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  1. Box Score SP: Brandon Woodruff: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 64 strikes (64.0%) Home Runs: Christian Yelich (14), Hunter Renfroe (29) Top 3 WPA: Victor Caratini (0.334), Willy Adames (0.307), Christian Yelich (0.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Another Close-And-Late Game For the second straight game, the Brewers needed extra innings. After using most of their bullpen in Sunday's 12-inning loss to the Marlins, they needed a 10th inning to decide this one. Fortunately, Brandon Woodruff was able to get through six innings on 100 pitches. In the third frame, he gave up a solo homer to Cooper Hummel. In the fifth inning, a Sergio Alcantara sacrifice fly scored Corbin Carroll. Sure, it would have been great to see Woodruff get through another inning or two, but overall, he had a nice start. Unfortunately, when he left, Hoby Milner, who has been a fantastic story in 2022, came on and gave up a two-run homer to Alcantara to give Arizona a 4-1 lead. Christian Yelich came through in the second inning with a leadoff homer. However, fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Brewers haven't scored any more runs. A glance at the scoreboard showed that they were losing and the Phillies were winning and giving up certainly could have been an option. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Renfroe is Clutch Again Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a mammoth home run to center off of All Star Joe Mantiply. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Christian Yelich reached on an infield single. One batter later, Kolten Wong walked. Rowdy Tellez grounded out to first base to push Yelich and Wong to second and third, respectively. Victor Caratini came up and hit a line drive right at first baseman Christian Walker. The ball somehow went right through him, and the ball trickled far enough to allow both runners scored to tie the game and send it to extra innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Daulton Varsho Comes Home Cooper Hummel was the Manfred Man, starting the top of the 10th inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Hummel to third, Daulton Varsho singled to right-center to push in the go-ahead run for the Diamondbacks. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Varsho is the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho who was named after former Phillie Darren Daulton. He was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, as you may have heard a time or 23 during the broadcast. He attended the University of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and became the 2nd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017. In his third MLB season, Varsho has had a terrific season. On this night, however, that he gave Arizona the lead may have only brought joy to a small section of Marshfield. The Brewers now needed to score on in the bottom of the 10th inning to tie it. Adames, Renfroe Play Hero Jace Peterson was placed on second base to start the inning. Omar Narvaez then walked. With runners on first and second, Willy Adames singled to right to drive in Peterson and tie the game. Almost as important, with nobody out, Narvaez was able to advance to third base. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Hunter Renfroe came up and again came through. He dropped a single into left field, Narvaez scored, and the Brewers kept their playoff hopes alive. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== For about Five Minutes... Down in Houston, the Phillies finished a 3-0 shutout of the Astros to officially clinch a Wild Card spot and eliminate the Brewers. What’s Next? With the final two games now having no playoff implications, it will be interesting to see how the Brewers and the Diamondbacks adjust their lineups and pitching decisions. For instance, does it make sense to have Corbin Burnes make one more start, or just ensure he goes into the offseason healthy? The same can be said about Arizona's Zac Gallen. Do you think the Brewers might announce some roster moves, maybe calling up someone like Brewer Fanatic Minor League Hitter of the Year Sal Frelick, or adding a couple of pitchers from Nashville so as not to burn out a bullpen that has been used a lot in recent games. Here are the remaining pitching matchups: Tuesday at 6:10: Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.83 ERA) vs Zac Gallen (12-3, 2.46 ERA) Wednesday at 3:10: Corbin Burnes (12-8, 2.98 ERA) vs Merrill Kelly (13-8, 3.43 ERA) data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Postgame Interviews data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  2. The Brewers kept fighting, clinging on to the smallest glimmer of hope heading into the final series of the season. They mounted a big, ninth-inning comeback. They fell behind in the tenth, but came back and got a big win, keeping their playoff chances alive. Minutes later, they were eliminated from playoff contention. Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Brandon Woodruff: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 64 strikes (64.0%) Home Runs: Christian Yelich (14), Hunter Renfroe (29) Top 3 WPA: Victor Caratini (0.334), Willy Adames (0.307), Christian Yelich (0.171) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Another Close-And-Late Game For the second straight game, the Brewers needed extra innings. After using most of their bullpen in Sunday's 12-inning loss to the Marlins, they needed a 10th inning to decide this one. Fortunately, Brandon Woodruff was able to get through six innings on 100 pitches. In the third frame, he gave up a solo homer to Cooper Hummel. In the fifth inning, a Sergio Alcantara sacrifice fly scored Corbin Carroll. Sure, it would have been great to see Woodruff get through another inning or two, but overall, he had a nice start. Unfortunately, when he left, Hoby Milner, who has been a fantastic story in 2022, came on and gave up a two-run homer to Alcantara to give Arizona a 4-1 lead. Christian Yelich came through in the second inning with a leadoff homer. However, fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Brewers haven't scored any more runs. A glance at the scoreboard showed that they were losing and the Phillies were winning and giving up certainly could have been an option. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Renfroe is Clutch Again Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a mammoth home run to center off of All Star Joe Mantiply. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Christian Yelich reached on an infield single. One batter later, Kolten Wong walked. Rowdy Tellez grounded out to first base to push Yelich and Wong to second and third, respectively. Victor Caratini came up and hit a line drive right at first baseman Christian Walker. The ball somehow went right through him, and the ball trickled far enough to allow both runners scored to tie the game and send it to extra innings. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Daulton Varsho Comes Home Cooper Hummel was the Manfred Man, starting the top of the 10th inning at second base. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Hummel to third, Daulton Varsho singled to right-center to push in the go-ahead run for the Diamondbacks. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Varsho is the son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho who was named after former Phillie Darren Daulton. He was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, as you may have heard a time or 23 during the broadcast. He attended the University of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and became the 2nd round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2017. In his third MLB season, Varsho has had a terrific season. On this night, however, that he gave Arizona the lead may have only brought joy to a small section of Marshfield. The Brewers now needed to score on in the bottom of the 10th inning to tie it. Adames, Renfroe Play Hero Jace Peterson was placed on second base to start the inning. Omar Narvaez then walked. With runners on first and second, Willy Adames singled to right to drive in Peterson and tie the game. Almost as important, with nobody out, Narvaez was able to advance to third base. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Hunter Renfroe came up and again came through. He dropped a single into left field, Narvaez scored, and the Brewers kept their playoff hopes alive. data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== For about Five Minutes... Down in Houston, the Phillies finished a 3-0 shutout of the Astros to officially clinch a Wild Card spot and eliminate the Brewers. What’s Next? With the final two games now having no playoff implications, it will be interesting to see how the Brewers and the Diamondbacks adjust their lineups and pitching decisions. For instance, does it make sense to have Corbin Burnes make one more start, or just ensure he goes into the offseason healthy? The same can be said about Arizona's Zac Gallen. Do you think the Brewers might announce some roster moves, maybe calling up someone like Brewer Fanatic Minor League Hitter of the Year Sal Frelick, or adding a couple of pitchers from Nashville so as not to burn out a bullpen that has been used a lot in recent games. Here are the remaining pitching matchups: Tuesday at 6:10: Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.83 ERA) vs Zac Gallen (12-3, 2.46 ERA) Wednesday at 3:10: Corbin Burnes (12-8, 2.98 ERA) vs Merrill Kelly (13-8, 3.43 ERA) data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Postgame Interviews data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  3. Box Score SP: Aaron Ashby: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (65 pitches, 37 strikes (56.9%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Luis Urias (0.247), Matt Bush (0.120), Trevor Gott (0.109) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Williams (-0.694), Willy Adames (-0.234), Tyrone Taylor (-0.147) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) 9th Inning Blown Save We have to start here. It was obviously the key inning of this game, and potentially for the Brewers season. With a 3-2 lead, Craig Counsell turned again to Devin Williams, hoping for another Save. A night earlier, he finished out a save despite struggling with his control. On this night, it just didn’t happen for him. After walking three in Friday night, he allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Berti. It’s never a good thing, but Berti is leading MLB in stolen bases this season. Joey Wendle pinch hit, and he struck out. But then Berti stole second, his 39th steal of the year. Williams followed it by walking Brian Anderson and then yanking a fastball straight to the backstop to put runners on second and third with one out. Bryan De La Cruz came through with a solid single to left field. Both runs would have scored anyway, but when Christian Yelich bobbled the ball, the Marlins DH on this night took second. Peter Strzelecki came in and got the next two batters out. That sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers had the top of their lineup coming to bat, but Don Mattingly turned to lefty Richard Bleier who got Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez out on three quick ground out. Ashby OK in Short Start While Aaron Ashby is just 2-10 on the season, he has had some solid starts, and that was the hope in this game. In actuality, he pitched fairly well in this game. That said, in the third inning, with Jordan Groshans on base, Peyton Burdick hit his third career home run to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. A huge point of emphasis for Ashby has to be eliminating or at least minimizing his walk totals. While he only threw strikes on 57% of his pitches, he did not walk anyone. Ashby was solid, but he also got some help from his defense. And 4 1/3 innings may not be exciting, but he did keep the team in the game and Counsell turned to a bullpen he has relied upon a lot this season including lately. And that bullpen did the job (until the 9th, as you already read). Trevor Gott got out all five batters he faced. Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush each tossed a three-batter inning. Offense Struggles In the first three innings, the Brewers lineup went one-two-three each inning. Of the nine batters, five of them struck out. Edward Cabrera, however, left the game with some arm discomfort at that point. Andrew Nardi came on and Christian Yelich led off the fourth inning with a home run to the opposite field. The team struck out three more times that inning. The Brewers had a big opportunity in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias started the inning with walks. Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham who struck out a pinch-hitting Victor Caratini and got a fly out by Tyrone Taylor. With two outs, Yelich walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, Willy Adames was unable to provide a two-out hit and the team went scoreless again. In the sixth inning, the Brewers broke through and probably could have scored more. Jake Fishman came on to pitch and Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe started the inning with back-to-back singles. Mike Brosseau came on to pinch hit and struck out. Huascar Brazoban came in and threw a wild pitch. With runners on second and third bases, McCutchen walked. Luis Urias got a pain RBI by letting a pitch hit him (We’ve got ice!). Caratini then grounded out to second base for the inning’s second out, but Renfroe came in to score and give The Crew the lead at 3-2. There were still runners on second and third, but again, they could not get some insurance with a big, two-out hit. In the seventh inning, they had two more singles, but Tanner Scott recorded three more strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Milwaukee got one single, and Tommy Nance got three more strikeouts. In the ninth inning, there were no strikeouts, but three routine groundouts. On the night, the Brewers struck out 16 times! What Do You Do? If you look at the WPA, it shows that Devin Williams didn't get the job done on this night. But what would you do? Williams is the closer and one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But if you look at the Bullpen Usage chart below, he has thrown a lot of pitches this week. Matt Bush didn't throw a lot of pitches in the eighth. Would you have let him pitch the ninth inning? Brad Boxberger only threw 12 pitches in the seventh inning. Maybe he could have pitched the eighth too? But then the question remains, would you pitch Bush in the ninth? Would you have considered using Taylor Rogers in the ninth? The answer to all those questions is... Maybe. And maybe they would have worked on this particular night because that's how baseball works. But if any of those scenarios would have been used, and that situation would have ended in a Brewers loss, the one question that would have been asked is... Why did they not go to Devin Williams in the ninth? What’s Next? The Brewers will finish out this series with the Marlins before welcoming Arizona for the final three games. The Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound at the start of Sunday afternoon’s game, in an “Opener” role. Pablo Lopez will start for the Marlins. Wild Card Scenarios The Phillies played two games against the Nationals on Saturday. They lost the afternoon game but responded with a win in the nightcap. However, the loss meant that a Brewers win would have had the two teams tied heading into the final four games. NOTE: The Padres currently lead the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Three more outs and their record will improve to 87-71. That is the record in the scenarios below. This chart will be updated when the game in San Diego goes final. Remaining Games Brewers: 1 at home vs Marlins, 3 at home vs Arizona Phillies: 1 at home vs Nationals, 3 at Houston Padres: 1 at home vs White Sox, 3 at home vs Giants So the Brewers are now one game out of a playoff spot. Because of the tiebreakers, the Brewers will have to finish a game ahead of the Phillies or Padres to take a Wild Card spot. Philadelphia Phillies If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Phillies to go 2-2 (or 1-3, or 0-4). If the Brewers go 3-1, they need the Phillies to go 1-3 (or 0-4). If the Brewers go 2-2, they need the Phillies to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 1-3 or 0-4, the Phillies go to the playoffs. San Diego Padres If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Padres to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4, the Padres clinch a playoff spot. While the Padres are all but assured of a playoff spot, there still is hope in surpassing the Phillies. Why? They have three games in Houston. Normally, one might assume that the Astros would be resting its key players, but because the top two seeds in each league get a first-round bye, they will want to set up their pitching rotation and try to give those key players reps knowing that they will be getting at least five days off before Round 2 of the playoffs would begin. The Brewers would be greatly helped by the Astros dominating the Phillies. