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  1. In an offseason that seems to contain so much uncertainty, perhaps it's one of the "other" Milwaukee Brewers starting pitchers who get traded. While the focus has been on Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and even Adrian Houser, left-hander Eric Lauer might be the best option to swing a deal. Image courtesy of © Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports Undoubtedly, Eric Lauer has provided terrific value for the Milwaukee Brewers over the past two seasons. Early in 2022, Lauer performed like a co-ace with lights-out stuff. Through his first seven starts, Lauer posted a 2.16 ERA with 54 strikeouts and only eight walks (6.75 K/BB). He would finish the season with a 3.69 ERA across 158.2 innings, second most on the Brewers behind Corbin Burnes. That's not the production from a pitcher you cast aside for the heck of it, especially with two seasons of control remaining. On the flip side, one could point to several areas of concern that would lead the Brewers to try to sell high. Teams are always looking to add solid starting pitchers to their rosters, and a few clubs clearly need to upgrade their rotations. Lauer projects to make around $5.2 million in arbitration in 2023, which would also be appealing to front offices in search of an arm. So while Lauer isn't going to tilt the field as much as Burnes or Woodruff, he could offer more to a team than many of the free-agent options and at a much better cost - beyond the personnel they would have to give up. Looking at his Statcast rankings from 2022, they don't jump out at you. A lot of average rankings could mean trouble in the near future, and stats further indicate negative regression is coming. Aside from the many low percentiles, there are other reasons GM Matt Arnold could see now as the best time to move Lauer: Home Runs Allowed Lauer missed being a "qualified starter" by less than four innings, but it's close enough to see he would have tied for the second-worst home runs per nine innings (HR/9) rate in baseball. His 1.5 HR/9 in 2022 jumped from 1.3 HR/9 in 2021, as he permitted 27 long balls in 29 starts. If he increased his strikeout rate, you would feel slightly better about the gopher balls; however, with the pitch clock coming in 2023, many believe strikeouts will go down. Too Many Free Passes Among qualified pitchers in 2022, Lauer would have finished with the third-worst walks per nine innings rate (BB/9) at 3.3. This also declined from the previous season when he had a career-best 3.1 BB/9. That is quite telling on its own. The combo of a higher homer rate and walk rate is a recipe for disaster, though Lauer has managed to succeed despite this the last two seasons. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) FIP was created to assess better what a pitcher controls and how that would look as a separate "ERA." Because of his walks and home runs allowed, Lauer owned a 4.50 FIP in 2022. Comparing that to his 3.69 ERA, some argue he was fortunate, considering his FIP was almost a full point higher. He had a similar difference in 2021 (3.19 ERA vs. 4.04 FIP), which could mean one of two things. He either outperforms his FIP as a part of his skill set, or he is playing with fire and could soon blow up carrying the much higher FIP. Clubhouse Presence Look, I'm not in the clubhouse, and I am not pretending to know how Lauer's multiple strong statements came across to his teammates (or the front office). However, we all should acknowledge that some of his comments might have rubbed players and staff the wrong way when talking about the front office "sending the wrong message" with the Josh Hader trade and how they weren't trying to put the team in the best position to win in 2022. Even if what he says is true, most prefer keeping those conversations in-house, not blasted to the public. If he has burned some bridges or fractured the group somehow, Milwaukee could see it as addition by subtraction. Additional Rotation Options If you're trading Lauer, you're likely keeping Burnes and Woodruff. Past those two, Milwaukee would still have Freddy Peralta, Aaron Ashby, and Houser to go with potential call-ups from the minors, such as Ethan Small and Robert Gasser (acquired in the Josh Hader trade). There are also many free-agent options that would be valuable mid-level starters the Brewers could afford to snatch for a couple of seasons. With one free agent arm, Milwaukee would essentially have eight arms for the rotation, not counting smaller moves the club is likely to make. Those are a few reasons the Brewers would entertain trading Lauer this off-season. And despite those potential negatives, he should have enough value to another club to offer a fairly significant return - at least more than Houser. Teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Texas Rangers are searching hard for starting pitcher options. Even clubs like the New York Mets (free agent losses) and Los Angeles Dodgers (injuries and prospects) could be in the market. Could the Brewers offer Lauer and a prospect to the Blue Jays for one of their three catchers like Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk? Would the Orioles or Rangers be willing to part with one or two solid prospects from their terrific farm systems ranked first and sixth, respectively? Options abound across multiple teams, and the Brewers should be open to any creative paths to success in 2023 and beyond. View full article
  2. Undoubtedly, Eric Lauer has provided terrific value for the Milwaukee Brewers over the past two seasons. Early in 2022, Lauer performed like a co-ace with lights-out stuff. Through his first seven starts, Lauer posted a 2.16 ERA with 54 strikeouts and only eight walks (6.75 K/BB). He would finish the season with a 3.69 ERA across 158.2 innings, second most on the Brewers behind Corbin Burnes. That's not the production from a pitcher you cast aside for the heck of it, especially with two seasons of control remaining. On the flip side, one could point to several areas of concern that would lead the Brewers to try to sell high. Teams are always looking to add solid starting pitchers to their rosters, and a few clubs clearly need to upgrade their rotations. Lauer projects to make around $5.2 million in arbitration in 2023, which would also be appealing to front offices in search of an arm. So while Lauer isn't going to tilt the field as much as Burnes or Woodruff, he could offer more to a team than many of the free-agent options and at a much better cost - beyond the personnel they would have to give up. Looking at his Statcast rankings from 2022, they don't jump out at you. A lot of average rankings could mean trouble in the near future, and stats further indicate negative regression is coming. Aside from the many low percentiles, there are other reasons GM Matt Arnold could see now as the best time to move Lauer: Home Runs Allowed Lauer missed being a "qualified starter" by less than four innings, but it's close enough to see he would have tied for the second-worst home runs per nine innings (HR/9) rate in baseball. His 1.5 HR/9 in 2022 jumped from 1.3 HR/9 in 2021, as he permitted 27 long balls in 29 starts. If he increased his strikeout rate, you would feel slightly better about the gopher balls; however, with the pitch clock coming in 2023, many believe strikeouts will go down. Too Many Free Passes Among qualified pitchers in 2022, Lauer would have finished with the third-worst walks per nine innings rate (BB/9) at 3.3. This also declined from the previous season when he had a career-best 3.1 BB/9. That is quite telling on its own. The combo of a higher homer rate and walk rate is a recipe for disaster, though Lauer has managed to succeed despite this the last two seasons. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) FIP was created to assess better what a pitcher controls and how that would look as a separate "ERA." Because of his walks and home runs allowed, Lauer owned a 4.50 FIP in 2022. Comparing that to his 3.69 ERA, some argue he was fortunate, considering his FIP was almost a full point higher. He had a similar difference in 2021 (3.19 ERA vs. 4.04 FIP), which could mean one of two things. He either outperforms his FIP as a part of his skill set, or he is playing with fire and could soon blow up carrying the much higher FIP. Clubhouse Presence Look, I'm not in the clubhouse, and I am not pretending to know how Lauer's multiple strong statements came across to his teammates (or the front office). However, we all should acknowledge that some of his comments might have rubbed players and staff the wrong way when talking about the front office "sending the wrong message" with the Josh Hader trade and how they weren't trying to put the team in the best position to win in 2022. Even if what he says is true, most prefer keeping those conversations in-house, not blasted to the public. If he has burned some bridges or fractured the group somehow, Milwaukee could see it as addition by subtraction. Additional Rotation Options If you're trading Lauer, you're likely keeping Burnes and Woodruff. Past those two, Milwaukee would still have Freddy Peralta, Aaron Ashby, and Houser to go with potential call-ups from the minors, such as Ethan Small and Robert Gasser (acquired in the Josh Hader trade). There are also many free-agent options that would be valuable mid-level starters the Brewers could afford to snatch for a couple of seasons. With one free agent arm, Milwaukee would essentially have eight arms for the rotation, not counting smaller moves the club is likely to make. Those are a few reasons the Brewers would entertain trading Lauer this off-season. And despite those potential negatives, he should have enough value to another club to offer a fairly significant return - at least more than Houser. Teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, and Texas Rangers are searching hard for starting pitcher options. Even clubs like the New York Mets (free agent losses) and Los Angeles Dodgers (injuries and prospects) could be in the market. Could the Brewers offer Lauer and a prospect to the Blue Jays for one of their three catchers like Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk? Would the Orioles or Rangers be willing to part with one or two solid prospects from their terrific farm systems ranked first and sixth, respectively? Options abound across multiple teams, and the Brewers should be open to any creative paths to success in 2023 and beyond.
