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  1. Even if the Milwaukee Brewers slipped into the playoffs, most would see 2022 as a disappointment unless they made a miraculous run to the NLCS (at least). Either way, there are a handful of free agent decisions the front office needs to make for next season. Image courtesy of © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports A vast majority of Brewers are under team control in 2023. Eighteen players are in their arbitration years, with a number in pre-arbitration. David Stearns, President of Baseball Operations, could decide to cut ties with any of those guys, but most are staying put. Stearns and GM Matt Arnold have tremendous flexibility with the roster, though, as only three players have guaranteed contracts in 2023: Christian Yelich, Freddy Peralta, and Aaron Ashby. So some critical decisions will need to be made when dealing with the Brewers' potential free agents. Four players, in particular, provide some choice from the club to determine if they offer more value to Milwaukee versus what is available on the market. With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, his performance this season doesn't warrant a discussion about his return. It hasn't worked out. With Cutch off the list, here are four potential free agents who may or may not return to Milwaukee. 4 - Jace Peterson The 32-year-old utility man has been the third-most valuable position player for the Brewers with a 2.2 fWAR. Part of that stems from Milwaukee's lack of star power in the lineup. However, despite sporadic playing time, his value also comes in quality defense in multiple spots and an ability to get on base at a solid clip. Peterson is the type of veteran player you find on winning teams. These types might not jump out at you statistically, but their importance is seen throughout the season. There will be multiple factors in choosing to bring Peterson back or not. What do the Brewers plan to do at second and third base? Will prospect Brice Turang have a major role in the big leagues in 2023? The third factor is cost. Peterson made $1.825 million on a one-year deal this season. He will undoubtedly get a bump up, but how much? Fangraphs' defensive metric ranks Peterson fourth on the club in that area, and its BsR stat for overall base running has him at the top in Milwaukee. Odds of a return: 65% 3 - Brad Boxberger Based on ERA (2.95) and ERA+ (135), Brad Boxberger is having a better overall season than he did in 2021. It might not feel that way as he has more blown saves this year, and many of his other numbers are worse. While he's giving up fewer home runs per nine innings, his WHIP is 1.309 (1.067 in 2022), with more walks, more hits, and fewer strikeouts this season. One major concern should be Boxberger's Whiff% where he went from the 85th percentile of MLB last season to the 33rd percentile in 2022. At 34 years old, you start to wonder what he has left in the tank. In each of the past two seasons, Boxberger has stretches when he looks cooked. Manager Craig Counsell relies on him as a stopper of sorts and utilizes him in a variety of innings - more so than any other reliever on the club. Boxberger is making $2.5 million this season, with a team option for a $3 million contract in 2023. The buyout for the option is just $750,000, so Milwaukee loses little to cut bait. Considering the sizable free agent reliever market each season, a $3 million tag for a potentially declining bullpen arm makes Boxberger less appealing than a year ago. But they could see the cost certainty of the club option as worthwhile gamble for one more season. Odds of a return: 48% (Chances increase if the Brewers buy him out and he is willing to re-sign for less) 2 - Omar Narvaez After an All-Star selection in 2021, Narvaez's 2022 offensive performance has dipped significantly. He is 22% below average in OPS+ (78) while hitting just .214 with a .324 slugging percentage. He clearly peaked in his age-27 season in Seattle when he slugged .460 with a 119 OPS+. Narvaez turns 31 before Opening Day 2023 and has appeared worn down in the second half of the last two years. Narvaez came over as an "offense-first" backstop with defensive concerns, but that has flipped in Milwaukee (or has it?). He ranks seventh in MLB in Baseball Savant's strike rate stat at 49.7%, which shows the percentage of non-swinging strikes called on the outside edges of the strike zone. However, Narvaez is 47th in "blocking runs," according to Baseball Prospectus. If you've watched enough games, you have witnessed Narvaez's struggle to block balls consistently. He is also 35th in caught stealing percentage (24%) among catchers with 300+ frames behind the plate. Those last two statistics argue against his supposed defensive prowess. Narvaez is making $5 million this season. Considering the constant need for catching, some team is likely willing to pay more on the free agent market. Milwaukee has 29-year-old catchers Victor Caratini and Pedro Severino under team control for next year at a lower cost. They also have prospect Mario Feliciano ready for MLB opportunities. The price per production for Narvaez looks undesirable. Odds of a return: 15% 1 - Taylor Rogers The left-handed