ashby has, as diagnosed excellently earlier this weekend here by Tim Muma, while also generally providing insight as to why impact strikeout guys aren’t getting efficient Ks, triggering shorter starts and overextending the Brewers’ beleaguered, triaged middle relief. Whatever happened to the wipeout pitch? Between an offense that generally struggles with run support and opponents’ seeming knack for driving balls in 2022 they weren’t in ‘21, while also outlasting Brewer pitchers with walks and base knocks, the pitching has no margin for error. Asking for excellence and effort is one thing, asking for perfection – while apparently being content with a deficient, bordering on broken offense – is another. Like getting blood from a turnip. Stathead and Fangraphs were used in informing this article. View full article
  21. Bent but not totally broken, the Brewers are in the middle of a rough stretch that harkens back to June. The Brewers are losing, and losing to bad teams, most recently a sweep against the Pirates and losing two of three to a piecemeal Cincinnati team. Now a legitimate threat comes to town in the Rays, who have a 57-50 record in the toughest division in baseball. If there is a saving grace it’s that Tampa Bay is mightily banged up, but considering recent performances against teams in even worse standing, the question has to be asked: does it matter? It’s just a two-game series, but with recent struggles it feels pivotal. Can the Brewers batten down the hatches and right the ship, or are they going to sink further out of the standings and out of postseason viability for good? Let’s check out the match-ups. Tuesday August 9th Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.49 ERA) Jeffrey Springs (4-3 2.50 ERA) Despite having been a steady hand during trepidatious times, Brandon Woodruff fit the team-wide motif of mediocre last Thursday in Pittsburgh. Three earned runs, a no-decision, three strike outs and, concerningly, just as many walks. When a truly solid pitcher throws a snoozer it’s important not to react, but given the sudden and stark trajectory of things, it will be important for Woodruff to wrench all of the talent he can to dominate a capable Rays lineup. Jeffrey Springs is a typical Rays' asset. This is to say that he has flown under the radar and was grabbed on the waiver wire after being DFA’d by another team (in this case the Red Sox) and developed into a high-caliber performer. Now in his fifth season, Springs is enjoying a career best 2.50 built on a 1.08 WHIP, which is further built on a stunning walk rate of 5%, putting him in the 90th percentile for the entire league. Wednesday August 10th Freddy Peralta (3-2 4.46 ERA) Ryan Yarbrough (0-6 4.89 ERA) As detailed below, the Freddy Peralta we’re bound to get on Wednesday is anyone’s guess. One year separated from an All-Star appearance Peralta is objectionably capable of deceptive, dominant pitching when healthy. Unfortunately the Brewers young righty followed the team into a stumbling, brief start against the lowly Pirates in his previous start, ultimately taking a no decision. With hopefully a longer leash, and not a particularly competitive pitcher countering him, last year’s All-Star can summon some of that power. Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough is having a bit of a season to forget. He comes equipped with four pitches, a cutter, slider, change and 4-seamer, none of which have been used to spectacular effect. The 4.89 ERA is almost identical to his FIP (4.93) and while the Rays can be grateful for his endurance, his efficacy is never a sure thing. That said, Yarbrough did manage to keep a spunky Orioles lineup to four hits and eight K’s in what would ultimately be a loss in his penultimate start. A performance like that could sink the downtrodden Crew. Players To Watch Keston Hiura : I’m not sure what Hiura has done to Craig Counsell or the front office to keep faith in him so consistently down. The strikeout rate is a truly alarming 43.5%, but considering production struggles have been a season-long malady for the Brewers, it feels like Hiura is disproportionately singled out to be optioned or pulled from games. It will be interesting to see if the script is flipped if the Crew can get to the two lefty starters early enough that Keston and his righty crushing ways get put into a game instead of taken out for once. Peralta: He was not the sharpest in his return from a lengthy IL stint against the Pirates, but that was the whole M.O. for the downtrodden Brewers. This start feels urgent and eminently more important for the trajectory than the previous one, and it will be interesting to see what form the Peralta arsenal takes under such fraught conditions. Randy Arozarena : Last year’s Rookie Of The Year is having a bit of a slide from last year’s production but can still swing a bat. Over the last couple of weeks he’s put up a .317/.379/.467 line, and aims to be a handful if he keeps it up in Milwaukee. Predictions I’m going to reject my bleakest inclination and believe in an uninspiring split series, instead of a devastating two-game two-loss sweep.