  3. The good news is that the Brewers are good. The bad news is that the clock is ticking on the Brewers' competitive window. That much is crystal clear when looking at the Brewers' rotation's payroll situation for 2023, even at a back-of-the-napkin level. Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports A mid-market MLB team's competitive window is highly dependent on the timing of their team control over impactful players. After accumulating six full years of service time, players become free agents, and the core of a winning team can crumble. In the Brewers' case, that potential deadline becomes clear as we look deeper into the salaries of the Brewers' starting rotation. This is Part 3 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders and outfielders and came up with a $74M commitment for next year. Today we add at starting pitching. Corbin Burnes made $6.5M last year in his first year in arbitration. This is only his second arbitration year (of three), meaning the team can keep him around through 2024 – provided they're willing to give him some pretty significant raises. That includes a boost to the $10-11M range next year. The team is equally fortunate to control Brandon Woodruff for two more years with all the same caveats. He's one of those lucky players who gets four years of arbitration, but the Brewers have used two of them, and he'll also likely reach around $10M next year in salary. Freddy Peralta would be in the same boat as Burnes and Woodruff with two more years of arbitration left, but he signed a guaranteed contract extension in 2020. That means the Brewers are only paying him $3.5M next year and can keep him under team control through 2026 at very reasonable salaries. Add Eric Lauer to the list of starting pitchers to whom the Brewers can offer arbitration for two more years. But because he hasn't been as effective, he's going to be quite a bit cheaper, closer to $5M for 2023. And believe it or not, there is one more. Adrian Houser will also qualify for arbitration for two more years. Last year, he lost his arbitration case and received a contract for about $2.4M. I don't know that it's a slam dunk that they offer a 29-year-old groundball pitcher with a 4.73 ERA arbitration. But I think they will, and they can expect to pay him about 3.5M or so. So four of the five pitchers, including the two aces, will be free agents following the 2024 season. In addition, our look at the Brewers' infield payroll showed that 2024 is also the year after which Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez will become free agents. That sure feels like the end of a competitive window. As we look at what the team might do to bolster itself for 2023, it's worth remembering that the core of the team could have a sudden and massive exodus in one or two years. Plugging those numbers into our spreadsheet, the team looks like this for 2023: We've topped the $100M mark and still haven't touched the rebuilt bullpen. Next, we'll see if Josh Hader's departure provides the team some salary space for other free agent signings. See any omissions or any issues with the numbers? I'd love to hear them. Just throw them or your reactions in the comments below. View full article
  4. A mid-market MLB team's competitive window is highly dependent on the timing of their team control over impactful players. After accumulating six full years of service time, players become free agents, and the core of a winning team can crumble. In the Brewers' case, that potential deadline becomes clear as we look deeper into the salaries of the Brewers' starting rotation. This is Part 3 of a series of stories detailing the payroll situation for the Milwaukee Brewers at a back-of-the-napkin level. Previously, we looked at the total salaries of the infielders and outfielders and came up with a $74M commitment for next year. Today we add at starting pitching. Corbin Burnes made $6.5M last year in his first year in arbitration. This is only his second arbitration year (of three), meaning the team can keep him around through 2024 – provided they're willing to give him some pretty significant raises. That includes a boost to the $10-11M range next year. The team is equally fortunate to control Brandon Woodruff for two more years with all the same caveats. He's one of those lucky players who gets four years of arbitration, but the Brewers have used two of them, and he'll also likely reach around $10M next year in salary. Freddy Peralta would be in the same boat as Burnes and Woodruff with two more years of arbitration left, but he signed a guaranteed contract extension in 2020. That means the Brewers are only paying him $3.5M next year and can keep him under team control through 2026 at very reasonable salaries. Add Eric Lauer to the list of starting pitchers to whom the Brewers can offer arbitration for two more years. But because he hasn't been as effective, he's going to be quite a bit cheaper, closer to $5M for 2023. And believe it or not, there is one more. Adrian Houser will also qualify for arbitration for two more years. Last year, he lost his arbitration case and received a contract for about $2.4M. I don't know that it's a slam dunk that they offer a 29-year-old groundball pitcher with a 4.73 ERA arbitration. But I think they will, and they can expect to pay him about 3.5M or so. So four of the five pitchers, including the two aces, will be free agents following the 2024 season. In addition, our look at the Brewers' infield payroll showed that 2024 is also the year after which Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez will become free agents. That sure feels like the end of a competitive window. As we look at what the team might do to bolster itself for 2023, it's worth remembering that the core of the team could have a sudden and massive exodus in one or two years. Plugging those numbers into our spreadsheet, the team looks like this for 2023: We've topped the $100M mark and still haven't touched the rebuilt bullpen. Next, we'll see if Josh Hader's departure provides the team some salary space for other free agent signings. See any omissions or any issues with the numbers? I'd love to hear them. Just throw them or your reactions in the comments below.
  5. The Milwaukee Brewers Best Rookie and Most Improved, as voted by Brewer Fanatic staff, have been revealed. We find our way once again on the mound where Corbin Burnes follows up his 2021 Cy Young Award-winning season with the 2022 Brewer Fanatic Pitcher of the Year Award. I'm sure it's just as meaningful to the 27-year-old. Before we get into Corbin Burnes’ 2022 season, let’s get into who he beat out in Pitcher of the Year voting, starting with a couple of Honorable Mentions. Honorable Mentions Eric Lauer and Hoby Milner just missed out on the top three. Lauer had a great season, starting the second-most games for the Brewers and having an ERA of 3.69. He surely would have ranked higher if it weren’t for those blow-up starts. Milner was named Brewer Fanatic's Most Improved Player and has previously been discussed in this series of articles (which you should definitely go back and read), but was heavily used. His 67 games pitched was second most on the team. He finished with a 3.72 ERA. Others receiving votes: Josh Hader and Freddy Peralta. 3rd: Devin Williams 6-4, 1.93 ERA, 60 2/3 IP, 14.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9 Devin Williams earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022 after struggling with command to start the season. He recovered and went on to be dominant and became the primary closer following Josh Hader’s departure. Things were bumpy, but he still compiled 15 saves (and was charged with two blown saves). Williams struck out 40.0% of batters faced, and had a WHIP of 1.01 to go along with his 2.01 FIP. 2nd: Brandon Woodruff 13-4, 3.05 ERA, 153 1/3 IP, 11.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.2 H/9, 1.1 HR/9 Despite missing a month due to a well documented injury, Brandon Woodruff went on to be an important contributor and very consistent. After a poor first outing of the season in which he allowed 7 runs across 3.2 innings, Woody would only have 3 other outings where he allowed more than 3. 15 of his 27 games were quality starts, which was second best on the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite his very good numbers, he was let down a little by relievers who came in to clean up any mess, as 9 of his runners which were inherited went on to score. He is the only player besides Burnes to receive a 1st place vote. Expect more good to come! Pitcher of the Year - Corbin Burnes 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 202.0 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.4 H/9, 1.0 HR/9 A big question mark going into the season was Corbin Burnes’ durability. Even though he had won the 2021 Cy Young Award, he pitched less than 200 innings, one of 17 pitchers to win the award with that (including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and strike-shortened 1984 season). These concerns were silenced, as he paced the league - along with Gerrit Cole, Nick Pivetta, and Merrill Kelly - with 33 games started and fourth in innings pitched with 202.0 innings. Burnes had a fantastic 21 quality starts, good for eighth across the league and his 243 strikeouts were second, only behind Cole. There were some minor struggles for the Brewers’ ace, but a dominant eight-inning performance against the Miami Marlins on September 30th, resulting in a 1-0 win over fellow Cy Young Award contender Sandy Alcantara cemented his place as best overall pitcher. Your turn... There probably isn't going to be much, if any, argument about the selection of Corbin Burnes as Pitcher of the Year. How would you rank the top three or four Brewers pitchers in 2022? View full article
  6. Before we get into Corbin Burnes’ 2022 season, let’s get into who he beat out in Pitcher of the Year voting, starting with a couple of Honorable Mentions. Honorable Mentions Eric Lauer and Hoby Milner just missed out on the top three. Lauer had a great season, starting the second-most games for the Brewers and having an ERA of 3.69. He surely would have ranked higher if it weren’t for those blow-up starts. Milner was named Brewer Fanatic's Most Improved Player and has previously been discussed in this series of articles (which you should definitely go back and read), but was heavily used. His 67 games pitched was second most on the team. He finished with a 3.72 ERA. Others receiving votes: Josh Hader and Freddy Peralta. 3rd: Devin Williams 6-4, 1.93 ERA, 60 2/3 IP, 14.2 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 4.6 H/9, 0.3 HR/9 Devin Williams earned his first All-Star appearance in 2022 after struggling with command to start the season. He recovered and went on to be dominant and became the primary closer following Josh Hader’s departure. Things were bumpy, but he still compiled 15 saves (and was charged with two blown saves). Williams struck out 40.0% of batters faced, and had a WHIP of 1.01 to go along with his 2.01 FIP. 2nd: Brandon Woodruff 13-4, 3.05 ERA, 153 1/3 IP, 11.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 7.2 H/9, 1.1 HR/9 Despite missing a month due to a well documented injury, Brandon Woodruff went on to be an important contributor and very consistent. After a poor first outing of the season in which he allowed 7 runs across 3.2 innings, Woody would only have 3 other outings where he allowed more than 3. 15 of his 27 games were quality starts, which was second best on the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite his very good numbers, he was let down a little by relievers who came in to clean up any mess, as 9 of his runners which were inherited went on to score. He is the only player besides Burnes to receive a 1st place vote. Expect more good to come! Pitcher of the Year - Corbin Burnes 12-8, 2.94 ERA, 202.0 IP, 10.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.4 H/9, 1.0 HR/9 A big question mark going into the season was Corbin Burnes’ durability. Even though he had won the 2021 Cy Young Award, he pitched less than 200 innings, one of 17 pitchers to win the award with that (including the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and strike-shortened 1984 season). These concerns were silenced, as he paced the league - along with Gerrit Cole, Nick Pivetta, and Merrill Kelly - with 33 games started and fourth in innings pitched with 202.0 innings. Burnes had a fantastic 21 quality starts, good for eighth across the league and his 243 strikeouts were second, only behind Cole. There were some minor struggles for the Brewers’ ace, but a dominant eight-inning performance against the Miami Marlins on September 30th, resulting in a 1-0 win over fellow Cy Young Award contender Sandy Alcantara cemented his place as best overall pitcher. Your turn... There probably isn't going to be much, if any, argument about the selection of Corbin Burnes as Pitcher of the Year. How would you rank the top three or four Brewers pitchers in 2022?