reliever acquired in the Josh Hader trade has had a down year. After never posting an ERA+ below 128 from 2017-2021 (not counting 2020), Rogers' 86 ERA+ could be a sign of declining skill. He has also dealt with some minor injury concerns, so perhaps it's a one-off dip this season. Many of his numbers improved during his short time in Milwaukee, upping his strikeout-per-nine-inning (K/9) rate to 14.5 versus 10.5 with the San Diego Padres. His WHIP has also dropped from 1.113 to 1.091. The soon-to-be 32-year-old southpaw reliever is earning $7.3 million this season and will likely get a fair amount of interest in free agency. Though he got off to a rough start with the Brewers, Rogers owns a 3.07 ERA and has held opponents to a .180 average over his last 14.2 innings pitched. For a bullpen that needs help heading into 2023, Rogers should be in play to stay, but the length and size of the contract demands could be prohibitive. I'd like to see them make something work and have him spend time in their pitch lab, although it feels like a less than a 50/50 chance the Brewers pony up enough. Odds of a return: 40% Some may ask, "Why isn't Kolten Wong on this list?" Well, his situation requires further examination, so look for a more in-depth analysis soon. As for the rest of the Brew Crew, many expect plenty of roster turnover heading into 2023. Brewers fans should expect to learn new names and faces with a combination of trades and letting players go. If Milwaukee plans to ascend to the top of the NL Central again to fight it out with the St. Louis Cardinals, the front office needs to rediscover the right mix of who stays and who goes. View full article
  2. A vast majority of Brewers are under team control in 2023. Eighteen players are in their arbitration years, with a number in pre-arbitration. David Stearns, President of Baseball Operations, could decide to cut ties with any of those guys, but most are staying put. Stearns and GM Matt Arnold have tremendous flexibility with the roster, though, as only three players have guaranteed contracts in 2023: Christian Yelich, Freddy Peralta, and Aaron Ashby. So some critical decisions will need to be made when dealing with the Brewers' potential free agents. Four players, in particular, provide some choice from the club to determine if they offer more value to Milwaukee versus what is available on the market. With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, his performance this season doesn't warrant a discussion about his return. It hasn't worked out. With Cutch off the list, here are four potential free agents who may or may not return to Milwaukee. 4 - Jace Peterson The 32-year-old utility man has been the third-most valuable position player for the Brewers with a 2.2 fWAR. Part of that stems from Milwaukee's lack of star power in the lineup. However, despite sporadic playing time, his value also comes in quality defense in multiple spots and an ability to get on base at a solid clip. Peterson is the type of veteran player you find on winning teams. These types might not jump out at you statistically, but their importance is seen throughout the season. There will be multiple factors in choosing to bring Peterson back or not. What do the Brewers plan to do at second and third base? Will prospect Brice Turang have a major role in the big leagues in 2023? The third factor is cost. Peterson made $1.825 million on a one-year deal this season. He will undoubtedly get a bump up, but how much? Fangraphs' defensive metric ranks Peterson fourth on the club in that area, and its BsR stat for overall base running has him at the top in Milwaukee. Odds of a return: 65% 3 - Brad Boxberger Based on ERA (2.95) and ERA+ (135), Brad Boxberger is having a better overall season than he did in 2021. It might not feel that way as he has more blown saves this year, and many of his other numbers are worse. While he's giving up fewer home runs per nine innings, his WHIP is 1.309 (1.067 in 2022), with more walks, more hits, and fewer strikeouts this season. One major concern should be Boxberger's Whiff% where he went from the 85th percentile of MLB last season to the 33rd percentile in 2022. At 34 years old, you start to wonder what he has left in the tank. In each of the past two seasons, Boxberger has stretches when he looks cooked. Manager Craig Counsell relies on him as a stopper of sorts and utilizes him in a variety of innings - more so than any other reliever on the club. Boxberger is making $2.5 million this season, with a team option for a $3 million contract in 2023. The buyout for the option is just $750,000, so Milwaukee loses little to cut bait. Considering the sizable free agent reliever market each season, a $3 million tag for a potentially declining bullpen arm makes Boxberger less appealing than a year ago. But they could see the cost certainty of the club option as worthwhile gamble for one more season. Odds of a return: 48% (Chances increase if the Brewers buy him out and he is willing to re-sign for less) 2 - Omar Narvaez After an All-Star selection in 2021, Narvaez's 2022 offensive performance has dipped significantly. He is 22% below average in OPS+ (78) while hitting just .214 with a .324 slugging percentage. He