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  4. Over the past seven to ten games, every Brewers win has been big. Every Brewers loss has been excruciating. Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the Marlins was especially rough. Image courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Aaron Ashby: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (65 pitches, 37 strikes (56.9%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Luis Urias (0.247), Matt Bush (0.120), Trevor Gott (0.109) Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Williams (-0.694), Willy Adames (-0.234), Tyrone Taylor (-0.147) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) 9th Inning Blown Save We have to start here. It was obviously the key inning of this game, and potentially for the Brewers season. With a 3-2 lead, Craig Counsell turned again to Devin Williams, hoping for another Save. A night earlier, he finished out a save despite struggling with his control. On this night, it just didn’t happen for him. After walking three in Friday night, he allowed a leadoff walk to Jon Berti. It’s never a good thing, but Berti is leading MLB in stolen bases this season. Joey Wendle pinch hit, and he struck out. But then Berti stole second, his 39th steal of the year. Williams followed it by walking Brian Anderson and then yanking a fastball straight to the backstop to put runners on second and third with one out. Bryan De La Cruz came through with a solid single to left field. Both runs would have scored anyway, but when Christian Yelich bobbled the ball, the Marlins DH on this night took second. Peter Strzelecki came in and got the next two batters out. That sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers had the top of their lineup coming to bat, but Don Mattingly turned to lefty Richard Bleier who got Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez out on three quick ground out. Ashby OK in Short Start While Aaron Ashby is just 2-10 on the season, he has had some solid starts, and that was the hope in this game. In actuality, he pitched fairly well in this game. That said, in the third inning, with Jordan Groshans on base, Peyton Burdick hit his third career home run to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead. A huge point of emphasis for Ashby has to be eliminating or at least minimizing his walk totals. While he only threw strikes on 57% of his pitches, he did not walk anyone. Ashby was solid, but he also got some help from his defense. And 4 1/3 innings may not be exciting, but he did keep the team in the game and Counsell turned to a bullpen he has relied upon a lot this season including lately. And that bullpen did the job (until the 9th, as you already read). Trevor Gott got out all five batters he faced. Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush each tossed a three-batter inning. Offense Struggles In the first three innings, the Brewers lineup went one-two-three each inning. Of the nine batters, five of them struck out. Edward Cabrera, however, left the game with some arm discomfort at that point. Andrew Nardi came on and Christian Yelich led off the fourth inning with a home run to the opposite field. The team struck out three more times that inning. The Brewers had a big opportunity in the fifth inning. Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias started the inning with walks. Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham who struck out a pinch-hitting Victor Caratini and got a fly out by Tyrone Taylor. With two outs, Yelich walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, Willy Adames was unable to provide a two-out hit and the team went scoreless again. In the sixth inning, the Brewers broke through and probably could have scored more. Jake Fishman came on to pitch and Rowdy Tellez and Hunter Renfroe started the inning with back-to-back singles. Mike Brosseau came on to pinch hit and struck out. Huascar Brazoban came in and threw a wild pitch. With runners on second and third bases, McCutchen walked. Luis Urias got a pain RBI by letting a pitch hit him (We’ve got ice!). Caratini then grounded out to second base for the inning’s second out, but Renfroe came in to score and give The Crew the lead at 3-2. There were still runners on second and third, but again, they could not get some insurance with a big, two-out hit. In the seventh inning, they had two more singles, but Tanner Scott recorded three more strikeouts. In the eighth inning, Milwaukee got one single, and Tommy Nance got three more strikeouts. In the ninth inning, there were no strikeouts, but three routine groundouts. On the night, the Brewers struck out 16 times! What Do You Do? If you look at the WPA, it shows that Devin Williams didn't get the job done on this night. But what would you do? Williams is the closer and one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But if you look at the Bullpen Usage chart below, he has thrown a lot of pitches this week. Matt Bush didn't throw a lot of pitches in the eighth. Would you have let him pitch the ninth inning? Brad Boxberger only threw 12 pitches in the seventh inning. Maybe he could have pitched the eighth too? But then the question remains, would you pitch Bush in the ninth? Would you have considered using Taylor Rogers in the ninth? The answer to all those questions is... Maybe. And maybe they would have worked on this particular night because that's how baseball works. But if any of those scenarios would have been used, and that situation would have ended in a Brewers loss, the one question that would have been asked is... Why did they not go to Devin Williams in the ninth? What’s Next? The Brewers will finish out this series with the Marlins before welcoming Arizona for the final three games. The Brewers will send Freddy Peralta to the mound at the start of Sunday afternoon’s game, in an “Opener” role. Pablo Lopez will start for the Marlins. Wild Card Scenarios The Phillies played two games against the Nationals on Saturday. They lost the afternoon game but responded with a win in the nightcap. However, the loss meant that a Brewers win would have had the two teams tied heading into the final four games. NOTE: The Padres currently lead the Chicago White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Three more outs and their record will improve to 87-71. That is the record in the scenarios below. This chart will be updated when the game in San Diego goes final. Remaining Games Brewers: 1 at home vs Marlins, 3 at home vs Arizona Phillies: 1 at home vs Nationals, 3 at Houston Padres: 1 at home vs White Sox, 3 at home vs Giants So the Brewers are now one game out of a playoff spot. Because of the tiebreakers, the Brewers will have to finish a game ahead of the Phillies or Padres to take a Wild Card spot. Philadelphia Phillies If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Phillies to go 2-2 (or 1-3, or 0-4). If the Brewers go 3-1, they need the Phillies to go 1-3 (or 0-4). If the Brewers go 2-2, they need the Phillies to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 1-3 or 0-4, the Phillies go to the playoffs. San Diego Padres If the Brewers go 4-0, they need the Padres to go 0-4. If the Brewers go 3-1, 2-2, 1-3, or 0-4, the Padres clinch a playoff spot. While the Padres are all but assured of a playoff spot, there still is hope in surpassing the Phillies. Why? They have three games in Houston. Normally, one might assume that the Astros would be resting its key players, but because the top two seeds in each league get a first-round bye, they will want to set up their pitching rotation and try to give those key players reps knowing that they will be getting at least five days off before Round 2 of the playoffs would begin. The Brewers would be greatly helped by the Astros dominating the Phillies. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet View full article
  5. Life (and baseball) happens fast. Christian Yelich's sudden and steep descent from MVP stud hitter to a serviceable leadoff man put the Milwaukee Brewers behind the eight-ball offensively the past few seasons. It's not Yelich's fault; it just happened. This is not a piece laying blame at the feet of Christian Yelich for the Brewers' inability to reach the World Series or for "hurting" the club with his nine-year, $215 million contract. It's simply a look at how much President of Baseball Operations David Stearns planned to lean on Yelich's incredible production, with a blueprint to surround the (basically) two-time MVP with decent but unspectacular hitters. I recently watched highlights from 2018 and 2019, and it is easy to forget just how insanely amazing Yelich performed in those years. What Yelich did in the second half of 2018 was as close to a Barry Bonds type of run as we've seen - albeit for a much shorter time. We know one fantastic hitter doesn't make a lineup potent; however, a truly feared player that delivers every night and can change a game's outcome with one swing makes a world of difference. No matter what statistics you want to use, Yelich of 2018-19 was disgusting in all the right ways. These are truly incredible numbers. Aside from Mookie Betts and Mike Trout, Yelich was the best hitter in MLB those two seasons. You can see why the Brewers relied so heavily on him when you look at 36 and 44 home runs in those seasons, leading to 110 and 97 RBI, respectively. And keep in mind Yelich's 2019 season was cut short by the fractured kneecap limiting him to only 130 games. Despite the freak injury, nobody thought Yelich would become a shell of himself in the following seasons. Maybe in six or seven years as he hit his mid-30s, but not right now. Unfortunately, the fall-off was immediate, and its depth of decline remains staggering. Even leaving out 2020 for obvious reasons, the slide from elite power bat to slap hitter with on-base skills is tragic. One number to focus on is Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), the most comprehensive statistic for offensive performance. Let's say Yelich gets up to 110 wRC+ this season (he is currently at 106); that is more than 60 wRC+ "lost" from the 2019 version of Yelich. Even if you expected a slight decline each year, that is a colossal production hole you need to recoup through other players. No one has truly figured out why he ended up here, though many believe it started with the knee injury and mental barrier that could have changed his swing and aggressiveness. Being 30 years old doesn't help either, but one can't blame the swift and cavernous valley on age alone. As with most things, it's likely a combination of many factors, including the ridiculous improvement by MLB pitchers since 2019. But again, this isn't to say fans should be chastising Yelich. By all accounts, he continues to put in the work, make adjustments to find solutions, and acknowledge that he hasn't lived up to his (or anyone else's) expectations. Frustration with him is understandable, and it's not for me to say how fans should react. Yelich has been more productive this season than last, especially after manager Craig Counsell moved him into the leadoff spot where his current skill set better suits him. Despite a recent 0-for-23 cold spell, he's coming out of the St. Louis Cardinals series with a .354 OBP and 107 OPS+. No, it isn't "good enough" for what he was supposed to be and what his contract provides, but it's not an abject failure, either. The problem is that Yelich's current production has prevented the Brewers' offense from reaching stable success like Stearns planned. At the same time, Yelich's unforeseen dip doesn't absolve Stearns of the current situation. Milwaukee displayed its true offensive colors in 2021, even after acquiring Willy Adames to spark their production. Whether by choice or lack of options, Milwaukee mostly remained the same type of offense without an elite bat's legitimate, everyday threat in the lineup. And as the offense continued to be Jekyll and Hyde most nights before the trade deadline, no one was brought in to help redistribute Yelich's expected numbers elsewhere. Perhaps the Brewers thought Adames would step into that role, but unfortunately, he has had his ups and downs, too. Without a hitter like Yelich at his peak (or someone close), the offense Stearns put together isn't nearly as effective. It was never meant to be a "star and scrubs" lineup, but reliant on that key anchor in the middle that gets help from complementary pieces every game. Unfortunately, without the big bat, the offense finds it more difficult to reach their potential regularly. Sure, Yelich's contract is a hinderance to more spending (in theory). The truth is, the Brewers, like all MLB teams, could easily push their payroll higher without great risk to the bottom line. What does it all mean? Baseball, like life, is more unpredictable than we can imagine. Even things that are "guarantees" can quickly fade into disappointment. Stearns clearly had a plan that revolved around Yelich as the nucleus of the offense that would drive everyone else to succeed on a higher level. Yelich lost something, and Stearns lost his preferred offense without enough answers in time to turn things around. This doesn't mean the team is terrible, Yelich is trash, and the offense will never do enough. There is talent all around, Yelich included, but the Brewers have to find different ways to make it all work after the grand Yelich plan had to go out the window. I'll still take issue with Stearns' lack of assertiveness on the market for a hitter, grumble when the offense fails to score more than three runs, and long to see the Yelich of a few seasons ago. At the same time, I'll be there every night rooting for my team and hoping that the Brewers discover new ways to land in the win column each night until they are the last ones standing. View full article
  6. With the season going into the month of August and the Crew continuing to struggle after the infamous trade deadline where not a single bat was acquired, the offense still seems to be the focal point of the issues. When looking at their stale offense, there seems to be one major elephant in the room... a 26 million dollar elephant... and that is Christian Yelich. For this week's Quick Hit episode, we look into the Brewers' 2 time MVP as the power and clutch still have yet to arrive. In arguably the biggest series of the season for the Brew Crew, on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals, how did that fare? Come join us on the couch and let's talk!