  7. While the Brewers fell short of the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, there were still noteworthy performances on the diamond to talk about. Congratulations to the Brewer Fanatic Most Improved Player for 2022, Hoby Milner! The Brewers came into 2022 with high hopes, riding the wave of four consecutive playoff appearances. However, by the end of the year, despite tallying 86 wins, the Crew fell just short of the Phillies for the final wild-card spot. Amid injuries, and at times inconsistent offense, and a pitching staff that just didn't perform up to the very high standards that were set for them in 2021, the team just wasn't able to put together long stretches of wins after a 32-18 start that was the best fifty game season opening in franchise history. Despite the failure to reach the playoffs, there's still more than a handful of positives to take from an eighty-six-win team and in this article, we're going to look at the most improved players on the 2022 Brewers. 3rd place SP Eric Lauer On the surface, Lauer's statistics look pretty similar from 2021 to 2022. He posted a 3.69 ERA and a 4.50 FIP in 2022, compared to a 3.19 ERA and a 4.04 FIP in 2021. His WHIP, walk, and K rates are almost all the same from season to season. His home run rate took a slight bump up, unfortunately. Lauer did stay on the field for the '22 Brewers, making 29 starts and throwing 158 2/3 innings. Lauer had stretches in 2022 where he looked close to becoming the "fourth ace" for the Brewers, joining Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta at the top of the rotation. He carried an ERA in the low twos until mid-June when he got blown up for eight earned runs in a single start. Lauer's last start of the season he pitched six hitless innings and was removed for pitch count. More so for those stretches where he flashed "ace" material and not necessarily the raw numbers, and coming into his age twenty-eight season, Lauer earned a few "most improved" votes from the panel. 2nd place DH/UTIL Keston Hiura For the time that Hiura was in the lineup in 2022, he didn't return to his rookie form, but definitely added some punch to the lineup, with a .765 OPS and fourteen home runs in 266 plate appearances. After his disastrous 2021 campaign, getting any kind of offensive production out of Hiura had to be looked at as a bonus for the Crew. Hiura's reverse splits (.866 ops vs RHP, .619 OPS vs LHP) were a hindering factor, as he saw 109 of his 266 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. While it's heartening to see him providing offense, he'll probably have to continue to work on his reverse splits and cut down the strikeout rate (41.7% in 2022) for him to find a full-time job in 2023. 1st place RP Hoby Milner Hoby Milner entered 2022 with a total of 77 1/3 innings pitched for four teams over five seasons, and they had been best described as "bad" at best, and that could be considered generous. Over his previous two seasons, Milner had surrendered a ghastly thirteen home runs over just 35 innings. Coming into 2022, it's hard to know what the Brewers expected from Milner. A sidearm lefty who barely hits ninety, who's historically been really bad against righties, who will now have to face a minimum of three batters? That sounded like a recipe for disaster. I'm not here to tell you Hoby Milner is suddenly a Cy Young candidate, or reliever of the year candidate, or even that he's going to be great next year. Relievers, by nature, are pretty volatile from year to year. But in 2022 Milner caught proverbial lightning in a bottle and had a solid season from the front to the back. Throwing 64 2/3 innings, Milner posted a respectable 3.76 ERA/3.16 FIP, while lowering his home runs allowed to just five over those 64 2/3 innings. On top of that, Milner's splits were much better than they had been historical allowing just a .704 OPS against right-handers, against a .655 OPS vs. left-handed batters. With the Brewers bullpen going from a strength in 2021 to a sudden (and inexplicable) weakness in 2022, having Milner become a reliable middle-inning option was one of the few things that seemed to go right for the Brewers pen this year. Certainly, the role of the LOOGY has changed, and it appeared that there wouldn't be a place in the game for soft-tossing left-handers that struggle to get out right-handed batters. Milner certainly adjusted last year, and if he finds his way onto the Brewers in 2023, we'll hope he continues having success. Congratulations to Hoby Milner. Now let us know who you think was the Most Improved Brewers player in 2022? View full article
  8. The Brewers came into 2022 with high hopes, riding the wave of four consecutive playoff appearances. However, by the end of the year, despite tallying 86 wins, the Crew fell just short of the Phillies for the final wild-card spot. Amid injuries, and at times inconsistent offense, and a pitching staff that just didn't perform up to the very high standards that were set for them in 2021, the team just wasn't able to put together long stretches of wins after a 32-18 start that was the best fifty game season opening in franchise history. Despite the failure to reach the playoffs, there's still more than a handful of positives to take from an eighty-six-win team and in this article, we're going to look at the most improved players on the 2022 Brewers. 3rd place SP Eric Lauer On the surface, Lauer's statistics look pretty similar from 2021 to 2022. He posted a 3.69 ERA and a 4.50 FIP in 2022, compared to a 3.19 ERA and a 4.04 FIP in 2021. His WHIP, walk, and K rates are almost all the same from season to season. His home run rate took a slight bump up, unfortunately. Lauer did stay on the field for the '22 Brewers, making 29 starts and throwing 158 2/3 innings. Lauer had stretches in 2022 where he looked close to becoming the "fourth ace" for the Brewers, joining Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta at the top of the rotation. He carried an ERA in the low twos until mid-June when he got blown up for eight earned runs in a single start. Lauer's last start of the season he pitched six hitless innings and was removed for pitch count. More so for those stretches where he flashed "ace" material and not necessarily the raw numbers, and coming into his age twenty-eight season, Lauer earned a few "most improved" votes from the panel. 2nd place DH/UTIL Keston Hiura For the time that Hiura was in the lineup in 2022, he didn't return to his rookie form, but definitely added some punch to the lineup, with a .765 OPS and fourteen home runs in 266 plate appearances. After his disastrous 2021 campaign, getting any kind of offensive production out of Hiura had to be looked at as a bonus for the Crew. Hiura's reverse splits (.866 ops vs RHP, .619 OPS vs LHP) were a hindering factor, as he saw 109 of his 266 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. While it's heartening to see him providing offense, he'll probably have to continue to work on his reverse splits and cut down the strikeout rate (41.7% in 2022) for him to find a full-time job in 2023. 1st place RP Hoby Milner Hoby Milner entered 2022 with a total of 77 1/3 innings pitched for four teams over five seasons, and they had been best described as "bad" at best, and that could be considered generous. Over his previous two seasons, Milner had surrendered a ghastly thirteen home runs over just 35 innings. Coming into 2022, it's hard to know what the Brewers expected from Milner. A sidearm lefty who barely hits ninety, who's historically been really bad against righties, who will now have to face a minimum of three batters? That sounded like a recipe for disaster. I'm not here to tell you Hoby Milner is suddenly a Cy Young candidate, or reliever of the year candidate, or even that he's going to be great next year. Relievers, by nature, are pretty volatile from year to year. But in 2022 Milner caught proverbial lightning in a bottle and had a solid season from the front to the back. Throwing 64 2/3 innings, Milner posted a respectable 3.76 ERA/3.16 FIP, while lowering his home runs allowed to just five over those 64 2/3 innings. On top of that, Milner's splits were much better than they had been historical allowing just a .704 OPS against right-handers, against a .655 OPS vs. left-handed batters. With the Brewers bullpen going from a strength in 2021 to a sudden (and inexplicable) weakness in 2022, having Milner become a reliable middle-inning option was one of the few things that seemed to go right for the Brewers pen this year. Certainly, the role of the LOOGY has changed, and it appeared that there wouldn't be a place in the game for soft-tossing left-handers that struggle to get out right-handed batters. Milner certainly adjusted last year, and if he finds his way onto the Brewers in 2023, we'll hope he continues having success. Congratulations to Hoby Milner. Now let us know who you think was the Most Improved Brewers player in 2022?
  9. Freddy Peralta was forced from the game during his last start due to shoulder fatigue. Now officially diagnosed as shoulder inflammation, he returns to the IL after originally being placed there back in May. Peralta has been great for the Brewers this year tallying a 3.45 ERA across 15 starts. Eric Lauer has been reliable and healthy for Milwaukee this year making 26 starts and pitching 145 innings. His 3.91 ERA is workable and he’s been a solid back-end starter. Now hitting the injured list, it’s all but certain his season could be over. The Brewers will have to piece together their rotation during the season’s final weeks. Milwaukee recalled Trevor Kelley to eat innings as a reliever. He returns to a 6.00 ERA across 21 innings this season. The developments to the starting rotation are not good for the Brewers. As they try to remain in the hunt for postseason positioning, losing two key arms is quite the blow. Milwaukee has dealt with starting pitching injuries all year, and they’ll have to again juggle the group.