clearly peaked in his age-27 season in Seattle when he slugged .460 with a 119 OPS+. Narvaez turns 31 before Opening Day 2023 and has appeared worn down in the second half of the last two years. Narvaez came over as an "offense-first" backstop with defensive concerns, but that has flipped in Milwaukee (or has it?). He ranks seventh in MLB in Baseball Savant's strike rate stat at 49.7%, which shows the percentage of non-swinging strikes called on the outside edges of the strike zone. However, Narvaez is 47th in "blocking runs," according to Baseball Prospectus. If you've watched enough games, you have witnessed Narvaez's struggle to block balls consistently. He is also 35th in caught stealing percentage (24%) among catchers with 300+ frames behind the plate. Those last two statistics argue against his supposed defensive prowess. Narvaez is making $5 million this season. Considering the constant need for catching, some team is likely willing to pay more on the free agent market. Milwaukee has 29-year-old catchers Victor Caratini and Pedro Severino under team control for next year at a lower cost. They also have prospect Mario Feliciano ready for MLB opportunities. The price per production for Narvaez looks undesirable. Odds of a return: 15% 1 - Taylor Rogers The left-handed reliever acquired in the Josh Hader trade has had a down year. After never posting an ERA+ below 128 from 2017-2021 (not counting 2020), Rogers' 86 ERA+ could be a sign of declining skill. He has also dealt with some minor injury concerns, so perhaps it's a one-off dip this season. Many of his numbers improved during his short time in Milwaukee, upping his strikeout-per-nine-inning (K/9) rate to 14.5 versus 10.5 with the San Diego Padres. His WHIP has also dropped from 1.113 to 1.091. The soon-to-be 32-year-old southpaw reliever is earning $7.3 million this season and will likely get a fair amount of interest in free agency. Though he got off to a rough start with the Brewers, Rogers owns a 3.07 ERA and has held opponents to a .180 average over his last 14.2 innings pitched. For a bullpen that needs help heading into 2023, Rogers should be in play to stay, but the length and size of the contract demands could be prohibitive. I'd like to see them make something work and have him spend time in their pitch lab, although it feels like a less than a 50/50 chance the Brewers pony up enough. Odds of a return: 40% Some may ask, "Why isn't Kolten Wong on this list?" Well, his situation requires further examination, so look for a more in-depth analysis soon. As for the rest of the Brew Crew, many expect plenty of roster turnover heading into 2023. Brewers fans should expect to learn new names and faces with a combination of trades and letting players go. If Milwaukee plans to ascend to the top of the NL Central again to fight it out with the St. Louis Cardinals, the front office needs to rediscover the right mix of who stays and who goes.
  3. Prior to their game yesterday the Milwaukee Brewers sent third baseman Mike Brosseau to the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Taking his place on the active roster was Pablo Reyes, who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. This season Mike Brosseau has had somewhat of a coming out party for the Brewers. He owns a 113 OPS+ across 56 games. He previously put up a 160 OPS+ with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, but that was in a shorter 36 game span. Brosseau is one off of his career high in homers during a single-season with five, and he’s right on par in both runs batted in and walks. Pablo Reyes returned to the Brewers and has now played five games this season with Milwaukee. He’s gone 4-for-15 with a walk and has yet to contribute an extra-base hit. Reyes is in his second season with Milwaukee and has impressed at Triple-A Nashville owning an .829 OPS in his age-28 season. Milwaukee did also start infielder Jace Peterson on a rehab assignment with the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Peterson last played a Major League game on July 17 and owns a career best 114 OPS+ across 80 games. The Brewers would be quite pleased to welcome him back onto the active roster in short order. View full article
  4. This season Mike Brosseau has had somewhat of a coming out party for the Brewers. He owns a 113 OPS+ across 56 games. He previously put up a 160 OPS+ with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, but that was in a shorter 36 game span. Brosseau is one off of his career high in homers during a single-season with five, and he’s right on par in both runs batted in and walks. Pablo Reyes returned to the Brewers and has now played five games this season with Milwaukee. He’s gone 4-for-15 with a walk and has yet to contribute an extra-base hit. Reyes is in his second season with Milwaukee and has impressed at Triple-A Nashville owning an .829 OPS in his age-28 season. Milwaukee did also start infielder Jace Peterson on a rehab assignment with the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Peterson last played a Major League game on July 17 and owns a career best 114 OPS+ across 80 games. The Brewers would be quite pleased to welcome him back onto the active roster in short order.