  7. With the season going into the month of August and the Crew continuing to struggle after the infamous trade deadline where not a single bat was acquired, the offense still seems to be the focal point of the issues. When looking at their stale offense, there seems to be one major elephant in the room... a 26 million dollar elephant... and that is Christian Yelich. For this week's Quick Hit episode, we look into the Brewers' 2 time MVP as the power and clutch still have yet to arrive. In arguably the biggest series of the season for the Brew Crew, on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals, how did that fare? Come join us on the couch and let's talk! View full video
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. This is not a piece laying blame at the feet of Christian Yelich for the Brewers' inability to reach the World Series or for "hurting" the club with his nine-year, $215 million contract. It's simply a look at how much President of Baseball Operations David Stearns planned to lean on Yelich's incredible production, with a blueprint to surround the (basically) two-time MVP with decent but unspectacular hitters. I recently watched highlights from 2018 and 2019, and it is easy to forget just how insanely amazing Yelich performed in those years. What Yelich did in the second half of 2018 was as close to a Barry Bonds type of run as we've seen - albeit for a much shorter time. We know one fantastic hitter doesn't make a lineup potent; however, a truly feared player that delivers every night and can change a game's outcome with one swing makes a world of difference. No matter what statistics you want to use, Yelich of 2018-19 was disgusting in all the right ways. These are truly incredible numbers. Aside from Mookie Betts and Mike Trout, Yelich was the best hitter in MLB those two seasons. You can see why the Brewers relied so heavily on him when you look at 36 and 44 home runs in those seasons, leading to 110 and 97 RBI, respectively. And keep in mind Yelich's 2019 season was cut short by the fractured kneecap limiting him to only 130 games. Despite the freak injury, nobody thought Yelich would become a shell of himself in the following seasons. Maybe in six or seven years as he hit his mid-30s, but not right now. Unfortunately, the fall-off was immediate, and its depth of decline remains staggering. Even leaving out 2020 for obvious reasons, the slide from elite power bat to slap hitter with on-base skills is tragic. One number to focus on is Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), the most comprehensive statistic for offensive performance. Let's say Yelich gets up to 110 wRC+ this season (he is currently at 106); that is more than 60 wRC+ "lost" from the 2019 version of Yelich. Even if you expected a slight decline each year, that is a colossal production hole you need to recoup through other players. No one has truly figured out why he ended up here, though many believe it started with the knee injury and mental barrier that could have changed his swing and aggressiveness. Being 30 years old doesn't help either, but one can't blame the swift and cavernous valley on age alone. As with most things, it's likely a combination of many factors, including the ridiculous improvement by MLB pitchers since 2019. But again, this isn't to say fans should be chastising Yelich. By all accounts, he continues to put in the work, make adjustments to find solutions, and acknowledge that he hasn't lived up to his (or anyone else's) expectations. Frustration with him is understandable, and it's not for me to say how fans should react. Yelich has been more productive this season than last, especially after manager Craig Counsell moved him into the leadoff spot where his current skill set better suits him. Despite a recent 0-for-23 cold spell, he's coming out of the St. Louis Cardinals series with a .354 OBP and 107 OPS+. No, it isn't "good enough" for what he was supposed to be and what his contract provides, but it's not an abject failure, either. The problem is that Yelich's current production has prevented the Brewers' offense from reaching stable success like Stearns planned. At the same time, Yelich's unforeseen dip doesn't absolve Stearns of the current situation. Milwaukee displayed its true offensive colors in 2021, even after acquiring Willy Adames to spark their production. Whether by choice or lack of options, Milwaukee mostly remained the same type of offense without an elite bat's legitimate, everyday threat in the lineup. And as the offense continued to be Jekyll and Hyde most nights before the trade deadline, no one was brought in to help redistribute Yelich's expected numbers elsewhere. Perhaps the Brewers thought Adames would step into that role, but unfortunately, he has had his ups and downs, too. Without a hitter like Yelich at his peak (or someone close), the offense Stearns put together isn't nearly as effective. It was never meant to be a "star and scrubs" lineup, but reliant on that key anchor in the middle that gets help from complementary pieces every game. Unfortunately, without the big bat, the offense finds it more difficult to reach their potential regularly. Sure, Yelich's contract is a hinderance to more spending (in theory). The truth is, the Brewers, like all MLB teams, could easily push their payroll higher without great risk to the bottom line. What does it all mean? Baseball, like life, is more unpredictable than we can imagine. Even things that are "guarantees" can quickly fade into disappointment. Stearns clearly had a plan that revolved around Yelich as the nucleus of the offense that would drive everyone else to succeed on a higher level. Yelich lost something, and Stearns lost his preferred offense without enough answers in time to turn things around. This doesn't mean the team is terrible, Yelich is trash, and the offense will never do enough. There is talent all around, Yelich included, but the Brewers have to find different ways to make it all work after the grand Yelich plan had to go out the window. I'll still take issue with Stearns' lack of assertiveness on the market for a hitter, grumble when the offense fails to score more than three runs, and long to see the Yelich of a few seasons ago. At the same time, I'll be there every night rooting for my team and hoping that the Brewers discover new ways to land in the win column each night until they are the last ones standing.
  11. The trade of Josh Hader felt abrupt despite him being dangled for the last couple of seasons. After that exchange with the Padres, the now second place Brewers largely stood pat with the team they have, spare the acquisition of a few bullpen arms. The lack of a meaningful offensive acquisition left some scratching their heads, and the team’s perceived deficiencies probably felt exaggerated after a rare Corbin Burnes loss at the hands of a bad Pirates team. Worse still by a blown save and walk-off loss in the second game and, as if scripted, a wild pitch walk off to give the Bucs a sweep over Milwaukee. Losses sting, but the amalgam of bad that immediately followed an inert trade deadline makes the front office’s silence deafening. How can they rebound against the Reds? Let’s check out the match-ups. Friday August 5th Eric Lauer (7-3 3.75) Robert Dugger (0-0 4.50 ERA) Originally scheduled to pitch the day before against the Pirates, the Brewers opted to strategize the return of Freddy Peralta to help nudge the homer-prone Eric Lauer to a home start. A savvy move as Lauer’s splits have shown him to be significantly stronger at home. Robert Dugger is being called up for his first start of the season, having spent most of the time in AAA spare a few long relief appearances. That Dugger is starting at all is merely a product of necessity. A career ERA of 6.97 and the strikeout rate of 18.3% substantiate the negative career WAR of the utilitarian Texas Tech product. Saturday August 6th Aaron Ashby (2-9 4.13 ERA) Nick Lodolo (3-3 4.23 ERA) Aaron Ashby's last two starts have shown an improvement from the slippery slope he’d been on. That they resulted in losses is hardly his fault, particularly the penultimate appearance where two earned runs and nine strikeouts over seven innings were met with no run support. The lanky Nick Lodolo comes to AmFam Field on the heels of back-to-back quality starts, most recently putting up a strong effort against a better-than-expected Orioles lineup. Sunday August 7th Corbin Burnes (8-5 2.49 ERA) Hunter Greene (4-12 5.26 ERA) An established ace squares off against a nascent one. What should be the takeaway from Burnes struggling in his most recent start against the Pirates? I should hope that, aside from the fact that Burnes is a human, that the answer is “absolutely nothing”. Burnes has lost some of the polish on the control front this season, already hitting 9 batters to last years six and with a SO/W of 4.61 to last years astounding 6.88, but he’s earned a long enough leash to be occasionally imperfect without too many corked eyebrows. Hunter Greene ’s season is detailed more specifically below in the “Players too Watch” section, but Greene has been anything from work-in-progress to superhuman. The sky is the limit for the high ceiling 22-year-old, and if he’s on point he’s capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone, including Burnes. Players To Watch Our late inning relief: Matt Bush’s dominating power pitching and Devin Williams mastery weren’t particularly dialed in Pittsburgh and both earned a loss as a result. If there is one team that can serve to re-inspire one’s confidence, it should be Cincinnati. Christian Yelich : Yeli has always been a punishing presence against Cincinnati. Let’s see how his new mechanics fare against the grist to his mill. Joey Votto : I normally wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch anyone languishing in a .732 OPS, even an aging legend with a Hall Of Fame pedigree, but there are few players more likable or charismatic than TikTok legend Joey Votto. Even if he isn’t flashing at the plate, there is a good chance that he’ll give you something to watch. Hunter Greene: At the other end of their career we have flamethrowing prodigy Greene. At 22, the Reds righty has given their front office enough confidence to develop him in the bigs, even if there have been struggles with control and home runs in the past. In his most recent start, Greene gave up one hit and no walks on the way to striking out eight Marlins over the course of seven innings. Outings like that are the reason for high hopes surrounding Greene, and while he’ll likely be a torment to the Brewers for seasons to come. Predictions Only so much can be taken from an objectively good team being swept by the likes of the Pirates, but far less predictable things take place in baseball every week. The Brewers are the better team, and the already bad Reds got far worse when they stripped out their few useful parts in the trade deadline. My guess is that the Crew snags two of the three.