  22. The Brewers enter this brief two-game series out of the playoff pictures, looking up at the Cardinals. Will the urgency baked into this series refocus a team that looks decidedly lost? Bent but not totally broken, the Brewers are in the middle of a rough stretch that harkens back to June. The Brewers are losing, and losing to bad teams, most recently a sweep against the Pirates and losing two of three to a piecemeal Cincinnati team. Now a legitimate threat comes to town in the Rays, who have a 57-50 record in the toughest division in baseball. If there is a saving grace it’s that Tampa Bay is mightily banged up, but considering recent performances against teams in even worse standing, the question has to be asked: does it matter? It’s just a two-game series, but with recent struggles it feels pivotal. Can the Brewers batten down the hatches and right the ship, or are they going to sink further out of the standings and out of postseason viability for good? Let’s check out the match-ups. Tuesday August 9th Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.49 ERA) Jeffrey Springs (4-3 2.50 ERA) Despite having been a steady hand during trepidatious times, Brandon Woodruff fit the team-wide motif of mediocre last Thursday in Pittsburgh. Three earned runs, a no-decision, three strike outs and, concerningly, just as many walks. When a truly solid pitcher throws a snoozer it’s important not to react, but given the sudden and stark trajectory of things, it will be important for Woodruff to wrench all of the talent he can to dominate a capable Rays lineup. Jeffrey Springs is a typical Rays' asset. This is to say that he has flown under the radar and was grabbed on the waiver wire after being DFA’d by another team (in this case the Red Sox) and developed into a high-caliber performer. Now in his fifth season, Springs is enjoying a career best 2.50 built on a 1.08 WHIP, which is further built on a stunning walk rate of 5%, putting him in the 90th percentile for the entire league. Wednesday August 10th Freddy Peralta (3-2 4.46 ERA) Ryan Yarbrough (0-6 4.89 ERA) As detailed below, the Freddy Peralta we’re bound to get on Wednesday is anyone’s guess. One year separated from an All-Star appearance Peralta is objectionably capable of deceptive, dominant pitching when healthy. Unfortunately the Brewers young righty followed the team into a stumbling, brief start against the lowly Pirates in his previous start, ultimately taking a no decision. With hopefully a longer leash, and not a particularly competitive pitcher countering him, last year’s All-Star can summon some of that power. Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough is having a bit of a season to forget. He comes equipped with four pitches, a cutter, slider, change and 4-seamer, none of which have been used to spectacular effect. The 4.89 ERA is almost identical to his FIP (4.93) and while the Rays can be grateful for his endurance, his efficacy is never a sure thing. That said, Yarbrough did manage to keep a spunky Orioles lineup to four hits and eight K’s in what would ultimately be a loss in his penultimate start. A performance like that could sink the downtrodden Crew. Players To Watch Keston Hiura : I’m not sure what Hiura has done to Craig Counsell or the front office to keep faith in him so consistently down. The strikeout rate is a truly alarming 43.5%, but considering production struggles have been a season-long malady for the Brewers, it feels like Hiura is disproportionately singled out to be optioned or pulled from games. It will be interesting to see if the script is flipped if the Crew can get to the two lefty starters early enough that Keston and his righty crushing ways get put into a game instead of taken out for once. Peralta: He was not the sharpest in his return from a lengthy IL stint against the Pirates, but that was the whole M.O. for the downtrodden Brewers. This start feels urgent and eminently more important for the trajectory than the previous one, and it will be interesting to see what form the Peralta arsenal takes under such fraught conditions. Randy Arozarena : Last year’s Rookie Of The Year is having a bit of a slide from last year’s production but can still swing a bat. Over the last couple of weeks he’s put up a .317/.379/.467 line, and aims to be a handful if he keeps it up in Milwaukee. Predictions I’m going to reject my bleakest inclination and believe in an uninspiring split series, instead of a devastating two-game two-loss sweep. View full article