  5. The Brewers announced today they have agreed to terms to LHP Aaron Ashby, extending him through the 2027 season with team options for 2028 and 2029. Reports are coming in that only $20,500,000 is guaranteed through his free agency years with escalators and options bringing the potential amount to $46,000,000. For a pitcher with the upside of Ashby, it’s hard to view this as anything but a great deal for the Brewers with very little assumed risk by the club. Ashby has spent the 2022 season in a flex role for the Brewers, making 12 starts and 18 total appearances. While the 24-year-old's 4.57 ERA looks unimpressive, he has swing-and-miss stuff but has been held back by control issues early in his MLB career. Never considered an elite prospect, Ashby moved through the organization in a very Brewers-esque way, displaying flashes of potential before breaking out post-Covid in AAA Nashville, posting an elite 14.2 K/9 rate in the 2021 season and later earning himself a promotion to Milwaukee. In 100.2 career MLB innings pitched, Ashby has a pedestrian 4.56 ERA - which translates to a 91 ERA+ - but has a much better-looking 3.83 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which bodes well for his future. There is obviously talent in that left arm for the Brewers to develop at the major league level, now Ashby just needs to take the next step and solidify himself in the Milwaukee rotation, which will need to make some difficult decisions this offseason with Corbin Burnes and his pending free agency after the 2024 season. Peterson to the 10-Day Injured List In less-good news, the Brewers announced that Jace Peterson has been placed on the 10-Day Injured List with a left elbow strain, retroactive to July 20th. Peterson has been instrumental to the Brewers first-place status this season, playing all over the field competently while posting his best offensive season with a 115 OPS+ and and 112 wRC+. Hopefully, this is a minor setback and due to the All-Star break, Peterson may only lose a week of play before being eligible to return to the Milwaukee lineup.
  6. The Brewers locked up the young left-hander through his arbitration seasons with team options in 2028 and 2029 while utility IF Jace Peterson has been retroactively sent to the 10-Day Injured List. The Brewers announced today they have agreed to terms to LHP Aaron Ashby, extending him through the 2027 season with team options for 2028 and 2029. Reports are coming in that only $20,500,000 is guaranteed through his free agency years with escalators and options bringing the potential amount to $46,000,000. For a pitcher with the upside of Ashby, it’s hard to view this as anything but a great deal for the Brewers with very little assumed risk by the club. Ashby has spent the 2022 season in a flex role for the Brewers, making 12 starts and 18 total appearances. While the 24-year-old's 4.57 ERA looks unimpressive, he has swing-and-miss stuff but has been held back by control issues early in his MLB career. Never considered an elite prospect, Ashby moved through the organization in a very Brewers-esque way, displaying flashes of potential before breaking out post-Covid in AAA Nashville, posting an elite 14.2 K/9 rate in the 2021 season and later earning himself a promotion to Milwaukee. In 100.2 career MLB innings pitched, Ashby has a pedestrian 4.56 ERA - which translates to a 91 ERA+ - but has a much better-looking 3.83 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which bodes well for his future. There is obviously talent in that left arm for the Brewers to develop at the major league level, now Ashby just needs to take the next step and solidify himself in the Milwaukee rotation, which will need to make some difficult decisions this offseason with Corbin Burnes and his pending free agency after the 2024 season. Peterson to the 10-Day Injured List In less-good news, the Brewers announced that Jace Peterson has been placed on the 10-Day Injured List with a left elbow strain, retroactive to July 20th. Peterson has been instrumental to the Brewers first-place status this season, playing all over the field competently while posting his best offensive season with a 115 OPS+ and and 112 wRC+. Hopefully, this is a minor setback and due to the All-Star break, Peterson may only lose a week of play before being eligible to return to the Milwaukee lineup. View full article
  7. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders, outfielders and catchers grades, check out those links for previous stories earlier this week. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Jace Peterson * .252/.325/.439 * 7 OAA * Super Utility Grade: A Coming into the season, Peterson projected to be the Brewers de facto utility man. To say Peterson has passed expectations would be an understatement. Playing in 80 games and logging more than 240 plate appearances, all Peterson has done is hit, posting a 115 OPS+. His bat has been steady and consistent, but his real value comes from his defense. Tied with Adames for the team lead in OAA, Peterson has likely been the team's best defender. Seeing time at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF, he has shown fans he’s capable of performing wherever Craig Counsell has placed him. It’s hard to imagine Peterson will see the same amount of playing time post All-Star break, but if he does, he shows no signs of being anything but the pillar of consistency he’s been so far. Mike Brosseau * .287/.367/.460 * -4 OAA * Infield Grade: B+ Despite the impressive slash line, Brosseau only earns a B+. Between competition with Jace Peterson and injuries, he hasn’t seen much time on the field. There isn’t much else to note for Brosseau, as he’s only appeared in 40 games, and logged less than 100 plate appearances. Despite not seeing much time, it’s hard to complain about his bat though. He even leads the Brewers in both AVG and OBP. However his defense has been poor. Brosseau has commited 5 errors in his limited number of appearances, and his -4 OAA is less than ideal. Brosseau’s role with the team is completely up in the air. It’s hard to predict what he’d do with more playing time, or how the Brewers would give it to him. Keston Hiura * .238/.354/.451 * -1 OAA * AAA-Wisconsin Grade: B The only player to receive a grade that's currently in AAA, Hiura has quietly put together a season that's surpassed expectations. If you want to read more about his oddly productive season, do it here. Looking forward, Hiura should see more playing time. He’s been too good against right-handed pitching to not get consistent at-bats. It’s never too late for Hiura to be considered in future plans. Jonathan Davis * .237/.348/.254 * 2 OAA * Outfielder Grade: B- Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season is Davis making his way into the Brewers crowded outfield. The quick-footed center fielder has given the Brewers some quality play in the outfield while some regulars found themselves on the IL. Davis earns a B- grade largely due to his defense and bag stealing abilities, though he hasn’t been awful at the plate either. His .348 OBP is certainly valuable, although he brings little power with a SLG of just .254. There is some question whether Davis will have a role after the trade deadline, but if he does, it likely won’t come with much playing time. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below.