  12. A sweep at the hands of the Pirates and another sweep by the Cardinals over the Cubs find the Brewers suddenly in second in their division. Can the Brewers breeze through the Reds to regain their spot at the top, or does the last series portend grim things to come in Milwaukee? The trade of Josh Hader felt abrupt despite him being dangled for the last couple of seasons. After that exchange with the Padres, the now second place Brewers largely stood pat with the team they have, spare the acquisition of a few bullpen arms. The lack of a meaningful offensive acquisition left some scratching their heads, and the team’s perceived deficiencies probably felt exaggerated after a rare Corbin Burnes loss at the hands of a bad Pirates team. Worse still by a blown save and walk-off loss in the second game and, as if scripted, a wild pitch walk off to give the Bucs a sweep over Milwaukee. Losses sting, but the amalgam of bad that immediately followed an inert trade deadline makes the front office’s silence deafening. How can they rebound against the Reds? Let’s check out the match-ups. Friday August 5th Eric Lauer (7-3 3.75) Robert Dugger (0-0 4.50 ERA) Originally scheduled to pitch the day before against the Pirates, the Brewers opted to strategize the return of Freddy Peralta to help nudge the homer-prone Eric Lauer to a home start. A savvy move as Lauer’s splits have shown him to be significantly stronger at home. Robert Dugger is being called up for his first start of the season, having spent most of the time in AAA spare a few long relief appearances. That Dugger is starting at all is merely a product of necessity. A career ERA of 6.97 and the strikeout rate of 18.3% substantiate the negative career WAR of the utilitarian Texas Tech product. Saturday August 6th Aaron Ashby (2-9 4.13 ERA) Nick Lodolo (3-3 4.23 ERA) Aaron Ashby's last two starts have shown an improvement from the slippery slope he’d been on. That they resulted in losses is hardly his fault, particularly the penultimate appearance where two earned runs and nine strikeouts over seven innings were met with no run support. The lanky Nick Lodolo comes to AmFam Field on the heels of back-to-back quality starts, most recently putting up a strong effort against a better-than-expected Orioles lineup. Sunday August 7th Corbin Burnes (8-5 2.49 ERA) Hunter Greene (4-12 5.26 ERA) An established ace squares off against a nascent one. What should be the takeaway from Burnes struggling in his most recent start against the Pirates? I should hope that, aside from the fact that Burnes is a human, that the answer is “absolutely nothing”. Burnes has lost some of the polish on the control front this season, already hitting 9 batters to last years six and with a SO/W of 4.61 to last years astounding 6.88, but he’s earned a long enough leash to be occasionally imperfect without too many corked eyebrows. Hunter Greene ’s season is detailed more specifically below in the “Players too Watch” section, but Greene has been anything from work-in-progress to superhuman. The sky is the limit for the high ceiling 22-year-old, and if he’s on point he’s capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone, including Burnes. Players To Watch Our late inning relief: Matt Bush’s dominating power pitching and Devin Williams mastery weren’t particularly dialed in Pittsburgh and both earned a loss as a result. If there is one team that can serve to re-inspire one’s confidence, it should be Cincinnati. Christian Yelich : Yeli has always been a punishing presence against Cincinnati. Let’s see how his new mechanics fare against the grist to his mill. Joey Votto : I normally wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch anyone languishing in a .732 OPS, even an aging legend with a Hall Of Fame pedigree, but there are few players more likable or charismatic than TikTok legend Joey Votto. Even if he isn’t flashing at the plate, there is a good chance that he’ll give you something to watch. Hunter Greene: At the other end of their career we have flamethrowing prodigy Greene. At 22, the Reds righty has given their front office enough confidence to develop him in the bigs, even if there have been struggles with control and home runs in the past. In his most recent start, Greene gave up one hit and no walks on the way to striking out eight Marlins over the course of seven innings. Outings like that are the reason for high hopes surrounding Greene, and while he’ll likely be a torment to the Brewers for seasons to come. Predictions Only so much can be taken from an objectively good team being swept by the likes of the Pirates, but far less predictable things take place in baseball every week. The Brewers are the better team, and the already bad Reds got far worse when they stripped out their few useful parts in the trade deadline. My guess is that the Crew snags two of the three. View full article
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. It might finally be happening. Between injuries, poor play, and batted-ball bad luck, Christian Yelich hasn’t been the same player since 2019. While the 2018-2019 Yelich might be a blip in the past, the new and improved second half Yelich isn’t a bad consolation prize. The Brewers are 7-2 since the All-Star break, and in those nine games, Yelich has recorded at least one hit. He’s introduced a new mechanical change into his swing, doing away with his old leg kick in favor of a toe tap. The new approach has helped Yelich timing wise, and done wonders for his production too. His slash line since the break sits at .344/488/.563, good for a WRC+ of 185. If he can keep up this absurd pace, it would be Yelich’s best second half since his MVP season in 2018. Sure, it's a small sample size. But so far, Yelich's numbers and his new found willingness to go opposite field are plenty valuable. It’s been said that Yelich needs to be on his A-game for the Brewers to go far, and so far, so good.
  16. The Brewers are off to a hot start in the second half, and no one is more responsible than Yelich himself. It might finally be happening. Between injuries, poor play, and batted-ball bad luck, Christian Yelich hasn’t been the same player since 2019. While the 2018-2019 Yelich might be a blip in the past, the new and improved second half Yelich isn’t a bad consolation prize. The Brewers are 7-2 since the All-Star break, and in those nine games, Yelich has recorded at least one hit. He’s introduced a new mechanical change into his swing, doing away with his old leg kick in favor of a toe tap. The new approach has helped Yelich timing wise, and done wonders for his production too. His slash line since the break sits at .344/488/.563, good for a WRC+ of 185. If he can keep up this absurd pace, it would be Yelich’s best second half since his MVP season in 2018. Sure, it's a small sample size. But so far, Yelich's numbers and his new found willingness to go opposite field are plenty valuable. It’s been said that Yelich needs to be on his A-game for the Brewers to go far, and so far, so good. View full article
  17. The outfield, laden with veteran bats, was supposed to be the engine that drives the Brewers offense. But one of the pistons stopped firing, and the Brew Crew is searching for solutions. See if you agree with our grades. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below. View full article
  18. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders grades, check out yesterday’s story. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Christian Yelich * .251/.347/.379 * -3 OAA * Left Field Grade: B- It’s been an uphill climb ever since Chirstain Yelich ended his 2019 season with a knee injury. His MVP-Caliber production has faded, but the new Yelich hasn’t been nearly as bad as some fans would want you to believe. After a slow start, the Brewers moved Yelich to the leadoff spot, where he thrived. His slash line batting first sits at .288/.390/.400. The only thing Yelich is truly missing from years past is his power. Looking forward, fans can see Yelich is closer to regaining his former self than has been since the injury. Advanced metrics have always loved Yelich as a hitter, with this year being no exception. It remains to be seen what numbers he actually posts in the second half. Tyrone Taylor * .228/.277/.423 * 2 OAA * Center Field(?) Grade: C+ Expectations for Taylor coming into the season looked to be him filling the role as the 5th outfielder on the roster. But Lorenzo Cain’s disastrous start led to him being designated for assignment, and when injuries began to pile up, Taylor was thrown into a bigger role, with varying success. He has struggled to get on-base, posting the lowest OBP of anyone still with the team. However, he’s shown flashes of power and clutch hitting, with 9 HR, and a .375 AVG with RISP. His defense has been good too, but the Brewers would like the bat to be a bit better. Taylor is an easy player to root for, and he’ll probably see a return to the lineup after the All-Star Break, assuming there are not setbacks in his recovery from a concussion. It remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will add another center fielder at the deadline, so it’s hard to predict what kind of second half Taylor is capable of having. Andrew McCutchen * .255/.317/.386 * -1 OAA * Designated Hitter Grade: B- A former MVP in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen was a late addition in the offseason. The 35-year-old struggled early in the season after a brief hot start, but has picked it up as of late. Serving as the Brewers primary DH, Cutch doesn’t see much time in the field, but has been solid when asked to play the corner outfield spots. McCutchen's slash line since June 1st sits at .296/.368/.461. This could be omen for good things to come, as he is too good of a player to be posting league average numbers over a full season. Hunter Renfroe * .243/.294/.477 * 1 OAA * Right Field Grade: B Hunter Renfroe was acquired in a last second deal before the lockout in a trade that sent Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. If fans remember the season JBJ had last year, it’s easy to conclude Renfroe has been much, much better. After a slow start he began to hit better, but numerous injuries have sidelined him for a large chunk of games. His defense, especially his arm, has been as advertised in RF, which is a huge plus too. If Renfroe can stay healthy the rest of the way through the season, the consistent playing time will allow him to be a key contributor to the Brewers both offensively and defensively. That remains to be seen though. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below.