  23. A few short hours after the trade deadline expires, an inter-division series against the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates is set to begin. With the Brewers competing for a playoff berth and the Pirates building for the future, both teams are likely going to have different makeup from when they wake up to when the first pitch is thrown. Will the Brew Crew and its potential new assets have what it takes to assuage the efforts of a promising young Pirates team? Let’s look at the match-ups. Tuesday 8/2/22 Corbin Burnes (8-4 2.31 ERA) Bryse Wilson (1-6 6.31 ERA) Corbin Burnes lacked his typical dominance in his last start, surrendering 3 runs over 6 IP to the Twins in what would ultimately be a W for the Brewers, but mediocre by Corbin Burnes is serviceable by most any other pitcher’s standards. Pitching against a non-competitive Pirates team should help him regain standard ferocity on the bump. Bryse Wilson is nearing veteran status in terms of how long he’s stuck in the bigs, but if you’ve never heard of him it’s because he’s produced very little to remark on. His FIP suggests the ERA is a little on the inflated side, but batters have hit the big righty hard all season, making him little more of service than to eat innings. Wednesday 8/3/22 Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.55 ERA) Zach Thompson (3-8 5.09 ERA) Exploiting their tailspun and injury-addled lineup, Brandon Woodruff fanned nine Red Sox on his way to win in his last start. Woodruff has been exceptional since coming off of the IL and looks to add to his sparkling 2022 resume in this next start. Zach Thompson’s immediate numbers are a bit deceptive. That the ERA is in the low fives has everything to do with his last start, where he surrendered an uncharacteristic seven runs over 5.2 innings to Philadelphia, giving him a mark almost a half a point higher than when his day started. Was he elite before that start? No, but emblematic of his team, he has had flashes of talent. Thursday 8/4/22 Eric Lauer (7-3 3.75 ERA) TBD I already wrote an entire paragraph about why the original Pirates pitcher probably wouldn’t be on the mound for the Pirates to make the scheduled start, and lo and behold as I go to submit this article, Jose Quintana is traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. The good news for the Brewers is that this spares them from facing the most competent arm in the Pirates rotation. Eric Lauer on the other hand has steadied his hand and pitched quite competently as of late. After being plagued by a horrendous plague of long balls, he’s done much better at keeping the ball in the park since the calendar flipped to July. Considering hot weather generally suggests that pitching has to tangle with the wiles of a more vibrant offense, this bodes well for Lauer’s trajectory for the rest of the season. Players To Watch Christian Yelich: Perhaps the most exciting development to emerge in the brief window of time between the All-Star break and the trade deadline is a marked improvement in Christian Yelich’s offense. A toe-tap tweak in his mechanics is being credited for his relative return to form over the past couple of weeks. Freddy Peralta: Yes, yes I know he’s not officially penned into the rotation, but given his return from the 60-Day IL it wouldn’t be surprising to see him swapped out for one of the starters currently scheduled to pitch. My guess is that it would be Lauer, whose road struggles could be avoided if he pitched against the Reds in Milwaukee the following day. Taylor Rogers: Welcome to the Crew! Last year’s all-star closer for the Padres was recently removed as their closer and almost immediately traded to Milwaukee for the elite arm of Josh Hader . This move figures to sting a little for Brewers fans, but if Rogers can return to last year’s level of play he will endear himself to Milwaukee in short order. Oneil Cruz : The towering iconoclast of a shortstop has just been spectacular since being called up by the Bucs in the middle of June. With an imposing height and rocket of an arm, the dazzling defensive prowess of Cruz is simply something to behold. Predictions The Brewers are playing with gumption as of late. A sweep isn’t out of the question, but in the season series so far the record is 9-4 thanks to some hard fought losses to the Bucs. Prior to Quintana’s trade, I figured the Brewers might drop one, but considering the Brewers rotation compared to the unpolished product the Pirates put on the mound, it’s hard to imagine the Brewers not sweeping.