  8. With injuries plaguing so many regulars, bench players have been thrust into the bigger roles. Some have responded. Some, not so much. Check out our grades and see if you agree. The MLB season has reached its halfway point. With the All-Star break and the festivities taking the full front of attention, it may be time to take a break from the fun and reflect on the first half of the season. Like a teacher handing out the dreaded report card, it's time to see how the Brewers fared in half number one. If you would like to see the infielders, outfielders and catchers grades, check out those links for previous stories earlier this week. Before jumping into the grading breakdown, it's important to lay some guidelines. Grading is based on the players performance through the first 93 games of the 2022 season. Listed with the given grades is the players slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) as of July 18, and either their OAA (Outs Above Average) or percentile grades in pitch framing. The grades are also based on both the offensive and defensive value the players should have been reasonably expected to provide, and is completely subjective. The purpose of the grades are simply to reflect, and not to promote any distaste towards any certain player. Jace Peterson * .252/.325/.439 * 7 OAA * Super Utility Grade: A Coming into the season, Peterson projected to be the Brewers de facto utility man. To say Peterson has passed expectations would be an understatement. Playing in 80 games and logging more than 240 plate appearances, all Peterson has done is hit, posting a 115 OPS+. His bat has been steady and consistent, but his real value comes from his defense. Tied with Adames for the team lead in OAA, Peterson has likely been the team's best defender. Seeing time at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF, he has shown fans he’s capable of performing wherever Craig Counsell has placed him. It’s hard to imagine Peterson will see the same amount of playing time post All-Star break, but if he does, he shows no signs of being anything but the pillar of consistency he’s been so far. Mike Brosseau * .287/.367/.460 * -4 OAA * Infield Grade: B+ Despite the impressive slash line, Brosseau only earns a B+. Between competition with Jace Peterson and injuries, he hasn’t seen much time on the field. There isn’t much else to note for Brosseau, as he’s only appeared in 40 games, and logged less than 100 plate appearances. Despite not seeing much time, it’s hard to complain about his bat though. He even leads the Brewers in both AVG and OBP. However his defense has been poor. Brosseau has commited 5 errors in his limited number of appearances, and his -4 OAA is less than ideal. Brosseau’s role with the team is completely up in the air. It’s hard to predict what he’d do with more playing time, or how the Brewers would give it to him. Keston Hiura * .238/.354/.451 * -1 OAA * AAA-Wisconsin Grade: B The only player to receive a grade that's currently in AAA, Hiura has quietly put together a season that's surpassed expectations. If you want to read more about his oddly productive season, do it here. Looking forward, Hiura should see more playing time. He’s been too good against right-handed pitching to not get consistent at-bats. It’s never too late for Hiura to be considered in future plans. Jonathan Davis * .237/.348/.254 * 2 OAA * Outfielder Grade: B- Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season is Davis making his way into the Brewers crowded outfield. The quick-footed center fielder has given the Brewers some quality play in the outfield while some regulars found themselves on the IL. Davis earns a B- grade largely due to his defense and bag stealing abilities, though he hasn’t been awful at the plate either. His .348 OBP is certainly valuable, although he brings little power with a SLG of just .254. There is some question whether Davis will have a role after the trade deadline, but if he does, it likely won’t come with much playing time. Now it's your turn. Are the grades fair? Would you give extra credit or demerits to some of the players? If so, let's hear it in the comments below. View full article
  9. Game 1 -- Brewers 6, Twins 3 Box Score Game one of the series was only occasionally stalled by rain, thunder, and lightning, as the Brewers and Twins waited at times for the ground crew to pull the tarp out only to immediately take it back off the field. Three separate weather delays held the game up, but ultimately the game was able to be completed in its entirety. The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead on a two-run, opposite-field poke from Andrew McCutchen. With his early season struggles well behind him, McCutchen has put up a .941 OPS with five home runs over the last 28 days. With so many injuries to the outfield, McCutchen has been forced into action in the field more than the Brewers had likely planned, and his -.4 dWAR undoes some of his offensive value, but he's been one of the offensive anchors for the past six to eight weeks. Brewers