  10. Over the weekend Milwaukee made a handful of transactions that impacted the Major League roster. Starter Freddy Peralta was placed back on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, and he was joined by Eric Lauer, who’s dealing with left elbow inflammation. Trevor Kelley was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Freddy Peralta was forced from the game during his last start due to shoulder fatigue. Now officially diagnosed as shoulder inflammation, he returns to the IL after originally being placed there back in May. Peralta has been great for the Brewers this year tallying a 3.45 ERA across 15 starts. Eric Lauer has been reliable and healthy for Milwaukee this year making 26 starts and pitching 145 innings. His 3.91 ERA is workable and he’s been a solid back-end starter. Now hitting the injured list, it’s all but certain his season could be over. The Brewers will have to piece together their rotation during the season’s final weeks. Milwaukee recalled Trevor Kelley to eat innings as a reliever. He returns to a 6.00 ERA across 21 innings this season. The developments to the starting rotation are not good for the Brewers. As they try to remain in the hunt for postseason positioning, losing two key arms is quite the blow. Milwaukee has dealt with starting pitching injuries all year, and they’ll have to again juggle the group. View full article
  11. While the Milwaukee Brewers' offense has flaws and can frustrate the fans on any given night, the pitching has been the bigger problem. More specifically, the group of men expected to dominate opponents this year has come up short. From a pure run-scoring perspective, the Brewers' offense is essentially the same as last year. In 2021, Milwaukee scored 4.56 runs/game compared to 4.55 this season. However, the run-scoring environment in MLB is tougher in 2022, so the Brewers rank eighth in runs this season versus 12th last year. You can point to various issues with the offense and the number of games they score fewer than three runs, but overall it's hard to complain about a top-10 offense in baseball. Turning to the pitching staff and many may be surprised by the mediocre numbers. The club's 3.87 team ERA is right in the middle of MLB pitching. While ERA doesn't tell the whole story, it says a lot that Milwaukee ranked third last season in ERA at 3.50 overall. For a team that's championship aspirations are built on dominating hurlers, a dip from third to 14th in ERA is devastating. Where has it gone wrong? The first thought likely turns to the bullpen, where things have seemingly been more tumultuous than usual. Devin Williams got off to a terrible start, Brent Suter was below average most of the first half, and Brad Boxberger has looked worn down for much of the last couple of months. Throw in the usual spate of injuries, the shocking trade of Josh Hader (who was already scuffling), and the predictable issues of many others, and one would believe the relievers are the main problem. Without diving into advanced statistics, the numbers say otherwise. This simple look at the bullpen basically puts them in the same range as last season. Part of it stems from manager Craig Counsell and his strategies to limit the use of his best relievers in low leverage situations. Perhaps the back end of the bullpen has been slightly less reliable this season, but it could also be that they have been put in too many tight spots to hold up. Some of that is a lack of run-scoring, but it also falls on the starting rotation to give the relievers some breathing room. Milwaukee's starters have been the more significant problem - and it's not close. Led by Cy Young hurler Corbin Burnes, the rotation was expected to be among the best in baseball once again. It hasn't gone so well. It's quite shocking to see the stats next to each other from the past two seasons. If we people told us the Brewers' starters would be a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2022, most would have felt fortunate if Milwaukee was even in the hunt for a postseason berth. The St. Louis Cardinals might be tough to catch at this point, but that doesn't mean the season's over. With a month to play and the Wild Card still easily in sight, a spot in the postseason will come down to better, more consistent starting pitching. With essentially the same rotation as last season, the drop in performance lies mainly with those returning arms and some areas they struggled in. Now, when you scroll through these five pitchers and compare their ERAs from this year to last year, keep one thing in mind: the league-wide ERA is 0.28 lower this season than it was in 2021. So as disappointing as the ERA spikes have been, the drop in production is even more dismal than the raw stats show. CORBIN BURNES - 2.84 ERA (2.43 in 2021) The reigning Cy Young is allowing the highest fly ball percentage (FB%) in his career (36.5%). Opponents also have their best hard-hit percentage against Burnes since his disastrous 2019 campaign. Putting those two pieces together has played a prominent role in Burnes' disturbing trend of giving up gopher balls. Last year, Burnes allowed seven home runs for the entire season. With a month to go, he has already given up 19 dingers in 2022. BRANDON WOODRUFF - 3.31 ERA (2.56 in 2021) Woody has been terrific since returning from injury. However, when he has struggled, it has been due to walks. Woodruff owns a 7.2% walk rate (BB%), the highest in a season since 2018 for the righty. In each of the previous three seasons, he has finished with a 6.1 BB%. Allowing more bases runners and driving up his pitch count has led to the worse ERA and throwing the fewest amount of innings per start since 2018. ERIC LAUER - 3.58 ERA (3.19 in 2021) After getting off to a Cy Young-worthy start to the season, Lauer quickly fell back to Earth and has been about the same as last year. His biggest issue, like Burnes, has been the home run ball. Among qualified pitchers in MLB, Lauer has the highest home run per nine innings rate at 1.7 HR/9. With his BB% up and his K% down from last season, the long ball has taken a greater toll and dinged his ERA even more than in 2022. ADRIAN HOUSER - 5.15 ERA (3.22 in 2021) Houser has looked the worst of the five typical starters, even before his injury and one start upon return. His 5.15 ERA this season is driven by allowing the highest percentage of line drives and fly balls since becoming a regular starter. As a pitcher who relies heavily on getting ground balls with his sinker, when opponents get more balls in the air, they tend to be hit well and cause plenty of damage. FREDDY PERALTA - 3.56 (2.81 in 2021) Fastball Freddy has only thrown 68.1 frames due to time on the IL with a strained right lat. However, it also sticks out that his strikeout percentage (K%) is easily the worst of his career. At 26.9%, his K% is five percent below his career mark. It's difficult to fairly evaluate Peralta having had so much time off, but the dip in strikeouts during his brief time has taken away from his potential dominance. As you can see, the starters haven't been able to keep up the near-historic performances they displayed in 2022. While many of the numbers are still solid or respectable, the dip impacts the outcomes of games. Especially, as noted earlier, when it comes to the pressure on the relievers to be almost perfect on a nightly basis. Instead of handing the bullpen a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning this year, it's more likely a 4-4 game or 4-3 where the relievers have little-to-no margin for error. As much as people (like me) complained about President of Baseball Operations David Stearns's inability to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, maybe a starting pitcher would have been more valuable. That is a moot point now. Ultimately, this is the group that has to put up or shut up. Because baseball has so many individualized aspects to it, people often forget it is a team sport where each performance and action impacts others on the club. Indeed, the offense could find a hot streak to carry the team down the stretch, or the bullpen could become a lockdown beast for a month. However, if the Brewers are going to find their way deep into October, keep an eye on the starting pitchers, as they will set the tone for everything going forward. View full article
  12. From a pure run-scoring perspective, the Brewers' offense is essentially the same as last year. In 2021, Milwaukee scored 4.56 runs/game compared to 4.55 this season. However, the run-scoring environment in MLB is tougher in 2022, so the Brewers rank eighth in runs this season versus 12th last year. You can point to various issues with the offense and the number of games they score fewer than three runs, but overall it's hard to complain about a top-10 offense in baseball. Turning to the pitching staff and many may be surprised by the mediocre numbers. The club's 3.87 team ERA is right in the middle of MLB pitching. While ERA doesn't tell the whole story, it says a lot that Milwaukee ranked third last season in ERA at 3.50 overall. For a team that's championship aspirations are built on dominating hurlers, a dip from third to 14th in ERA is devastating. Where has it gone wrong? The first thought likely turns to the bullpen, where things have seemingly been more tumultuous than usual. Devin Williams got off to a terrible start, Brent Suter was below average most of the first half, and Brad Boxberger has looked worn down for much of the last couple of months. Throw in the usual spate of injuries, the shocking trade of Josh Hader (who was already scuffling), and the predictable issues of many others, and one would believe the relievers are the main problem. Without diving into advanced statistics, the numbers say otherwise. This simple look at the bullpen basically puts them in the same range as last season. Part of it stems from manager Craig Counsell and his strategies to limit the use of his best relievers in low leverage situations. Perhaps the back end of the bullpen has been slightly less reliable this season, but it could also be that they have been put in too many tight spots to hold up. Some of that is a lack of run-scoring, but it also falls on the starting rotation to give the relievers some breathing room. Milwaukee's starters have been the more significant problem - and it's not close. Led by Cy Young hurler Corbin Burnes, the rotation was expected to be among the best in baseball once again. It hasn't gone