  24. Two NL Central teams at opposite ends of their division do battle. With both having undergone their own respective trade deadline-induced makeovers, how will each's novel chemistry fare against one another? A few short hours after the trade deadline expires, an inter-division series against the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates is set to begin. With the Brewers competing for a playoff berth and the Pirates building for the future, both teams are likely going to have different makeup from when they wake up to when the first pitch is thrown. Will the Brew Crew and its potential new assets have what it takes to assuage the efforts of a promising young Pirates team? Let’s look at the match-ups. Tuesday 8/2/22 Corbin Burnes (8-4 2.31 ERA) Bryse Wilson (1-6 6.31 ERA) Corbin Burnes lacked his typical dominance in his last start, surrendering 3 runs over 6 IP to the Twins in what would ultimately be a W for the Brewers, but mediocre by Corbin Burnes is serviceable by most any other pitcher’s standards. Pitching against a non-competitive Pirates team should help him regain standard ferocity on the bump. Bryse Wilson is nearing veteran status in terms of how long he’s stuck in the bigs, but if you’ve never heard of him it’s because he’s produced very little to remark on. His FIP suggests the ERA is a little on the inflated side, but batters have hit the big righty hard all season, making him little more of service than to eat innings. Wednesday 8/3/22 Brandon Woodruff (9-3 3.55 ERA) Zach Thompson (3-8 5.09 ERA) Exploiting their tailspun and injury-addled lineup, Brandon Woodruff fanned nine Red Sox on his way to win in his last start. Woodruff has been exceptional since coming off of the IL and looks to add to his sparkling 2022 resume in this next start. Zach Thompson’s immediate numbers are a bit deceptive. That the ERA is in the low fives has everything to do with his last start, where he surrendered an uncharacteristic seven runs over 5.2 innings to Philadelphia, giving him a mark almost a half a point higher than when his day started. Was he elite before that start? No, but emblematic of his team, he has had flashes of talent. Thursday 8/4/22 Eric Lauer (7-3 3.75 ERA) TBD I already wrote an entire paragraph about why the original Pirates pitcher probably wouldn’t be on the mound for the Pirates to make the scheduled start, and lo and behold as I go to submit this article, Jose Quintana is traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. The good news for the Brewers is that this spares them from facing the most competent arm in the Pirates rotation. Eric Lauer on the other hand has steadied his hand and pitched quite competently as of late. After being plagued by a horrendous plague of long balls, he’s done much better at keeping the ball in the park since the calendar flipped to July. Considering hot weather generally suggests that pitching has to tangle with the wiles of a more vibrant offense, this bodes well for Lauer’s trajectory for the rest of the season. Players To Watch Christian Yelich: Perhaps the most exciting development to emerge in the brief window of time between the All-Star break and the trade deadline is a marked improvement in Christian Yelich’s offense. A toe-tap tweak in his mechanics is being credited for his relative return to form over the past couple of weeks. Freddy Peralta: Yes, yes I know he’s not officially penned into the rotation, but given his return from the 60-Day IL it wouldn’t be surprising to see him swapped out for one of the starters currently scheduled to pitch. My guess is that it would be Lauer, whose road struggles could be avoided if he pitched against the Reds in Milwaukee the following day. Taylor Rogers: Welcome to the Crew! Last year’s all-star closer for the Padres was recently removed as their closer and almost immediately traded to Milwaukee for the elite arm of Josh Hader . This move figures to sting a little for Brewers fans, but if Rogers can return to last year’s level of play he will endear himself to Milwaukee in short order. Oneil Cruz : The towering iconoclast of a shortstop has just been spectacular since being called up by the Bucs in the middle of June. With an imposing height and rocket of an arm, the dazzling defensive prowess of Cruz is simply something to behold. Predictions The Brewers are playing with gumption as of late. A sweep isn’t out of the question, but in the season series so far the record is 9-4 thanks to some hard fought losses to the Bucs. Prior to Quintana’s trade, I figured the Brewers might drop one, but considering the Brewers rotation compared to the unpolished product the Pirates put on the mound, it’s hard to imagine the Brewers not sweeping. View full article