  19. The problem for Christian Yelich is that he is in a no-win situation with many in the fanbase. If he goes 0-for-4 or fails to get the big hit in the 9th inning, he's an overpaid bum who should be cut or traded. Reach base three times and drive in a pair of runs late in the game: yeah, that's why you're paid $26 million. We know it's a "what have you done for me lately" profession, but it is sad to see how quickly people turn on a great player, lose all sense of appreciation, and look to cut him down or run him out of town - often because he makes a lot of money. This isn't to defend a professional athlete or to feel sorry for him. Yelich, like countless Major Leaguers, gets paid extremely well, and criticisms are part of the job. They should expect a certain level of negativity to come their way when they don't play up to par. At the same time, there should be a better perspective on the big picture regarding an athlete's overall time in a city. Yelich is an excellent example of this and why it is important (in my opinion) for fans to act like they actually like the team or player, and not be bitter, radio-call-in guys who yell at the clouds. Let's start with the money since that is the go-to for nearly every complaint about Yelich. He is indeed getting paid to perform like one of the best players in the league, and his stats over the past three seasons have left much to be desired. The funny thing is, people rarely brought up how little he was being paid in 2018 and 2019 compared to his incredible production. While winning MVP in 2018 and putting up better stats in 2019, Yelich made just $7 million and $9.75 million, respectively. I don't recall people organizing a fundraiser to pay the man what he deserved during those two seasons. Do you want to know what Yelich was "worth" during those two phenomenal campaigns? "You can put the work in, but you're not guaranteed results." That line should stand out. I'm all for getting on a guy who doesn't seem to adjust or work at his craft, but we have never been given any indication that Yelich lacks that drive. Perhaps even he had to recognize the best version of himself is gone, and since moving to the leadoff spot, he is focusing on how he can best help the team. In 29 games at the top of the order, Yelich owns a .391 OBP. The power isn't there, but nothing is more important as the leadoff man than getting on base. This is who he is right now, and it is the most effective way he can improve the Brewers' offense. If you can take that angle when watching him, it will give you want a more realistic view of the current player. So, back to the contract and Yelich's value, because that is what most want to lean on. From 2018 through the end of this season, Yelich will have earned just over $57 million with Milwaukee (COVID limited 2020 to $4.63 million). Here's a breakdown of what he has been paid (and will be) and the FanGraphs dollar value. Are you surprised that Yelich has been worth $10 million this season thus far? He still has time to get closer to his actual salary this year. You can also see that Yelly "outperformed" his pay in Milwaukee by more than $100 million from 2018-2021. No one complained about that. And lastly, if he can be worth a shade over $77 million during the next seven years, he would have been precisely worth his salary with the Brewers. Again, the big picture with the peaks and valleys of a career. The Milwaukee Brewers have been in the playoffs each season since he arrived in 2018. For a franchise that struggled to consistently reach the .500 mark for too many seasons, people should recognize Yelich as a significant factor in the modern Brewers' run of success that has seen them in the postseason four straight years. In fairness, when at American Family Field, it appears most fans are still cheering loudly for Yelich and honestly hoping he does well because he is "our guy" if you're a Brewers fan. Maybe it's just different on social media where Twitter tough guys can rant in public, then secretly cheer when Yelich does well. Ultimately, you can like or hate a player - that is up to you. I hope some people take a step back and maybe support a guy who has done much for the team they supposedly love. Act with encouragement and understanding instead of labeling him every negative thing you can think of and tossing him aside. What is the point? If you want the Brewers to win a World Series, Yelich has to be a part of it at this point. He isn't getting traded or released, so get that out of your head. We aren't talking about Gary Sheffield, who clearly wanted out of Milwaukee and would hurt the team to get it done. Yelich cares. He wants to be here and help bring a championship to Milwaukee. It's too bad it has gotten to this point, but barring a World Series title, Yelich is in a no-win situation with many fans.
  20. When it comes to rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers (or any team), many fans exist only to complain or find fault with players. We all fall into this trap to some extent, even if briefly, with certain athletes. Much of Brewers fans' ire has been directed at Christian Yelich the past few seasons, and frankly, it has gone too far. The problem for Christian Yelich is that he is in a no-win situation with many in the fanbase. If he goes 0-for-4 or fails to get the big hit in the 9th inning, he's an overpaid bum who should be cut or traded. Reach base three times and drive in a pair of runs late in the game: yeah, that's why you're paid $26 million. We know it's a "what have you done for me lately" profession, but it is sad to see how quickly people turn on a great player, lose all sense of appreciation, and look to cut him down or run him out of town - often because he makes a lot of money. This isn't to defend a professional athlete or to feel sorry for him. Yelich, like countless Major Leaguers, gets paid extremely well, and criticisms are part of the job. They should expect a certain level of negativity to come their way when they don't play up to par. At the same time, there should be a better perspective on the big picture regarding an athlete's overall time in a city. Yelich is an excellent example of this and why it is important (in my opinion) for fans to act like they actually like the team or player, and not be bitter, radio-call-in guys who yell at the clouds. Let's start with the money since that is the go-to for nearly every complaint about Yelich. He is indeed getting paid to perform like one of the best players in the league, and his stats over the past three seasons have left much to be desired. The funny thing is, people rarely brought up how little he was being paid in 2018 and 2019 compared to his incredible production. While winning MVP in 2018 and putting up better stats in 2019, Yelich made just $7 million and $9.75 million, respectively. I don't recall people organizing a fundraiser to pay the man what he deserved during those two seasons. Do you want to know what Yelich was "worth" during those two phenomenal campaigns? "You can put the work in, but you're not guaranteed results." That line should stand out. I'm all for getting on a guy who doesn't seem to adjust or work at his craft, but we have never been given any indication that Yelich lacks that drive. Perhaps even he had to recognize the best version of himself is gone, and since moving to the leadoff spot, he is focusing on how he can best help the team. In 29 games at the top of the order, Yelich owns a .391 OBP. The power isn't there, but nothing is more important as the leadoff man than getting on base. This is who he is right now, and it is the most effective way he can improve the Brewers' offense. If you can take that angle when watching him, it will give you want a more realistic view of the current player. So, back to the contract and Yelich's value, because that is what most want to lean on. From 2018 through the end of this season, Yelich will have earned just over $57 million with Milwaukee (COVID limited 2020 to $4.63 million). Here's a breakdown of what he has been paid (and will be) and the FanGraphs dollar value. Are you surprised that Yelich has been worth $10 million this season thus far? He still has time to get closer to his actual salary this year. You can also see that Yelly "outperformed" his pay in Milwaukee by more than $100 million from 2018-2021. No one complained about that. And lastly, if he can be worth a shade over $77 million during the next seven years, he would have been precisely worth his salary with the Brewers. Again, the big picture with the peaks and valleys of a career. The Milwaukee Brewers have been in the playoffs each season since he arrived in 2018. For a franchise that struggled to consistently reach the .500 mark for too many seasons, people should recognize Yelich as a significant factor in the modern Brewers' run of success that has seen them in the postseason four straight years. In fairness, when at American Family Field, it appears most fans are still cheering loudly for Yelich and honestly hoping he does well because he is "our guy" if you're a Brewers fan. Maybe it's just different on social media where Twitter tough guys can rant in public, then secretly cheer when Yelich does well. Ultimately, you can like or hate a player - that is up to you. I hope some people take a step back and maybe support a guy who has done much for the team they supposedly love. Act with encouragement and understanding instead of labeling him every negative thing you can think of and tossing him aside. What is the point? If you want the Brewers to win a World Series, Yelich has to be a part of it at this point. He isn't getting traded or released, so get that out of your head. We aren't talking about Gary Sheffield, who clearly wanted out of Milwaukee and would hurt the team to get it done. Yelich cares. He wants to be here and help bring a championship to Milwaukee. It's too bad it has gotten to this point, but barring a World Series title, Yelich is in a no-win situation with many fans. View full article
  21. Game 1 -- Pirates 8, Brewers 7 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202206300.shtml Beleaguered Brewers starter Adrian Houser was knocked around again, giving up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings before leaving the game with what was later called "elbow tightness". While Houser has not pitched well of late, an already banged up Brewers rotation can ill afford another long IL stay from yet another starter. Christian Yelich continued his hot hitting from the leadoff spot, knocking an RBI triple in the third inning, and scoring on an RBI groundout, and went two for five on the night. The big story for the night was Pittsburgh backup catcher Michael Perez, who came into the game with a career OPS below .550 and just twelve career homeruns in over 500 plate appearances, who hammered three home runs on the night. Hitting one off of Houser, another off of Brent Suter, and finally, tagging Jason Alexander in the sixth inning, for three of the five homeruns the Pirates hit on the night. Down 8-4, the Brewers put up a rally in the ninth inning, with Jace Peterson and Yelich reaching on Singles, and Willy Adames hitting an RBI double. After Rowdy Tellez drove in another run with a groundout, Andrew McCutchen walked and Kolten Wong singled to bring the Crew to within a run at 8-7, but the rally was snuffed out as Luis Urias flew out to end the game. Houser takes the loss, and his record drops to 4-8 on the season. Game 2 -- Brewers 19, Pirates 2 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202207010.shtml That's not a typo. The Brewers put up a nineteen spot on the Pirates. Corbin Burnes , who hasn't exactly been the beneficiary of heavy run support, watched his offense put up a seven spot in the second inning. Burnes struggled a bit with the command tonight, walking four and hitting a batter, but he gave up just one hit and one run. In that second inning, the Brewers batted around and then some, with Urias, Keston Hiura, and Tellez all hitting home runs for the Brewers, and chasing Pirates starter Austin Brice from the game after just 1 2/3 innings. The homerun from Tellez, his 16th, was a three run shot that tied him for the team lead with Adames at sixteen, just before the halfway point of the season. Tellez notched two more RBI in the fourth inning with a two run double, giving him five RBI for the night, and pushing the Brewers lead to 9-0. In the eighth inning, the Pirates brought in reliever Cam Vieaux, and the Brewers proceeded to knock the rookie reliever around. The first ten batters reached base as Vieaux pitched to fourteen batters and threw 56 pitches in the inning. Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters after the game that he was saving his bullpen. The most pitches thrown in an inning since that data has been kept (1988) is 62, by Russ Ortiz. A notorious record to be chasing, to be sure. During the Brewers eighth inning, with the game well in hand, there wasn't much else to do but add to the Brewers run differential, and that's just what Willy did with the bases loaded. Pirates first baseman Josh VanMeter moved to the mound for the ninth, and Victor Caratini greeted him with his sixth home run of the season, pushing the score to 18-2, and the Brewers closed out the scoring with a groundout RBI from Mike Brosseau. Manager Craig Counsell turned to Brosseau to close this one out, and he nearly pitched a clean ninth inning, aside from an error from second baseman Hiura. With the easy win, Burnes moves to 7-4 Game 3 - Pirates 7, Brewers 4 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202207020.shtml Aaron Ashby returned from the IL to take the mound for the Crew as the Brewers tried to earn at least a split of the series. The Brewers struck in the top of the first with a two out RBI single from Wong. The Brewers lost a golden opportunity in the second when with men on second and third with just one out, Yelich lined out and Peterson was doubled off of third base to end the inning. Ashby worked through the first pair of frames with just a walk and a single, punching out four Pirates batters. In the third, he ran into trouble, and with one run already in, surrendered a home run to Brian Reynolds . In the fourth inning, the Pirates exciting rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz took Ashby deep, and Ashby's day came to a close at just 3 2/3 innings. Yelich brought the Brewers back within a pair with his eighth home run in the top of the fifth, In the bottom of the frame, Trevor Gott allowed a pair of walks, and was one out away from getting out of the inning when he was relieved by Hoby Milner. The normally reliable Milner surrendered a pair of base hits before getting the third out and the Brewers were down 7-2. The Brewers grabbed a pair of runs back in the eighth on a solo home run by Wong and an RBI double by Peterson, but ultimately couldn't muster a rally in the ninth. The Brewers had baserunners in every inning today, but hit into a pair of double plays and burned a runner caught stealing a base. Ashby's record drops to 1-6 and the Brewers head into the series finale needing a win to get the split. Game 4 -- Brewers 2, Pirates 0 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401355416 Brandon Woodruff 's second start back from the IL wasn't quite as good as the first one, but the result was the same. Six innings, no runs allowed, and eight strikeouts today as the Brewers shutout the Pirates behind another solid start from Woodruff. For the second start in a row, Woodruff didn't walk a batter. The Brewers offense didn't do much for Woodruff today, but in the fifth inning, Omar Narvaez provided all the offense the Brewers would need. Narvaez's third homerun of the season made it 2-0 Brewers, and that would be all the margin the Crew would need. After Woodruff pitched six innings, the usual lockdown trio of Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader picked up the last three innings. Unusually, all three of them had runners on base today. Boxberger gave up a walk and a hit, but worked out of the seventh, and Hader loaded the bases in the ninth with a walk, a single, and a batter reaching on a strikeout/wild pitch combo. Despite all the traffic, he secured his 25th save in game number 81, making a winner of Woodruff, who is now 7-3 on the season. The Brewers will now head home and face the Cubs.