starter Jason Alexander gave up single tallies in the second and fourth innings, while the Brewers offense was held in check by Twins starter Josh Winder through the fourth after the McCutchen home run. In the fifth inning, light-hitting Jonathan Davis slapped a single to center to score Hunter Renfroe and restore the Brewers lead at 3-2. With two outs and Davis on base, Willy Adames hit a towering home run to left that either the cameraman lost, or hasn't come down yet. Given the rain delay between his last inning, and possibly other factors, manager Craig Counsell pulled Alexander in favor of reliever Jandel Gustave who pitched a scoreless fifth inning. The Brewers stretched the lead to 6-2 on a Jace Peterson RBI single in the sixth inning. The Twins struck back for one off of recently-struggling reliever Brad Boxberger. The Brewers will have to have Boxberger get things figured out quickly with Josh Hader also running into some trouble closing games out as of late as well. With no further drama (or rain delays) on the night, the Brewers brought Hader in, and he emphatically slammed the door, striking out the side in the ninth. Gustave gets the win to bump his record to 2-0 on the season and Hader records save number 27. Game 2 -- Twins 4, Brewers 1 Box Score The Brewers offense went dormant again, providing just one run on a solo home run by Peterson. Starter Aaron Ashby went just 4 1/3 innings, with his pitch count ballooning over 100. He allowed six hits and three walks but allowed just one run in his short stint. Despite Ashby's short start and the Brewers lack of offense, the bullpen locked things down for the bulk of the afternoon, as Trevor Gott, Boxberger, and Devin Williams held the Twins in check until the ninth inning. The Brewers offense was held punchless as well, offering up just the noted solo homerun by Peterson against Twins starter Joe Ryan in the third inning. The Crew managed just four hits on the day, went 0-6 with men in scoring position, and left six men on base all told. Going into the bottom of the ninth, each of the first two Twins reached base against Brewers all-star closer Hader, and the third batter of the inning, Jose Miranda, ended it all with a monstrous three-run second deck shot. The loss drops Hader to 0-3 on the season as the Brewers left Minnesota with a split in the short two-game set.
  10. With the Crew coming off a lackluster home stand, they looked to rebound against their cross border American League rival Minnesota Twins. The lineup was bolstered with the return of Hunter Renfroe from the IL after a second extended stay for hamstring issues. Game 1 -- Brewers 6, Twins 3 Box Score Game one of the series was only occasionally stalled by rain, thunder, and lightning, as the Brewers and Twins waited at times for the ground crew to pull the tarp out only to immediately take it back off the field. Three separate weather delays held the game up, but ultimately the game was able to be completed in its entirety. The Brewers jumped out to a quick lead on a two-run, opposite-field poke from Andrew McCutchen. With his early season struggles well behind him, McCutchen has put up a .941 OPS with five home runs over the last 28 days. With so many injuries to the outfield, McCutchen has been forced into action in the field more than the Brewers had likely planned, and his -.4 dWAR undoes some of his offensive value, but he's been one of the offensive anchors for the past six to eight weeks. Brewers starter Jason Alexander gave up single tallies in the second and fourth innings, while the Brewers offense was held in check by Twins starter Josh Winder through the fourth after the McCutchen home run. In the fifth inning, light-hitting Jonathan Davis slapped a single to center to score Hunter Renfroe and restore the Brewers lead at 3-2. With two outs and Davis on base, Willy Adames hit a towering home run to left that either the cameraman lost, or hasn't come down yet. Given the rain delay between his last inning, and possibly other factors, manager Craig Counsell pulled Alexander in favor of reliever Jandel Gustave who pitched a scoreless fifth inning. The Brewers stretched the lead to 6-2 on a Jace Peterson RBI single in the sixth inning. The Twins struck back for one off of recently-struggling reliever Brad Boxberger. The Brewers will have to have Boxberger get things figured out quickly with Josh Hader also running into some trouble closing games out as of late as well. With no further drama (or rain delays) on the night, the Brewers brought Hader in, and he emphatically slammed the door, striking out the side in the ninth. Gustave gets the win to bump his record to 2-0 on the season and Hader records save number 27. Game 2 -- Twins 4, Brewers 1 Box Score The Brewers offense went dormant again, providing just one run on a solo home run by Peterson. Starter Aaron Ashby went just 4 1/3 innings, with his pitch count ballooning over 100. He allowed six hits and three walks but allowed just one run in his short stint. Despite Ashby's short start and the Brewers lack