so well. It's quite shocking to see the stats next to each other from the past two seasons. If we people told us the Brewers' starters would be a middle-of-the-pack unit in 2022, most would have felt fortunate if Milwaukee was even in the hunt for a postseason berth. The St. Louis Cardinals might be tough to catch at this point, but that doesn't mean the season's over. With a month to play and the Wild Card still easily in sight, a spot in the postseason will come down to better, more consistent starting pitching. With essentially the same rotation as last season, the drop in performance lies mainly with those returning arms and some areas they struggled in. Now, when you scroll through these five pitchers and compare their ERAs from this year to last year, keep one thing in mind: the league-wide ERA is 0.28 lower this season than it was in 2021. So as disappointing as the ERA spikes have been, the drop in production is even more dismal than the raw stats show. CORBIN BURNES - 2.84 ERA (2.43 in 2021) The reigning Cy Young is allowing the highest fly ball percentage (FB%) in his career (36.5%). Opponents also have their best hard-hit percentage against Burnes since his disastrous 2019 campaign. Putting those two pieces together has played a prominent role in Burnes' disturbing trend of giving up gopher balls. Last year, Burnes allowed seven home runs for the entire season. With a month to go, he has already given up 19 dingers in 2022. BRANDON WOODRUFF - 3.31 ERA (2.56 in 2021) Woody has been terrific since returning from injury. However, when he has struggled, it has been due to walks. Woodruff owns a 7.2% walk rate (BB%), the highest in a season since 2018 for the righty. In each of the previous three seasons, he has finished with a 6.1 BB%. Allowing more bases runners and driving up his pitch count has led to the worse ERA and throwing the fewest amount of innings per start since 2018. ERIC LAUER - 3.58 ERA (3.19 in 2021) After getting off to a Cy Young-worthy start to the season, Lauer quickly fell back to Earth and has been about the same as last year. His biggest issue, like Burnes, has been the home run ball. Among qualified pitchers in MLB, Lauer has the highest home run per nine innings rate at 1.7 HR/9. With his BB% up and his K% down from last season, the long ball has taken a greater toll and dinged his ERA even more than in 2022. ADRIAN HOUSER - 5.15 ERA (3.22 in 2021) Houser has looked the worst of the five typical starters, even before his injury and one start upon return. His 5.15 ERA this season is driven by allowing the highest percentage of line drives and fly balls since becoming a regular starter. As a pitcher who relies heavily on getting ground balls with his sinker, when opponents get more balls in the air, they tend to be hit well and cause plenty of damage. FREDDY PERALTA - 3.56 (2.81 in 2021) Fastball Freddy has only thrown 68.1 frames due to time on the IL with a strained right lat. However, it also sticks out that his strikeout percentage (K%) is easily the worst of his career. At 26.9%, his K% is five percent below his career mark. It's difficult to fairly evaluate Peralta having had so much time off, but the dip in strikeouts during his brief time has taken away from his potential dominance. As you can see, the starters haven't been able to keep up the near-historic performances they displayed in 2022. While many of the numbers are still solid or respectable, the dip impacts the outcomes of games. Especially, as noted earlier, when it comes to the pressure on the relievers to be almost perfect on a nightly basis. Instead of handing the bullpen a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning this year, it's more likely a 4-4 game or 4-3 where the relievers have little-to-no margin for error. As much as people (like me) complained about President of Baseball Operations David Stearns's inability to acquire a bat at the trade deadline, maybe a starting pitcher would have been more valuable. That is a moot point now. Ultimately, this is the group that has to put up or shut up. Because baseball has so many individualized aspects to it, people often forget it is a team sport where each performance and action impacts others on the club. Indeed, the offense could find a hot streak to carry the team down the stretch, or the bullpen could become a lockdown beast for a month. However, if the Brewers are going to find their way deep into October, keep an eye on the starting pitchers, as they will set the tone for everything going forward.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. The Brewers are clinging to a slim division lead and the Giants are trying to keep from becoming sellers as July turns to August. This four-game series has the ingredients for some potentially pivotal mid-season theatrics. It was around this time last year when cognitive dissonance began to leave baseball consciousness and people became willing to accept that, yes, the San Francisco Giants were legitimately good. It wasn’t until the last game of the season was finished that anyone could have predicted that they were 107-wins good, better-than-the-Dodgers good. The magic they captured last season hasn’t exactly replicated itself in 2022, and at present, being only two games over .500 has them hovering in the uncomfortable chasm between being buyers or sellers. What will the upcoming four-game series against the unpredictable Brewers do to put them more solidly in one of those categories? Let’s check out the match-ups. Thursday July 14th Corbin Burnes (7-4 2.20 ERA) Carlos Rodon (8-5 2.70 ERA) If there is one game to watch in this series, it’s this one. Two bonafide aces locking horns. At this point associating Corbin Burnes with excellence is needlessly redundant. A sub-three FIP is good enough to keep any team in any game, even one where the Brewers have to contend with the likes of Carlos Rodon. Speaking of Rodon, his path to San Francisco was forged when was non-tendered and re-signed by the White Sox last year and levied coming in fifth place in Cy Young voting into a two year $44M contract with the Giants. So far Rodon is doing everything in his power to make that contract look like a steal, and on the back of 2.70 ERA over exactly 100 IP it’s easy to make the case that he has. Friday July 15th Brandon Woodruff (7-3 4.01 ERA) Alex Wood (6-7 4.43 ERA) While the Giants sport the AL’s fifth place Cy Young pitcher in their rotation, the Brewers have the same for the NL in theirs. While you meditate on what type of payday Brandon Woodruff may be headed for, it’s worth looking at what he’s done with this season, particularly since returning from the IL. In his last start he gave up six hits in as many innings but no runs, and impressively 8 K’s. Alex Wood has been serviceable enough in his second year in a Giants uniform, with an ERA pretty much exactly at league average. With FIP at 3.26 it’s evident that Wood isn’t doing as good of a job of fooling pitchers as his history would suggest. Control has been a strong point for Wood, giving up a solid 2.2 bb/9, but his diminished velocity is allowing for a lot of pop off his bat. If the Brewers can exhibit patience, they can probably work Wood for a short outing and let Woodruff and the pen take care of the rest. Saturday July 16th Eric Lauer (6-3 3.83 ERA) Alex Cobb (3-4 4.57 ERA) If you squint hard enough you can make the case Eric Lauer is showing hints of his early season form. Despite having difficulty keeping runners off base, Lauer staved off the longball that’s been haunting him this season and struck out seven in a no-decision. Additionally, In the start prior, he struck out nine Cubs. The Giants are a better hitting team and will give better insight into where Lauer is truly at. Alex Cobb’s season started optimistically but has withered as the season has stretched on, despite occasional flashes of brilliance. Similar to his rotation-mate Wood, Cobb’s FIP is nearly a full point below the ERA, signifying that he’s simply just giving up a lot of hits. Cobb can’t be blamed for pitching for a team that is 26th in the rankings for errors committed, but the formula doesn’t portend particularly good things for Cobb’s pitching style. Sunday July 17th Jason Alexander (2-1 4.73 ERA) Logan Webb (8-3 2.82 ERA) The mystique of Jason Alexander has dissipated after a decent start. In his last start, Alexander worked for four innings, gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. This slog of a start actually belie his peripherals optimistically, which would suggest far worse numbers if extrapolated out to a standard start. This isn’t the type of thing anyone wishes on a player who has worked hard enough to get to the majors, but the numbers simply aren’t sustainable; particularly for a team that is in a tight playoff race. Joining Rodon in the egregious All-Star snub department is young righty Logan Webb. Snubs seem to be an ongoing part of Webb’s story. He netted zero Cy Young votes last year, despite the fact that his breakout was a major reason for the Giants success. Where Webb finds his success is in his craftiness. Without the kind of velocity he can just blow by hitters, he expertly moves the ball around the strike zone keeping batters guessing. The FIP on Webb is 3.01, corroborating how genuinely excellent he is. Players To Watch Webb - For all the reasons I mentioned above, but more specifically because (hot take alert) I think watching Webb is watching a multiple Cy Young award winner in his nascent stage. He’s already excellent, and he’s young enough that he has the chance to get significantly better. He presently leads the team in WAR with Rodon a tick behind. After that it’s a steep drop. Brandon Crawford - Not for his game play, which is a world away from what it was just last season. Watch Crawford because you have the chance to take in the slick fielding skills of the last vestiges of one of the most fun dynasties in sports in my entire lifetime. Posey, Lincecum, Cain and Pence are all enjoying retirement, but Crawford is still worth a sentimental watch. Josh Hader - It’s hard to imagine the surgical Hader in another uniform, but it’s almost harder to imagine a smaller market team investing a huge amount of money in a closer when they are already anchored by a brutal Christian Yelich contract and more expense forthcoming with Woody and Burnes going deeper into arbitration. Is it possible that Hader’s time in Cream City is coming to an end? It’s actually a possibility. Predictions This is a difficult series to predict in a way, namely because despite the disparate records, these two teams feel fairly evenly matched. The Brewers enjoy the luxury of one of the weakest divisions in baseball, and sometimes feel outmatched even against objectively mediocre teams. As unsatisfying as it is I suppose the safest bet is a split. View full article