  22. Before returning home for the 4th of July, the Brewers play four in the Steel City. The Brewers come into the series 6-0 on the season against the Bucs. Red hot Rowdy Tellez has a pair of multi-homerun games in the last week, and looks to add onto his total. Game 1 -- Pirates 8, Brewers 7 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202206300.shtml Beleaguered Brewers starter Adrian Houser was knocked around again, giving up five runs in just 2 1/3 innings before leaving the game with what was later called "elbow tightness". While Houser has not pitched well of late, an already banged up Brewers rotation can ill afford another long IL stay from yet another starter. Christian Yelich continued his hot hitting from the leadoff spot, knocking an RBI triple in the third inning, and scoring on an RBI groundout, and went two for five on the night. The big story for the night was Pittsburgh backup catcher Michael Perez, who came into the game with a career OPS below .550 and just twelve career homeruns in over 500 plate appearances, who hammered three home runs on the night. Hitting one off of Houser, another off of Brent Suter, and finally, tagging Jason Alexander in the sixth inning, for three of the five homeruns the Pirates hit on the night. Down 8-4, the Brewers put up a rally in the ninth inning, with Jace Peterson and Yelich reaching on Singles, and Willy Adames hitting an RBI double. After Rowdy Tellez drove in another run with a groundout, Andrew McCutchen walked and Kolten Wong singled to bring the Crew to within a run at 8-7, but the rally was snuffed out as Luis Urias flew out to end the game. Houser takes the loss, and his record drops to 4-8 on the season. Game 2 -- Brewers 19, Pirates 2 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202207010.shtml That's not a typo. The Brewers put up a nineteen spot on the Pirates. Corbin Burnes , who hasn't exactly been the beneficiary of heavy run support, watched his offense put up a seven spot in the second inning. Burnes struggled a bit with the command tonight, walking four and hitting a batter, but he gave up just one hit and one run. In that second inning, the Brewers batted around and then some, with Urias, Keston Hiura, and Tellez all hitting home runs for the Brewers, and chasing Pirates starter Austin Brice from the game after just 1 2/3 innings. The homerun from Tellez, his 16th, was a three run shot that tied him for the team lead with Adames at sixteen, just before the halfway point of the season. Tellez notched two more RBI in the fourth inning with a two run double, giving him five RBI for the night, and pushing the Brewers lead to 9-0. In the eighth inning, the Pirates brought in reliever Cam Vieaux, and the Brewers proceeded to knock the rookie reliever around. The first ten batters reached base as Vieaux pitched to fourteen batters and threw 56 pitches in the inning. Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters after the game that he was saving his bullpen. The most pitches thrown in an inning since that data has been kept (1988) is 62, by Russ Ortiz. A notorious record to be chasing, to be sure. During the Brewers eighth inning, with the game well in hand, there wasn't much else to do but add to the Brewers run differential, and that's just what Willy did with the bases loaded. Pirates first baseman Josh VanMeter moved to the mound for the ninth, and Victor Caratini greeted him with his sixth home run of the season, pushing the score to 18-2, and the Brewers closed out the scoring with a groundout RBI from Mike Brosseau. Manager Craig Counsell turned to Brosseau to close this one out, and he nearly pitched a clean ninth inning, aside from an error from second baseman Hiura. With the easy win, Burnes moves to 7-4 Game 3 - Pirates 7, Brewers 4 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT202207020.shtml Aaron Ashby returned from the IL to take the mound for the Crew as the Brewers tried to earn at least a split of the series. The Brewers struck in the top of the first with a two out RBI single from Wong. The Brewers lost a golden opportunity in the second when with men on second and third with just one out, Yelich lined out and Peterson was doubled off of third base to end the inning. Ashby worked through the first pair of frames with just a walk and a single, punching out four Pirates batters. In the third, he ran into trouble, and with one run already in, surrendered a home run to Brian Reynolds . In the fourth inning, the Pirates exciting rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz took Ashby deep, and Ashby's day came to a close at just 3 2/3 innings. Yelich brought the Brewers back within a pair with his eighth home run in the top of the fifth, In the bottom of the frame, Trevor Gott allowed a pair of walks, and was one out away from getting out of the inning when he was relieved by Hoby Milner. The normally reliable Milner surrendered a pair of base hits before getting the third out and the Brewers were down 7-2. The Brewers grabbed a pair of runs back in the eighth on a solo home run by Wong and an RBI double by Peterson, but ultimately couldn't muster a rally in the ninth. The Brewers had baserunners in every inning today, but hit into a pair of double plays and burned a runner caught stealing a base. Ashby's record drops to 1-6 and the Brewers head into the series finale needing a win to get the split. Game 4 -- Brewers 2, Pirates 0 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401355416 Brandon Woodruff 's second start back from the IL wasn't quite as good as the first one, but the result was the same. Six innings, no runs allowed, and eight strikeouts today as the Brewers shutout the Pirates behind another solid start from Woodruff. For the second start in a row, Woodruff didn't walk a batter. The Brewers offense didn't do much for Woodruff today, but in the fifth inning, Omar Narvaez provided all the offense the Brewers would need. Narvaez's third homerun of the season made it 2-0 Brewers, and that would be all the margin the Crew would need. After Woodruff pitched six innings, the usual lockdown trio of Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams, and Josh Hader picked up the last three innings. Unusually, all three of them had runners on base today. Boxberger gave up a walk and a hit, but worked out of the seventh, and Hader loaded the bases in the ninth with a walk, a single, and a batter reaching on a strikeout/wild pitch combo. Despite all the traffic, he secured his 25th save in game number 81, making a winner of Woodruff, who is now 7-3 on the season. The Brewers will now head home and face the Cubs. View full article
  23. Let's take a look at Christian Yelich to see if these last few years are the new him. Two time All-Star, Christian Yelich has had a highly documented fall from grace from his 2018 N.L. MVP-winning season and 2019, where he came runner-up in the N.L. MVP race to Cody Bellinger. The Californian born in December 1991, making him 30 years old, earned many accolades from pundits in his first two years before injuries seemingly derailed his career, cutting short his monster 2019 season. He definitely did enough to sign a huge contract before the start of the 2020 season, but has not lived up to it. Hello! Welcome to a new series where I, Caswell, go through the nerdy stuff to try to make it a little more simple so others can be more Well Informed with the statistics. We are going to go through how a player compares to themselves over previous years, against the rest of the team and league for that year, and maybe even get some historical comparisons. So is he still falling? Are things back on track? Should fans shun him? Let’s find out Before Milwaukee Before joining the Brewers, Yelich wasn’t the star the Brewers saw his first two years in Milwaukee, but he was still very good. He never hit lower than 0.282 in his five seasons in Miami, launching 21 and 18 home runs in his last two years before the switch. Yelich consistently showed a great bat, along with a keen eye, walking 300 times in the five years in Florida. This culminated into a great OPS+ each season. OPS+ uses the players regular OPS, which is on-base plus slugging, and normalizes it across the entire league, while also adjusting for additional factors such as the ballpark played. The average OPS+ is 100, so a player who earns an OPS that is 10% better than league average will get an OPS+ of 110, without taking into account external factors. The above graph shows that he was above average every single year as a Marlin, so far as to get an OPS+ of 135 in 2016. WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement, is a lot of math which comes out to the number of wins a particular player gets for their team instead of a “replacement level player,” which is defined by Major League Baseball as a minor league replacement or available fill-in free agent. (If you want to read more about this very interesting statistic, Baseball Reference does a great job at explaining it further.) It is a counting statistic, such that it will culminate over the entirety of a player’s career. Despite this, it is earned throughout the entirety of the season, so one’s WAR can be found for just one year. WAR less than 0 means that a team is better off with a replacement. Commonly, WAR between 0-2 would be considered a bench player, while anything above that is considered a starter. Typically, when a player has a WAR above 5, they are All-Star worthy, and above 8 is MVP worthy. Yelich’s WAR over his 5 seasons with Miami, he was a 17.6 WAR player, getting as much as 4.9 WAR in 2016, which is the year he got his first Silver Slugger Award. He also only played 62 games in 2013, but still got 1.6 WAR as a rookie. He was definitely a good player as a Marlin, but his first two years in Milwaukee were down-right fantastic, winning his second and third Silver Slugger Awards, and placing first and second in MVP voting in the N.L. back to back. First Two Years in Milwaukee In the trade that brought Yelich to Milwaukee, the Brewers sent a haul of prospects, including highly ranked prospect, Lewis Brinson, along with Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto, fans weren’t too sure what they were going to get. He was definitely a good player as a Marlin, but Lewis Brinson was thought to have a very bright future, ranking in the top 20 of all prospects for over two years. Nonetheless, Yelich’s output in his first two years in Milwaukee were down-right fantastic, winning his second and third Silver Slugger Awards, and placing first and second in MVP voting in the N.L. back to back and silencing the critics. As such, I will just let the numbers speak for themselves by comparing him to some all-time greats and their 162 game average as calculated by Baseball Reference. The current generation is represented by Mike Trout, a player who is already being considered the greatest player of all time. Ty Cobb, the pure greatest hitter of all-time, is used. Finally, Henry Aaron, a Milwaukee baseball hero will end the comparison. Despite playing in 147 games in 2018 and 130 games in 2019, Yelich is still close in all counting statistics among the 162 game average for the legends of the game selected in this comparison. His 44 home runs in 2019 is at the top of the list. He has the second and third highest batting average and has the highest and third highest OPS. 2018 Yelich is three RBIs behind Henry Aaron in RBI, and second in totals hits behind Ty Cobb. He was quite frankly, fantastic. Christian earned 7.3 WAR in 2018 and 7 in 2019, his first two years in Milwaukee, ranking among the leaders in most statistics. Yelich’s Fall Yelich only played in 130 games in 2019, which is a result of a season ending broken kneecap he sustained in September of 2019. In that offseason, Yelich signed a 7 year, $188.5M contract extension, keeping him in Milwaukee until 2028, which also includes a mutual option for 2029. This seemed like an absolute bargain at the time due to his incredible play and being a fan favorite, marking him a Brewer for likely the rest of his career. The morale surrounding this deal would