  25. The Brewers are clinging to a slim division lead and the Giants are trying to keep from becoming sellers as July turns to August. This four-game series has the ingredients for some potentially pivotal mid-season theatrics. It was around this time last year when cognitive dissonance began to leave baseball consciousness and people became willing to accept that, yes, the San Francisco Giants were legitimately good. It wasn’t until the last game of the season was finished that anyone could have predicted that they were 107-wins good, better-than-the-Dodgers good. The magic they captured last season hasn’t exactly replicated itself in 2022, and at present, being only two games over .500 has them hovering in the uncomfortable chasm between being buyers or sellers. What will the upcoming four-game series against the unpredictable Brewers do to put them more solidly in one of those categories? Let’s check out the match-ups. Thursday July 14th Corbin Burnes (7-4 2.20 ERA) Carlos Rodon (8-5 2.70 ERA) If there is one game to watch in this series, it’s this one. Two bonafide aces locking horns. At this point associating Corbin Burnes with excellence is needlessly redundant. A sub-three FIP is good enough to keep any team in any game, even one where the Brewers have to contend with the likes of Carlos Rodon. Speaking of Rodon, his path to San Francisco was forged when was non-tendered and re-signed by the White Sox last year and levied coming in fifth place in Cy Young voting into a two year $44M contract with the Giants. So far Rodon is doing everything in his power to make that contract look like a steal, and on the back of 2.70 ERA over exactly 100 IP it’s easy to make the case that he has. Friday July 15th Brandon Woodruff (7-3 4.01 ERA) Alex Wood (6-7 4.43 ERA) While the Giants sport the AL’s fifth place Cy Young pitcher in their rotation, the Brewers have the same for the NL in theirs. While you meditate on what type of payday Brandon Woodruff may be headed for, it’s worth looking at what he’s done with this season, particularly since returning from the IL. In his last start he gave up six hits in as many innings but no runs, and impressively 8 K’s. Alex Wood has been serviceable enough in his second year in a Giants uniform, with an ERA pretty much exactly at league average. With FIP at 3.26 it’s evident that Wood isn’t doing as good of a job of fooling pitchers as his history would suggest. Control has been a strong point for Wood, giving up a solid 2.2 bb/9, but his diminished velocity is allowing for a lot of pop off his bat. If the Brewers can exhibit patience, they can probably work Wood for a short outing and let Woodruff and the pen take care of the rest. Saturday July 16th Eric Lauer (6-3 3.83 ERA) Alex Cobb (3-4 4.57 ERA) If you squint hard enough you can make the case Eric Lauer is showing hints of his early season form. Despite having difficulty keeping runners off base, Lauer staved off the longball that’s been haunting him this season and struck out seven in a no-decision. Additionally, In the start prior, he struck out nine Cubs. The Giants are a better hitting team and will give better insight into where Lauer is truly at. Alex Cobb’s season started optimistically but has withered as the season has stretched on, despite occasional flashes of brilliance. Similar to his rotation-mate Wood, Cobb’s FIP is nearly a full point below the ERA, signifying that he’s simply just giving up a lot of hits. Cobb can’t be blamed for pitching for a team that is 26th in the rankings for errors committed, but the formula doesn’t portend particularly good things for Cobb’s pitching style. Sunday July 17th Jason Alexander (2-1 4.73 ERA) Logan Webb (8-3 2.82 ERA) The mystique of Jason Alexander has dissipated after a decent start. In his last start, Alexander worked for four innings, gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. This slog of a start actually belie his peripherals optimistically, which would suggest far worse numbers if extrapolated out to a standard start. This isn’t the type of thing anyone wishes on a player who has worked hard enough to get to the majors, but the numbers simply aren’t sustainable; particularly for a team that is in a tight playoff race. Joining Rodon in the egregious All-Star snub department is young righty Logan Webb. Snubs seem to be an ongoing part of Webb’s story. He netted zero Cy Young votes last year, despite the fact that his breakout was a major reason for the Giants success. Where Webb finds his success is in his craftiness. Without the kind of velocity he can just blow by hitters, he expertly moves the ball around the strike zone keeping batters guessing. The FIP on Webb is 3.01, corroborating how genuinely excellent he is. Players To Watch Webb - For all the reasons I mentioned above, but more specifically because (hot take alert) I think watching Webb is watching a multiple Cy Young award winner in his nascent stage. He’s already excellent, and he’s young enough that he has the chance to get significantly better. He presently leads the team in WAR with Rodon a tick behind. After that it’s a steep drop. Brandon Crawford - Not for his game play, which is a world away from what it was just last season. Watch Crawford because you have the chance to take in the slick fielding skills of the last vestiges of one of the most fun dynasties in sports in my entire lifetime. Posey, Lincecum, Cain and Pence are all enjoying retirement, but Crawford is still worth a sentimental watch. Josh Hader - It’s hard to imagine the surgical Hader in another uniform, but it’s almost harder to imagine a smaller market team investing a huge amount of money in a closer when they are already anchored by a brutal Christian Yelich contract and more expense forthcoming with Woody and Burnes going deeper into arbitration. Is it possible that Hader’s time in Cream City is coming to an end? It’s actually a possibility. Predictions This is a difficult series to predict in a way, namely because despite the disparate records, these two teams feel fairly evenly matched. The Brewers enjoy the luxury of one of the weakest divisions in baseball, and sometimes feel outmatched even against objectively mediocre teams. As unsatisfying as it is I suppose the safest bet is a split. View full article
×
×
  • Create New...