  18. It was around this time last year when cognitive dissonance began to leave baseball consciousness and people became willing to accept that, yes, the San Francisco Giants were legitimately good. It wasn’t until the last game of the season was finished that anyone could have predicted that they were 107-wins good, better-than-the-Dodgers good. The magic they captured last season hasn’t exactly replicated itself in 2022, and at present, being only two games over .500 has them hovering in the uncomfortable chasm between being buyers or sellers. What will the upcoming four-game series against the unpredictable Brewers do to put them more solidly in one of those categories? Let’s check out the match-ups. Thursday July 14th Corbin Burnes (7-4 2.20 ERA) Carlos Rodon (8-5 2.70 ERA) If there is one game to watch in this series, it’s this one. Two bonafide aces locking horns. At this point associating Corbin Burnes with excellence is needlessly redundant. A sub-three FIP is good enough to keep any team in any game, even one where the Brewers have to contend with the likes of Carlos Rodon. Speaking of Rodon, his path to San Francisco was forged when was non-tendered and re-signed by the White Sox last year and levied coming in fifth place in Cy Young voting into a two year $44M contract with the Giants. So far Rodon is doing everything in his power to make that contract look like a steal, and on the back of 2.70 ERA over exactly 100 IP it’s easy to make the case that he has. Friday July 15th Brandon Woodruff (7-3 4.01 ERA) Alex Wood (6-7 4.43 ERA) While the Giants sport the AL’s fifth place Cy Young pitcher in their rotation, the Brewers have the same for the NL in theirs. While you meditate on what type of payday Brandon Woodruff may be headed for, it’s worth looking at what he’s done with this season, particularly since returning from the IL. In his last start he gave up six hits in as many innings but no runs, and impressively 8 K’s. Alex Wood has been serviceable enough in his second year in a Giants uniform, with an ERA pretty much exactly at league average. With FIP at 3.26 it’s evident that Wood isn’t doing as good of a job of fooling pitchers as his history would suggest. Control has been a strong point for Wood, giving up a solid 2.2 bb/9, but his diminished velocity is allowing for a lot of pop off his bat. If the Brewers can exhibit patience, they can probably work Wood for a short outing and let Woodruff and the pen take care of the rest. Saturday July 16th Eric Lauer (6-3 3.83 ERA) Alex Cobb (3-4 4.57 ERA) If you squint hard enough you can make the case Eric Lauer is showing hints of his early season form. Despite having difficulty keeping runners off base, Lauer staved off the longball that’s been haunting him this season and struck out seven in a no-decision. Additionally, In the start prior, he struck out nine Cubs. The Giants are a better hitting team and will give better insight into where Lauer is truly at. Alex Cobb’s season started optimistically but has withered as the season has stretched on, despite occasional flashes of brilliance. Similar to his rotation-mate Wood, Cobb’s FIP is nearly a full point below the ERA, signifying that he’s simply just giving up a lot of hits. Cobb can’t be blamed for pitching for a team that is 26th in the rankings for errors committed, but the formula doesn’t portend particularly good things for Cobb’s pitching style. Sunday July 17th Jason Alexander (2-1 4.73 ERA) Logan Webb (8-3 2.82 ERA) The mystique of Jason Alexander has dissipated after a decent start. In his last start, Alexander worked for four innings, gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. This slog of a start actually belie his peripherals optimistically, which would suggest far worse numbers if extrapolated out to a standard start. This isn’t the type of thing anyone wishes on a player who has worked hard enough to get to the majors, but the numbers simply aren’t sustainable; particularly for a team that is in a tight playoff race. Joining Rodon in the egregious All-Star snub department is young righty Logan Webb. Snubs seem to be an ongoing part of Webb’s story. He netted zero Cy Young votes last year, despite the fact that his breakout was a major reason for the Giants success. Where Webb finds his success is in his craftiness. Without the kind of velocity he can just blow by hitters, he expertly moves the ball around the strike zone keeping batters guessing. The FIP on Webb is 3.01, corroborating how genuinely excellent he is. Players To Watch Webb - For all the reasons I mentioned above, but more specifically because (hot take alert) I think watching Webb is watching a multiple Cy Young award winner in his nascent stage. He’s already excellent, and he’s young enough that he has the chance to get significantly better. He presently leads the team in WAR with Rodon a tick behind. After that it’s a steep drop. Brandon Crawford - Not for his game play, which is a world away from what it was just last season. Watch Crawford because you have the chance to take in the slick fielding skills of the last vestiges of one of the most fun dynasties in sports in my entire lifetime. Posey, Lincecum, Cain and Pence are all enjoying retirement, but Crawford is still worth a sentimental watch. Josh Hader - It’s hard to imagine the surgical Hader in another uniform, but it’s almost harder to imagine a smaller market team investing a huge amount of money in a closer when they are already anchored by a brutal Christian Yelich contract and more expense forthcoming with Woody and Burnes going deeper into arbitration. Is it possible that Hader’s time in Cream City is coming to an end? It’s actually a possibility. Predictions This is a difficult series to predict in a way, namely because despite the disparate records, these two teams feel fairly evenly matched. The Brewers enjoy the luxury of one of the weakest divisions in baseball, and sometimes feel outmatched even against objectively mediocre teams. As unsatisfying as it is I suppose the safest bet is a split.
  19. The rollercoaster continues for Milwaukee who seem to consistently develop momentum going into series with mediocre or bad teams only to see them as lost or split campaigns. That frustrating reality has been the case for the previous two series: they split against the Pirates and the Cubs managed to win two of three. Leapfrogging the Cubs series, Milwaukee once more faces the all-too-familiar Bucs in a three game home series that is sandwiched by days off. Can the Crew seize on the opportunity to feast on a statistically lesser team, or is their time atop the NL Central in peril? Let’s check out the match-ups. Friday July 8th JT Brubaker (2-7 4.28 ERA) Aaron Ashby (1-6 4.60 ERA) Brubaker was the victor over the Brewers in his last start, but it was more of a product of Brewers mediocrity than Pirates excellence. Giving up four runs in six innings should ostensibly be something the run-preventing Brewers can turn into a win, but alas the plucky Pirates got to Brent Suter and snagged the W. Ashby has been a frustrating watch as of late. As if it were written, his hype picked up just in time for the implosion to begin. His ability to pitch late into a game has diminished, collecting 12.2 innings while surrendering 14 runs over that time. The still promising young pitcher is clearly not a DFA candidate, but it’s inarguable that those numbers are not sustainable for a rotation in pursuit of the postseason. Saturday July 9th Zach Thompson (3-6 4.42 ERA) Brandon Woodruff (7-3 3.95 ERA) Zach Thompson is merely a service arm for the Pirates. At 29 years old it seems unlikely that there is some measure of transcendence he is likely to achieve other than being a middling starter in the majors, which is still a freakish measure of talent by general human standards. Still, Thompson has been sharp enough as of late, not going deep into games but not surrendering a ton of runs either. There have been few things more relieving for fans of Brewers baseball than to see Brandon Woodruff returning from the IL and pitching like the ace he’d established himself to be. It’s a small but dominant window, and the Pirates are as good a team as any to see it continue. Sunday July 10th Jose Quintana (2-4 3.33 ERA) Eric Lauer (3.84 ERA) On a one-year $2M contract, the 33-year-old Quintana was quite possibly the best value signing of the offseason. In his most recent start the veteran lefty pitched five solid innings against the behemoth Yankees. What was already a strong trade stock became all the richer, and it feels quite possible that he may not even be in a Pirates uniform come Sunday. Lauer returned to form in his last start against the Cubs, fanning nine and giving up only one run. That run was, fittingly, a home run for the 1.8/9 HR having Lauer, who enjoyed a tempering of some alarming trends in his performance as of late. Players To Watch Jack Suwinski : The numbers aren’t eye-popping but considering that the production we’re talking about is coming from a 23-year-old rookie, it’s worth keeping an eye on a promising bat from an upstart division rival. The highlight of his young career is capping a three-home-run game with a walk off in a very Pirates-y 4-3 victory over the Giants back in June. Bryan Reynolds : One of the better players in Pittsburgh. With the Pirates creeping up on a decade without postseason relevance it will be interesting to see if their controllable but increasingly expensive players get traded at their peak value, or extended in hopes of future glory. Aaron Ashby: The decline in Ashby’s ability to stay in games has been steep enough that I feel like each of his next few starts are make-or-break for how long he stays in the rotation. If he can’t handle the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates, it may be very difficult to justify his position as a starter for the remainder of the season. Predictions I haven’t exactly been Nostradamus with my predictions so far because the Brewers haven’t exactly been predictable. Operating on logic and the Brewers rotation, I’ll say the series goes 2-1 in favor of Milwaukee.