of offense, the bullpen locked things down for the bulk of the afternoon, as Trevor Gott, Boxberger, and Devin Williams held the Twins in check until the ninth inning. The Brewers offense was held punchless as well, offering up just the noted solo homerun by Peterson against Twins starter Joe Ryan in the third inning. The Crew managed just four hits on the day, went 0-6 with men in scoring position, and left six men on base all told. Going into the bottom of the ninth, each of the first two Twins reached base against Brewers all-star closer Hader, and the third batter of the inning, Jose Miranda, ended it all with a monstrous three-run second deck shot. The loss drops Hader to 0-3 on the season as the Brewers left Minnesota with a split in the short two-game set. View full article
  11. 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
  12. 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.
  13. It is no secret that the Milwaukee Brewers' offense is a source of concern for the club's World Series hopes. Perhaps the answer to a more consistent offense lies in the somewhat-neglected stolen base. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment. View full article
  14. The risk of an out while attempting stolen bases created a drop in value of the game's thievery over the past 20 years. With the surge of power at the plate and the focus on "protecting" your 27 outs, the risk-reward of stolen bases caused teams to pull back heavily. But has relying on power hitting made the Brewers susceptible to droughts and frustration? Especially as pitching has become a dominating force in MLB in recent seasons, a shift in thinking about the stolen base could help the Brewers score more often and fill in for the long ball when it dries up. Taking the chance on more steals can provide additional chances to score with one single instead of needing multiple base knocks or an extra-base hit. Swiping an extra bag here or there can also create more opportunities to strike with groundouts and sacrifice flies. While there is always some risk to steal attempts, there are a number of factors that favor more thefts. The Brewers are 9-12 this season when they don't hit a home run and 24-11 when they go deep. It's not surprising since home runs do so much damage. Even a solo blast is a guaranteed run. But failing to hit a tank shouldn't create a dramatic push toward a loss. Half of Milwaukee's defeats without a homer were one or two-run games, and a handful of them were low-scoring affairs. In games like those, which often happen in the playoffs, stealing a bag and sneaking a run makes a huge difference. It's not just about what the offense is doing, however. One the defensive side of the argument, the league caught stealing percentage (CS%) this year is 24.4%, second worst in MLB history. Only 2021 saw a lower success rate of throwing out base stealers (24.3%). Considering that trend, the risk is as low as ever to snag a bag and set up more chances to score. But the avoidance of stolen base attempts is more about what is valued offensively. At the same time, modern baseball has become incredibly challenging to hit on any consistent level. Entering play Monday, the league batting average in 2022 is at its fourth-lowest point since 1900 (.240). That may go up as warmer weather hits, but last season was the sixth worst in the previous 122 seasons (.242), so it wouldn't seem like much of a change is coming. No, batting average isn't the best gauge of offense anymore, but the point is that getting multiple hits in an inning - or getting the "big hit" - is far less likely nowadays. Even if power is your delight, the current league slugging percentage of .388 ranks just 65th in MLB history. Let's not forget nearly all those seasons included the pitcher batting in the NL, and each year before 1973 saw the AL without the DH, either. So if overall hitting and power is more of a struggle, it might be time to try something else. This isn't a small ball versus new-school argument. The cons related to sacrifice bunting are fair in that most of those bunts include at least one out. Stolen bases, however, have been far more successful in recent years. It has almost become a science for teams - well, advanced math. Swiping second or third base at a high percentage would limit the number of hits you need to score in any given inning. For a team like Milwaukee, a single additional run holds tons of value thanks to the pitching staff. A strategy to increase stolen base attempts wouldn't work for every team, but the Brewers have multiple guys on the roster who could take advantage. While pure speed isn't the only key to swiping bags, it certainly helps. Milwaukee has seven players who rank in the top 73 percentile of sprint speed in MLB: Andrew McCutchen (88.3%) Pablo Reyes (81.2%) Tyrone Taylor (79%) Jace Peterson (77.1%) Christian Yelich (76%) Willy Adames (73.7%) Lorenzo Cain (73.4%) The Brewers are currently seventh in steals (33) and have a 73% success rate (18th). Kolten Wong and Peterson are tied for the team lead