come crashing down as struggles persisted. In the COVID shortened year, he played 58 of the 60 games yielded a batting average of 0.205, down from 0.326 and 0.329 in his first two years. His on-base percentage slid to 0.356 with an OPS+ of only 110. He hit 12 big flies and had 22 RBIs. There was concern, but it wasn’t massive, as there were substantial abnormalities that year and many players struggled. Injuries plagued his 2021 season, in which he had three different stints on the injured list with a lower back strain. He spent 20 days in the INjured List, came off for a day, before going back on for another 15 days. The third was a 12-day stint on the COVID-19 IL. This back issue is one that first came up while in the Marlins’ farm system and early years in Miami. Yelich only played in 117 games in the full season. His batting average improved to 0.248, but his OBP only improved marginally to 0.362 and his power numbers truly tanked, hitting only 9 home runs on the year. This resulted in the lowest OPS of his career, at 0.736 and an OPS+ of 99, meaning he was an ever-so-slightly below average batter that year. Alarmingly, he went from an MVP caliber player, to a borderline bench player, in terms of WAR. What Changed? The stats clearly took a plunge, but what else varied in his second two years as a Brewer compared to his first? The first thing to look at is his strikeout percentage and his walk percentage each year. We can see that his strikeout rate went up significantly, and his walk rate went up as well, with a significant jump in 2020 which can be attributed to the COVID year and his stellar 2019. Typically, the average strikeout and walk rates across the MLB sit around 20% and 8%, respectively. This means Yelich’s strikeout rate is fine and he walks well. The bump in the later two years is significant, but would not impact his overall statistics that much The approach at the plate of Yelich seems to have changed after his first two years, as he was a center to pull hitter, which is seen above, but highlighted below. Meanwhile, the 2020 season showed a much more consistent approach, with hot zones to the opposite field and on the pull side of center, with the latter showing a glimpse of the old Yeli. 2021 appears to be going back to the old, but clearly shows a more even approach, skewing to the opposite field a lot more. Typically this would show improvement at the plate, but does not apply to Yelich, as most of his success comes from pulling the ball, or going towards center. Another very important thing is where he is missing the ball. The following four graphics are Whiff %, which is swing and miss strikes per swing, over the four years show that they increase and expand. Whiff %: Christian Yelich The K% shows similarities to above, as the rates expand and increase in the second year of two years. In addition to that, he wasn’t hitting the ball as well as often despite having a decent hard hit percentage. This is explicitly seen in the barrel per plate appearance stat, as it was an elite rate in the first two years, but slunk down to MLB average levels, which is denoted as the dashed line. `So what about now? To start, he is pulling the ball much more again, which is a good sign for Yelich. The minor issue, however, is still the strikeout rate, as it sits at 25.2%, which is 1.4% higher than last year’s mark of 23.8%, but 5.6% down from 2020’s dreadful 30.8% strikeout rate. Despite this, his zonal strikeout percent looks significantly better, as inside pitches are no longer as much of an issue. His K% on the outside of the zone is still quite high, but is less severe than in 2020-2021, and he has reintroduced more low strikeout zones, which allows him to look for pitches better, as many pitchers will look to avoid those areas on an at bat where they are looking for a strikeout. When considering these strikeout percent numbers, it is important to look at the swing rate, as well as the whiff rate in these areas. From this data, we can see that his swing and misses in the strike zone are quite slim, while he is swinging at most of the pitches inside the strike zone. This is evident by his 64.3% zone swing percentage (66.9%), which is actually lower than league average, but his 83.2% zone contact percentage is higher than league average (82.0%). This works well for him, as his chase rate is 20.2%, which is the rate pitches outside of the zone are swung at, is significantly less than league average (28.3%). This shows that pitchers have to look for other ways to get him out, especially considering his contact percentage on all swings is 76.1% The other way pitchers have to get him out for the most part is via the ground ball, which is how he hits the ball 55.9% of the time. The league average is 45.0%, meaning Yelich puts the ball on the ground more than 10% more than average! It may be surprising, but his career average is at 54.8%. A more telling metric however is the ratio of ground outs to air outs compared to his ratio of ground balls to fly balls. His GO:AO is 1.52, but his GB:FB is only 1.24. This means that when he hits the ball, he is significantly more likely to record an out than if he is to hit the ball on the ground. This is not just because the fly balls hit are gone for home runs however, as only 10.0% of balls hit in the air leave the park. This is down a lot from his numbers in 2018 and 2019, which were 22.2% and 20.7%, respectively. The most important thing about this trend, however, is what this means for his hitting, which is the major concern. His hit rate, which is the total hits per total at bats is down to 24.23%, which was up to as high as 32.58% in 2018, and 32.92% in 2019. He is hitting a home run 2.4% of the time, down from 5.5% in 2018 and 7.6% in 2019. Is Yelich Done For? The pure numbers don’t look great, I’ll admit it, but I still believe in Christian Yelich, and so should you. His barrel per plate appearance is up to 6.9 and at lead-off he is starting to tear it up, hitting 0.298 when first in the lineup, with an OBP of 0.353. His slugging is only at 0.426, leading to an OPS of 0.779 in this spot. This is better than the 0.703 OPS across the entire league, but I think his can go higher yet than what we have seen from him at the top of the order. This is in large part due to his lack of line drives he has hit, which is only at 16.8%, down from his career average of 25.5%. His hard hit rate is good, at 50.8% and even better, his sweet spot rate, which is the rate in which the idealized combination of launch angle and exit velocity, is at 31.8%. His line drive rate is just suboptimal. Not just this, but teams have begun to utilize a pitch, which he cannot seem to square up. This is the changeup, which is being hit hard only 36.8% of the time, and is only garnering a paltry 0.103 batting average off of. In fact, all of his off speed hitting is slightly down. The good thing about this though, is that he is absolutely destroying fastballs, and overall, his numbers should be quite a bit better. His expected weighted batting average is 0.310 and he is in the top 10% in the league in hard hit rate, he just needs to start hitting those off-speed pitches again and put the ball on a line. Christian Yelich might not be the best in the league, but he will be good, once a few things change. So what would you like for me to analyze next time on CasWell Informed? It could be anything baseball related! Let me know in the comments and I'll keep an eye out! Thank you for reading! View full article
  24. Two time All-Star, Christian Yelich has had a highly documented fall from grace from his 2018 N.L. MVP-winning season and 2019, where he came runner-up in the N.L. MVP race to Cody Bellinger. The Californian born in December 1991, making him 30 years old, earned many accolades from pundits in his first two years before injuries seemingly derailed his career, cutting short his monster 2019 season. He definitely did enough to sign a huge contract before the start of the 2020 season, but has not lived up to it. Hello! Welcome to a new series where I, Caswell, go through the nerdy stuff to try to make it a little more simple so others can be more Well Informed with the statistics. We are going to go through how a player compares to themselves over previous years, against the rest of the team and league for that year, and maybe even get some historical comparisons. So is he still falling? Are things back on track? Should fans shun him? Let’s find out Before Milwaukee Before joining the Brewers, Yelich wasn’t the star the Brewers saw his first two years in Milwaukee, but he was still very good. He never hit lower than 0.282 in his five seasons in Miami, launching 21 and 18 home runs in his last two years before the switch. Yelich consistently showed a great bat, along with a keen eye, walking 300 times in the five years in Florida. This culminated into a great OPS+ each season. OPS+ uses the players regular OPS, which is on-base plus slugging, and normalizes it across the entire league, while also adjusting for additional factors such as the ballpark played. The average OPS+ is 100, so a player who earns an OPS that is 10% better than league average will get an OPS+ of 110, without taking into account external factors. The above graph shows that he was above average every single year as a Marlin, so far as to get an OPS+ of 135 in 2016. WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement, is a lot of math which comes out to the number of wins a particular player gets for their team instead of a “replacement level player,” which is defined by Major League Baseball as a minor league replacement or available fill-in free agent. (If you want to read more about this very interesting statistic, Baseball Reference does a great job at explaining it further.) It is a counting statistic, such that it will culminate over the entirety of a player’s career. Despite this, it is earned throughout the entirety of the season, so one’s WAR can be found for just one year. WAR less than 0 means that a team is better off with a replacement. Commonly, WAR between 0-2 would be considered a bench player, while anything above that is considered a starter. Typically, when a player has a WAR above 5, they are All-Star worthy, and above 8 is MVP worthy. Yelich’s WAR over his 5 seasons with Miami, he was a 17.6 WAR player, getting as much as 4.9 WAR in 2016, which is the year he got his first Silver Slugger Award. He also only played 62 games in 2013, but still got 1.6 WAR as a rookie. He was definitely a good player as a Marlin, but his first two years in Milwaukee were down-right fantastic, winning his second and third Silver Slugger Awards, and placing first and second in MVP voting in the N.L. back to back. First Two Years in Milwaukee In the trade that brought Yelich to Milwaukee, the Brewers sent a haul of prospects, including highly ranked prospect, Lewis Brinson, along with Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto, fans weren’t too sure what they were going to get. He was definitely a good player as a Marlin, but Lewis Brinson was thought to have a very bright future, ranking in the top 20 of all prospects for over two years. Nonetheless, Yelich’s output in his first two years in Milwaukee were down-right fantastic, winning his second and third Silver Slugger Awards, and placing first and second in MVP voting in the N.L. back to back and silencing the critics. As such, I will just let the numbers speak for themselves by comparing him to some all-time greats and their 162 game average as calculated by Baseball Reference. The current generation is represented by Mike Trout, a player who is already being considered the greatest player of all time. Ty Cobb, the pure greatest hitter of all-time, is used. Finally, Henry Aaron, a Milwaukee baseball hero will end the comparison. Despite playing in 147 games in 2018 and 130 games in 2019, Yelich is still close in all counting statistics among the 162 game average for the legends of the game selected in this comparison. His 44 home runs in 2019 is at the top of the list. He has the second and third highest batting average and has the