  20. The last time the Pirates and Brewers squared off they split a four game series. With the two teams at opposite ends of the division, the Crew will look to put on a stronger show of force this time around. The rollercoaster continues for Milwaukee who seem to consistently develop momentum going into series with mediocre or bad teams only to see them as lost or split campaigns. That frustrating reality has been the case for the previous two series: they split against the Pirates and the Cubs managed to win two of three. Leapfrogging the Cubs series, Milwaukee once more faces the all-too-familiar Bucs in a three game home series that is sandwiched by days off. Can the Crew seize on the opportunity to feast on a statistically lesser team, or is their time atop the NL Central in peril? Let’s check out the match-ups. Friday July 8th JT Brubaker (2-7 4.28 ERA) Aaron Ashby (1-6 4.60 ERA) Brubaker was the victor over the Brewers in his last start, but it was more of a product of Brewers mediocrity than Pirates excellence. Giving up four runs in six innings should ostensibly be something the run-preventing Brewers can turn into a win, but alas the plucky Pirates got to Brent Suter and snagged the W. Ashby has been a frustrating watch as of late. As if it were written, his hype picked up just in time for the implosion to begin. His ability to pitch late into a game has diminished, collecting 12.2 innings while surrendering 14 runs over that time. The still promising young pitcher is clearly not a DFA candidate, but it’s inarguable that those numbers are not sustainable for a rotation in pursuit of the postseason. Saturday July 9th Zach Thompson (3-6 4.42 ERA) Brandon Woodruff (7-3 3.95 ERA) Zach Thompson is merely a service arm for the Pirates. At 29 years old it seems unlikely that there is some measure of transcendence he is likely to achieve other than being a middling starter in the majors, which is still a freakish measure of talent by general human standards. Still, Thompson has been sharp enough as of late, not going deep into games but not surrendering a ton of runs either. There have been few things more relieving for fans of Brewers baseball than to see Brandon Woodruff returning from the IL and pitching like the ace he’d established himself to be. It’s a small but dominant window, and the Pirates are as good a team as any to see it continue. Sunday July 10th Jose Quintana (2-4 3.33 ERA) Eric Lauer (3.84 ERA) On a one-year $2M contract, the 33-year-old Quintana was quite possibly the best value signing of the offseason. In his most recent start the veteran lefty pitched five solid innings against the behemoth Yankees. What was already a strong trade stock became all the richer, and it feels quite possible that he may not even be in a Pirates uniform come Sunday. Lauer returned to form in his last start against the Cubs, fanning nine and giving up only one run. That run was, fittingly, a home run for the 1.8/9 HR having Lauer, who enjoyed a tempering of some alarming trends in his performance as of late. Players To Watch Jack Suwinski : The numbers aren’t eye-popping but considering that the production we’re talking about is coming from a 23-year-old rookie, it’s worth keeping an eye on a promising bat from an upstart division rival. The highlight of his young career is capping a three-home-run game with a walk off in a very Pirates-y 4-3 victory over the Giants back in June. Bryan Reynolds : One of the better players in Pittsburgh. With the Pirates creeping up on a decade without postseason relevance it will be interesting to see if their controllable but increasingly expensive players get traded at their peak value, or extended in hopes of future glory. Aaron Ashby: The decline in Ashby’s ability to stay in games has been steep enough that I feel like each of his next few starts are make-or-break for how long he stays in the rotation. If he can’t handle the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates, it may be very difficult to justify his position as a starter for the remainder of the season. Predictions I haven’t exactly been Nostradamus with my predictions so far because the Brewers haven’t exactly been predictable. Operating on logic and the Brewers rotation, I’ll say the series goes 2-1 in favor of Milwaukee. View full article
  21. The Brewers headed to Florida for a short two-game series against the tough Tampa Bay Rays. Brandon Woodruff returned to boost the Brewers rotation, and Kolten Wong also returned from the IL after a three week stint to help the Crew take on the Rays. Game 1 -- Brewers 5, Rays 3 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA202206280.shtml Brandon Woodruff returned from the IL and the Brewers threw him into action against the Rays, with manager Craig Counsell telling reporters pre-game that Woodruff would be on a 75-80 pitch limit. Woodruff was brilliant in his return from the one month layoff, striking out ten, allowing just one run on two hits. Woodruff hit 99 on the radar a handful of times, and looked sharp right from the get-go, striking out seven of the first nine batters he faced, going through the first three innings in order. In the fourth inning, Woodruff gave up a double and an RBI single, but didn't allow another runner through the remainder of his start. The 99-mph cheddar he threw past Brett Phillips to strike out the side had to be the highlight of his night. A healthy, dealing Woodruff is a huge boost to the Brewers rotation, obviously. While Woodruff's early season numbers look fairly pedestrian, most of his peripheral numbers are right in line with last years near-Cy Young numbers. If last night's stellar outing is any indication, maybe now the Brewers will get the results to go along with the performance the rest of the way. Only time will tell, but the Brewers are a better team with Woodruff than without. All that aside, the Brewers entered the sixth inning down 1-0, and looked to make Woody's fantastic return all for naught. With two down and a man on second base, Andrew McCutchen continued his hot hitting. The Brewers tacked on two more in the inning with an no doubt shot from Luis Urias . In the eighth inning, Urias added an RBI double to make it 5-1 Brewers. Things got a little bit interesting in the bottom of the frame when Counsell brought in starter Jason Alexander to get some work, and he walked the first two batters, gave up a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to allow the Rays to pull within two. Devin Williams came in to finish out the inning, but using a starter, and a rookie at that to work the eighth inning is an interesting strategy, and one that almost backfired on Counsell. To be sure, he doesn't want to overuse Williams, but in the end, he ended up using him anyways. Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth to notch his 23rd save. Woodruff secured the win thanks to the Brewers big rally in the sixth, and bumps his record on the season to 6-3. The Brewers roll into Wednesday looking for the sweep in the two game set. Game 2 -- Brewers 5, Rays 3 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401355365 Brewers starter Eric Lauer struggled once again, lasting just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks, while throwing 92 pitches over his start today. While he did allow just three runs, Lauer worked in and out of trouble the entire time, and struggled to find the zone, while his E.R.A bumped up over 4.00 for the season now. Lauer's day might have been worse if not for this catch by Jonathan Davis. Rowdy Tellez homered in the second, a solo home run to put the Brewers up 1-0. Down 2-1 in the fifth inning, Urias hit his second homerun in as many days. The Rays tied it back up in the fifth, but solo home runs by Tellez in the eighth and super utility man Jace Peterson in the ninth inning put the Crew back up 5-3. Tellez's second two-homer game in a week has him now at fifteen on the season and brought his OPS up to a solid .818 nearing the halfway point. The catwalk home runs make the Trop interesting, if not aesthetically pleasing. Hader allowed a few baserunners in the ninth, but ultimately locked down save number 24, and the Brewers get the short series sweep in Tampa. Brad Boxberger picked up the win with an inning of scoreless relief, moving his record to 2-1. The bullpen did a nice job overall today, with Jandel Gustave, Hoby Milner , Boxberger, Williams, and Hader combining for 4 2/3 scoreless innings of one hit ball in relief of Lauer. Next up, The Brewers, Tellez, and his home run road show travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates in a 4-game set at PNC Park. Hopefully we'll get to see a few river shots, but barring that, a few Brew Crew wins. View full article
  22. Game 1 -- Brewers 5, Rays 3 https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA202206280.shtml Brandon Woodruff returned from the IL and the Brewers threw him into action against the Rays, with manager Craig Counsell telling reporters pre-game that Woodruff would be on a 75-80 pitch limit. Woodruff was brilliant in his return from the one month layoff, striking out ten, allowing just one run on two hits. Woodruff hit 99 on the radar a handful of times, and looked sharp right from the get-go, striking out seven of the first nine batters he faced, going through the first three innings in order. In the fourth inning, Woodruff gave up a double and an RBI single, but didn't allow another runner through the remainder of his start. The 99-mph cheddar he threw past Brett Phillips to strike out the side had to be the highlight of his night. A healthy, dealing Woodruff is a huge boost to the Brewers rotation, obviously. While Woodruff's early season numbers look fairly pedestrian, most of his peripheral numbers are right in line with last years near-Cy Young numbers. If last night's stellar outing is any indication, maybe now the Brewers will get the results to go along with the performance the rest of the way. Only time will tell, but the Brewers are a better team with Woodruff than without. All that aside, the Brewers entered the sixth inning down 1-0, and looked to make Woody's fantastic return all for naught. With two down and a man on second base, Andrew McCutchen continued his hot hitting. The Brewers tacked on two more in the inning with an no doubt shot from Luis Urias . In the eighth inning, Urias added an RBI double to make it 5-1 Brewers. Things got a little bit interesting in the bottom of the frame when Counsell brought in starter Jason Alexander to get some work, and he walked the first two batters, gave up a sacrifice fly and an RBI single to allow the Rays to pull within two. Devin Williams came in to finish out the inning, but using a starter, and a rookie at that to work the eighth inning is an interesting strategy, and one that almost backfired on Counsell. To be sure, he doesn't want to overuse Williams, but in the end, he ended up using him anyways. Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth to notch his 23rd save. Woodruff secured the win thanks to the Brewers big rally in the sixth, and bumps his record on the season to 6-3. The Brewers roll into Wednesday looking for the sweep in the two game set. Game 2 -- Brewers 5, Rays 3 https://www.espn.com/mlb/boxscore/_/gameId/401355365 Brewers starter Eric Lauer struggled once again, lasting just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks, while throwing 92 pitches over his start today. While he did allow just three runs, Lauer worked in and out of trouble the entire time, and struggled to find the zone, while his E.R.A bumped up over 4.00 for the season now. Lauer's day might have been worse if not for this catch by Jonathan Davis. Rowdy Tellez homered in the second, a solo home run to put the Brewers up 1-0. Down 2-1 in the fifth inning, Urias hit his second homerun in as many days. The Rays tied it back up in the fifth, but solo home runs by Tellez in the eighth and super utility man Jace Peterson in the ninth inning put the Crew back up 5-3. Tellez's second two-homer game in a week has him now at fifteen on the season and brought his OPS up to a solid .818 nearing the halfway point. The catwalk home runs make the Trop interesting, if not aesthetically pleasing. Hader allowed a few baserunners in the ninth, but ultimately locked down save number 24, and the Brewers get the short series sweep in Tampa. Brad Boxberger picked up the win with an inning of scoreless relief, moving his record to 2-1. The bullpen did a nice job overall today, with Jandel Gustave, Hoby Milner , Boxberger, Williams, and Hader combining for 4 2/3 scoreless innings of one hit ball in relief of Lauer. Next up, The Brewers, Tellez, and his home run road show travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates in a 4-game set at PNC Park. Hopefully we'll get to see a few river shots, but barring that, a few Brew Crew wins.