with eight stolen bases. (Peterson is 8-for-8). The greatest struggle for a number of the players above is simply getting on base in order to steal. Once they actually acquire first base, pitchers often lose interest in that player, and they should take advantage. Many pitchers couldn't care less about holding runners or preventing stolen bases in the modern game. The emphasis is generally on making quality pitches and hitting their spots. This has led to most pitchers eschewing the slide step and sticking with a traditional leg kick, causing pitchers to take longer to deliver a pitch. Pay attention to this part of the game, as you will see it consistently creates more frequent opportunities to swipe bases. Not only do pitchers mostly ignore the runners, they also throw fewer fastballs than ever. Breaking balls and offspeed pitches are tougher for catchers to nab would-be thieves. As you can see below, hurlers throw the four-seam fastball, which generally travels straighter and quicker than any other pitch, less than 50% of the time in2022. That follows the recent downward trend of lower fastball percentages (FB%) and higher velocity (FBv). Pitchers' cold shoulders toward fastballs and fast runners open the door even more for Milwaukee to run through when the offense is stagnant. It has worked, theoretically, for some recent pennant winners, including some high-powered offenses. The 2021 season was the first time since 2012 that neither the AL nor the NL champion ranked in the top-six teams in MLB in stolen bases. While power will primarily drive offenses, these four World Series Champions and four runners-up took advantage of swiping many bags. 2020 Tampa Bay Rays (3rd in SB) 2019 Washington Nationals* (6th) 2018 Boston Red Sox* (3rd) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (1st) 2016 Cleveland Indians (4th) 2015 Kansas City Royals* (5th) 2014 Kansas City Royals (1st) 2013 Boston Red Sox* (4th) *World Series Champion Considering the Brewers haven't been to the World Series since 1982 and failed to reach the NLCS the past three seasons, what is there to lose? It might be valuable to learn how to maximize stolen bases by emphasizing the strategy more often during the regular season. Pick some key spots with select runners and specific hitters at the plate to get a feel for what works. Again, what's the harm? It would be tough to be much worse offensively and it might be a pleasant surprise. Though Milwaukee is 13th in runs scored in MLB, it's been blatantly clear the offense has been lacking the punch and steadiness you'd expect from a World Series contender. There is more than one way to create valuable runs, and the more you can diversify your tactics, the more difficult it is for the opposition to hold you down. Some may think trying to steal more bases is dumb, not worth the risk, or an outdated idea. If you're the Brewers with a world-class pitching staff and an uncertain offense, finding ways to get just one more run each game could be the difference between a dream season and another disappointment.
  15. In Saturday's non-televised game against the Texas Rangers, infielder Luis Urías exited early after injuring himself while running the bases. Reports came in quickly that Urías strained his left quadriceps muscle. After the game, manager Craig Counsell told reporters in Arizona that they'd know more about the severity of the injury come Sunday morning after some tests were performed. The results of those efforts ended up being that Urías will be out at least two weeks which puts his Opening Day start in jeopardy. If all that has you asking "Who's on Third?" and you respond to yourself with the classic "I Don't Know", you're in the right spot. I won't get into all of the why in this space today, but the immediate options as to who could play third for the Brewers until Urías returns to the lineup include last season's surprise Jace Peterson, new Brewer and natural third baseman Mike Brosseau (who was acquired via trade from the Tampa Bay Rays before the owners' lockout), and 2021's utility man and frequent optionee Pablo Reyes. The Brewers hope that they know what they've got in Peterson. He was a strong contributor at the plate when called upon in 2021, despite being available more than once to every other team in the league. If Peterson approximates the same level of offensive output in 2022, he'd be very viable as strong side of a platoon until Urías is ready. The soft side of that platoon would then come in the form of Brosseau who general manager Matt Arnold brought over in part because of his demonstrated ability to mash against left-handed pitching, an area of weakness for the Milwaukee offense last year. Backing them up -- likely at Triple-A Nashville to open the season unless the league decides to expand April rosters due to the shortness of this Spring Training -- would be Reyes. They're covered at the hot corner, is my point. Urías can take his time and make sure he's healthy before he gets back on the field.
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