highest and third highest OPS. 2018 Yelich is three RBIs behind Henry Aaron in RBI, and second in totals hits behind Ty Cobb. He was quite frankly, fantastic. Christian earned 7.3 WAR in 2018 and 7 in 2019, his first two years in Milwaukee, ranking among the leaders in most statistics. Yelich’s Fall Yelich only played in 130 games in 2019, which is a result of a season ending broken kneecap he sustained in September of 2019. In that offseason, Yelich signed a 7 year, $188.5M contract extension, keeping him in Milwaukee until 2028, which also includes a mutual option for 2029. This seemed like an absolute bargain at the time due to his incredible play and being a fan favorite, marking him a Brewer for likely the rest of his career. The morale surrounding this deal would come crashing down as struggles persisted. In the COVID shortened year, he played 58 of the 60 games yielded a batting average of 0.205, down from 0.326 and 0.329 in his first two years. His on-base percentage slid to 0.356 with an OPS+ of only 110. He hit 12 big flies and had 22 RBIs. There was concern, but it wasn’t massive, as there were substantial abnormalities that year and many players struggled. Injuries plagued his 2021 season, in which he had three different stints on the injured list with a lower back strain. He spent 20 days in the INjured List, came off for a day, before going back on for another 15 days. The third was a 12-day stint on the COVID-19 IL. This back issue is one that first came up while in the Marlins’ farm system and early years in Miami. Yelich only played in 117 games in the full season. His batting average improved to 0.248, but his OBP only improved marginally to 0.362 and his power numbers truly tanked, hitting only 9 home runs on the year. This resulted in the lowest OPS of his career, at 0.736 and an OPS+ of 99, meaning he was an ever-so-slightly below average batter that year. Alarmingly, he went from an MVP caliber player, to a borderline bench player, in terms of WAR. What Changed? The stats clearly took a plunge, but what else varied in his second two years as a Brewer compared to his first? The first thing to look at is his strikeout percentage and his walk percentage each year. We can see that his strikeout rate went up significantly, and his walk rate went up as well, with a significant jump in 2020 which can be attributed to the COVID year and his stellar 2019. Typically, the average strikeout and walk rates across the MLB sit around 20% and 8%, respectively. This means Yelich’s strikeout rate is fine and he walks well. The bump in the later two years is significant, but would not impact his overall statistics that much The approach at the plate of Yelich seems to have changed after his first two years, as he was a center to pull hitter, which is seen above, but highlighted below. Meanwhile, the 2020 season showed a much more consistent approach, with hot zones to the opposite field and on the pull side of center, with the latter showing a glimpse of the old Yeli. 2021 appears to be going back to the old, but clearly shows a more even approach, skewing to the opposite field a lot more. Typically this would show improvement at the plate, but does not apply to Yelich, as most of his success comes from pulling the ball, or going towards center. Another very important thing is where he is missing the ball. The following four graphics are Whiff %, which is swing and miss strikes per swing, over the four years show that they increase and expand. Whiff %: Christian Yelich The K% shows similarities to above, as the rates expand and increase in the second year of two years. In addition to that, he wasn’t hitting the ball as well as often despite having a decent hard hit percentage. This is explicitly seen in the barrel per plate appearance stat, as it was an elite rate in the first two years, but slunk down to MLB average levels, which is denoted as the dashed line. `So what about now? To start, he is pulling the ball much more again, which is a good sign for Yelich. The minor issue, however, is still the strikeout rate, as it sits at 25.2%, which is 1.4% higher than last year’s mark of 23.8%, but 5.6% down from 2020’s dreadful 30.8% strikeout rate. Despite this, his zonal strikeout percent looks significantly better, as inside pitches are no longer as much of an issue. His K% on the outside of the zone is still quite high, but is less severe than in 2020-2021, and he has reintroduced more low strikeout zones, which allows him to look for pitches better, as many pitchers will look to avoid those areas on an at bat where they are looking for a strikeout. When considering these strikeout percent numbers, it is important to look at the swing rate, as well as the whiff rate in these areas. From this data, we can see that his swing and misses in the strike zone are quite slim, while he is swinging at most of the pitches inside the strike zone. This is evident by his 64.3% zone swing percentage (66.9%), which is actually lower than league average, but his 83.2% zone contact percentage is higher than league average (82.0%). This works well for him, as his chase rate is 20.2%, which is the rate pitches outside of the zone are swung at, is significantly less than league average (28.3%). This shows that pitchers have to look for other ways to get him out, especially considering his contact percentage on all swings is 76.1% The other way pitchers have to get him out for the most part is via the ground ball, which is how he hits the ball 55.9% of the time. The league average is 45.0%, meaning Yelich puts the ball on the ground more than 10% more than average! It may be surprising, but his career average is at 54.8%. A more telling metric however is the ratio of ground outs to air outs compared to his ratio of ground balls to fly balls. His GO:AO is 1.52, but his GB:FB is only 1.24. This means that when he hits the ball, he is significantly more likely to record an out than if he is to hit the ball on the ground. This is not just because the fly balls hit are gone for home runs however, as only 10.0% of balls hit in the air leave the park. This is down a lot from his numbers in 2018 and 2019, which were 22.2% and 20.7%, respectively. The most important thing about this trend, however, is what this means for his hitting, which is the major concern. His hit rate, which is the total hits per total at bats is down to 24.23%, which was up to as high as 32.58% in 2018, and 32.92% in 2019. He is hitting a home run 2.4% of the time, down from 5.5% in 2018 and 7.6% in 2019. Is Yelich Done For? The pure numbers don’t look great, I’ll admit it, but I still believe in Christian Yelich, and so should you. His barrel per plate appearance is up to 6.9 and at lead-off he is starting to tear it up, hitting 0.298 when first in the lineup, with an OBP of 0.353. His slugging is only at 0.426, leading to an OPS of 0.779 in this spot. This is better than the 0.703 OPS across the entire league, but I think his can go higher yet than what we have seen from him at the top of the order. This is in large part due to his lack of line drives he has hit, which is only at 16.8%, down from his career average of 25.5%. His hard hit rate is good, at 50.8% and even better, his sweet spot rate, which is the rate in which the idealized combination of launch angle and exit velocity, is at 31.8%. His line drive rate is just suboptimal. Not just this, but teams have begun to utilize a pitch, which he cannot seem to square up. This is the changeup, which is being hit hard only 36.8% of the time, and is only garnering a paltry 0.103 batting average off of. In fact, all of his off speed hitting is slightly down. The good thing about this though, is that he is absolutely destroying fastballs, and overall, his numbers should be quite a bit better. His expected weighted batting average is 0.310 and he is in the top 10% in the league in hard hit rate, he just needs to start hitting those off-speed pitches again and put the ball on a line. Christian Yelich might not be the best in the league, but he will be good, once a few things change. So what would you like for me to analyze next time on CasWell Informed? It could be anything baseball related! Let me know in the comments and I'll keep an eye out! Thank you for reading!
  25. Can the Brewers find their footing against Christian Yelich's biggest punching bag? Here's hoping! After a historically dismal start, the Reds have quietly put up a competent campaign that has seen them move from worst team in baseball to merely the worst team in the National League. The Reds were transparent in their sell-off, and any competitive asset remaining on their team is only by virtue of legacy (Joey Votto), injury (Luis Castillo) or… utter mystery (Mike Moustakas). More likely Moose’s continued presence in Cincy is on account of hoping his trade value develop into something more substantive than where it presently stands. Either way, they knew they were going to be bad and bad they have been. What undergirds all of their badness are flickers of hope in some promising youngsters. Chief among them has been the prodigious Hunter Greene , who’s relatively slow start recently veered into an NL Player Of The Week performance. In twelve innings in two starts, Greene put up an astonishing 0.75 ERA and 0.42 WHIP while striking out 15 batters. This all against the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, neither of whom are slouches at the plate. Friday June 17th Eric Lauer (5-2 3.36 ERA) Hunter Greene (3-7 5.10 ERA) This match-up will depend on who shows up. If it’s Lauer and Greene of April, the Brewers have it in the bag. If the Lauer of the last two starts shows up against the Greene of his previous two, the Brewers are doomed. My guess is that the truth about who these pitchers are is somewhere in the middle and this will be a great duel. Saturday June 18th Jason Alexander (0-0 2.16 ERA) Graham Ashcraft (3-0 2.22 ERA) Strictly from a spectators standpoint, this is the match up I’m most excited for. Two young arms who’ve shown up in a big way for two teams with opposite stakes. Jason Alexander is merely trying to keep a wounded rotation afloat to stay competitive in a situation where the Brewers are suddenly looking up and seeing red birds. Sunday June 19th Adrian Houser (3-7 4.21 ERA) Mike Minor (1-2 7.36 ERA) This is a crucial shot for Houser to rebound after fading in late May into what has been a dismal June. Luckily Cincinnati’s poor offense and a struggling Mike Minor are likely to provide a soft landing spot for Houser to get his feet back on the ground. Players to watch Hunter Greene: The kid is electric. If his previous two starts are more indicative of his skills than the preceding starts (and peripherals suggest that they are) the Brewers and their hibernating offense might as well pack it in. Brandon Drury: Never thought I’d ever recommend anyone pointedly watch Drury or his career 0.3 WAR, but seven years in the majors, the veteran utility bat is putting up quite a decent little year for himself. This is especially relevant as we get nearer and nearer to the trade season and players injure or exhaust themselves out of the batting order. A team defined by austerity like Milwaukee may very well snag a player like Drury when the time comes. Graham Ashcraft: Scheduled to start the second game of the season, this young righty has quietly become a reasonable contender for a RoY pick. I’m as surprised as you are, but what has he done 28.1 innings? Put up a 1.7 WAR while going 3-0 with 15 K’s. Considering Ashcraft comes immediately after Greene, the team that looked like a cakewalk a month ago is suddenly a legitimate threat. Christian Yelich : If there's a team that can jump start the struggling former MVP's bat it's Cincinnati, against whom he seemingly can't stop hitting for the cycle. Predictions Dare I say anything? I think the Crew takes the series two-to-one. The offense is a big question mark in this series, but the Reds aren’t exactly powerhouses in that department either, and the Brewers are unquestionably the better team. View full article
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