  23. Milwaukee's stock is ticking back up, and a series win over a stacked Blue Jays team bodes well since they face the team below Toronto in their same division. Other than another rocky Adrian Houser start, the Brewers hovered between competent and masterful on both sides of the plate and enjoyed a day off before the brief series in Florida is set to begin. Facing the Rays for the first time since 2017 is only one of many hard-to-predict characteristics of a series marked by returns from injuries and recently recalled top prospects. The enigmatic Rays don’t quite have the luster of years past. For a team who has spent recent years solidifying themselves as a thorn in the side for AL East leviathans in Boston and New York, being merely eight games above .500 is good for second to last place entering play on June 28th. But the mystique still can’t be wholly ignored. While fourth place doesn’t look like much, they do still stand 70.2% chance of making the new expanded playoffs compared to Milwaukee’s 51.7%. Does the Crew have what it takes to improve their odds in this brief series? Let’s look at the match-ups. Tuesday June 28th Brandon Woodruff (5-3 4.74 ERA) TBD As of 7:00 on Monday, the Rays had yet to announce their starter, but Brewers fans will be heartened to see the likes of Brandon Woodruff returning to the mound. For what it’s worth, Woodruff was sharp in his rehab start against Quad Cities River Bandits, retiring the first 12 batters in a row. Brewers fans will be hoping this portends further dominance in Tampa Bay. Wednesday June 29th Eric Lauer (6-3 3.89 ERA) Shane Baz (0-1 4.51 ERA) The Wednesday match-up feels consequential. The focus on Eric Lauer has diminished a little bit after a few rough starts, but he’s been serviceable for the Crew to this point and is a reliable arm that can keep them in the game. The weakest spot for Lauer has been the longball with a frightening 1.9 HR/9, but the Rays are tied with the Reds for the fewest home runs in all of baseball. Meanwhile, Shane Baz is an exciting young arm. I included a brief description for him below, but the concise version of it is that he’s got a blistering fastball and has figured out the release point well. He can live on the paint and free swinging dominate hitters. Players To Watch Shane Baz: A viral quote in the world of baseball geekdom is from Sam Miller, who famously tweeted "LOVE this trade for the Rays. Who'd they give up? And who'd they get?" In this case, Baz was one of many high value grabs in the now famously one-sided trade that sent Chris Archer from Tampa Bay to the Pirates. Before the start of the season he was ranked as the eighth overall prospect in baseball, building that prestige on the back of an elite fastball and profile that looks nearly identical to another former Pirate, Gerrit Cole . Brandon Woodruff: It’s been an uncharacteristically unremarkable campaign for Woody. Between a sprained ankle in May and the recent diagnosis of Raynaud’s syndrome, fans hope to be able to point the finger at temporary or treatable ailments as the reason the two time All-Star looks flat compared to the pitcher who placed fifth in Cy Young voting just last year. Hoby Milner : Because why not? The lanky lefty is having one of those charismatic dream seasons where at 31 he’s seemed to have found something that works. In what is already maybe the most fun bullpen in the league, Milner serves as a delightfully dominant cherry on top. Predictions Facing the Rays is already a difficult proposition, but doing so on their turf with so many question marks, and against a team that is 10-1 in interleague play so far this season just doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. If the Crew can muster a split, they should be happy.
  24. The Brewers follow a day off with a brief getaway series against the Rays, who sit fourth in what is shaping up to be the toughest division in baseball. Milwaukee's stock is ticking back up, and a series win over a stacked Blue Jays team bodes well since they face the team below Toronto in their same division. Other than another rocky Adrian Houser start, the Brewers hovered between competent and masterful on both sides of the plate and enjoyed a day off before the brief series in Florida is set to begin. Facing the Rays for the first time since 2017 is only one of many hard-to-predict characteristics of a series marked by returns from injuries and recently recalled top prospects. The enigmatic Rays don’t quite have the luster of years past. For a team who has spent recent years solidifying themselves as a thorn in the side for AL East leviathans in Boston and New York, being merely eight games above .500 is good for second to last place entering play on June 28th. But the mystique still can’t be wholly ignored. While fourth place doesn’t look like much, they do still stand 70.2% chance of making the new expanded playoffs compared to Milwaukee’s 51.7%. Does the Crew have what it takes to improve their odds in this brief series? Let’s look at the match-ups. Tuesday June 28th Brandon Woodruff (5-3 4.74 ERA) TBD As of 7:00 on Monday, the Rays had yet to announce their starter, but Brewers fans will be heartened to see the likes of Brandon Woodruff returning to the mound. For what it’s worth, Woodruff was sharp in his rehab start against Quad Cities River Bandits, retiring the first 12 batters in a row. Brewers fans will be hoping this portends further dominance in Tampa Bay. Wednesday June 29th Eric Lauer (6-3 3.89 ERA) Shane Baz (0-1 4.51 ERA) The Wednesday match-up feels consequential. The focus on Eric Lauer has diminished a little bit after a few rough starts, but he’s been serviceable for the Crew to this point and is a reliable arm that can keep them in the game. The weakest spot for Lauer has been the longball with a frightening 1.9 HR/9, but the Rays are tied with the Reds for the fewest home runs in all of baseball. Meanwhile, Shane Baz is an exciting young arm. I included a brief description for him below, but the concise version of it is that he’s got a blistering fastball and has figured out the release point well. He can live on the paint and free swinging dominate hitters. Players To Watch Shane Baz: A viral quote in the world of baseball geekdom is from Sam Miller, who famously tweeted "LOVE this trade for the Rays. Who'd they give up? And who'd they get?" In this case, Baz was one of many high value grabs in the now famously one-sided trade that sent Chris Archer from Tampa Bay to the Pirates. Before the start of the season he was ranked as the eighth overall prospect in baseball, building that prestige on the back of an elite fastball and profile that looks nearly identical to another former Pirate, Gerrit Cole . Brandon Woodruff: It’s been an uncharacteristically unremarkable campaign for Woody. Between a sprained ankle in May and the recent diagnosis of Raynaud’s syndrome, fans hope to be able to point the finger at temporary or treatable ailments as the reason the two time All-Star looks flat compared to the pitcher who placed fifth in Cy Young voting just last year. Hoby Milner : Because why not? The lanky lefty is having one of those charismatic dream seasons where at 31 he’s seemed to have found something that works. In what is already maybe the most fun bullpen in the league, Milner serves as a delightfully dominant cherry on top. Predictions Facing the Rays is already a difficult proposition, but doing so on their turf with so many question marks, and against a team that is 10-1 in interleague play so far this season just doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. If the Crew can muster a split, they should be happy. View full article
  25. With Aaron Ashby landing on the IR and Woodruff still a little ways out, the Brewers only have four starting pitchers on the roster. Chi Chi Gonzalez will likely make that five on Tuesday. It would be a good bet the Brewers start Chi Chi Gonzalez on Tuesday, with Aaron Ashby landing on the injured list with left forearm inflammation and Brandon Woodruff still recovering from a right ankle sprain and a bout with hand numbness related to Raynaud’s Syndrome. Woodruff is making his second rehab assignment game on Tuesday following his impressive 51 pitch, 2.2 inning outing where he struck out seven of the eight outs recorded, allowing just one earned run on one hit and a walk. With another rehab outing scheduled, Woodruff will likely be at least a week away, leaving only four healthy starters on the Brewers current active roster: Adrian Houser, Corbin Burnes, Eric Lauer, and Jason Alexander. Aaron Ashby was expected to start for the Brewers on Tuesday, but by landing on the IR, that won’t happen. Eric Lauer is slated to go on Wednesday, and Jason Alexander going on Thursday for the Crew, I think Chi Chi will take Tuesday. Lauer last pitched on the 17th of June, going 6.1 innings, striking out five and four earned runs off three home runs in the Brewers’ 5-4 win over Cincinnati. If he were to be moved up in the rotation to pitch on Tuesday, he would only have four days rest, which he has done twice this season, but only following shorter starts, so I don’t expect him to go. Gonazalez remains the likely option, as he has started 49 games in his six year MLB career, including making two starts this year with the Minnesota Twins, from whom the Brewers claimed him on June 14th. He has also made eight appearances with five of those being starts for the Twins Triple-A ball club. With the Twins, he allowed six runs in seven innings to a 7.71 ERA, but was markedly better in AAA, only allowing 16 runs in 36.2 innings to a 3.44 ERA. His career numbers are much worse than Jason Alexander’s, who has come onto the scene with the Crew this year and cemented his spot somewhere on the active roster, but Gonzalez could serve as a stopgap while injuries are healed, much as he did with the Twins. I don’t expect anything more than four innings for the 6-3 right hander, with the bullpen used to fill in the rest. Chi Chi Gonzalez uses a 4-seam fastball, sinker, slider and changeup to record his outs in the majors this year, but has used a curveball and cutter sparingly as recently as last year. With only two games under his belt this year in the majors, we might see some of those as well. His 4-seamer and sinker are almost identical, just varying in usage, as the 4-seamer is used on southpaws and the sinker used on righties. They each sit around 92 MPH, but the sinker will drop a little more and move in on right handers significantly, making me think it is more of a 2-seamer than a sinker. Neither of them miss the bats too well though, with a batting average of 0.333 on his 4-seamer, and 0.714 on his sinker. His off-speed fares much better, as his 84 MPH slider and 86 MPH changeup allowing a batting average of 0.250 and 0.286, respectively. His slider is most often used against righties this year, but usually has usage pretty even regardless of handedness. His changeup, however, has been used primarily against right-handed batters and has been very successful. The defense will be busy, as Chi Chi mostly plays to contact and doesn’t blow people away to strike them out, striking out only 13.4% of batters in his career. He walks even less, at a rate of 9.4% in his career, so limiting hard hit balls will be the most important and recording those ground ball outs when the defense can. View full article
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