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Tuesday, December 12th 2017
Crew

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CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers Week In Review: September 4-10

Well, this is getting interesting.

In a year of up-and-down weeks, the Brewers likely had their most up-and-down week this past week against a pair of division foes. First up was the Reds, the team who currently resides in the cellar of the NL Central. The Brewers proceeded to get swept in what may have been their ugliest series all year. Then came a three-game set at Wrigley Field against the division leading Chicago Cubs. The Brewers did not get swept this time around. In fact, they gave the Cubs a taste of the same medicine they had tasted just days earlier, handing the team from the North Side a sweep and pulling within just two games of the Cubs in the tight race for the division.

Now, let’s take a look at the week ahead for the Crew.

The Week Ahead

 

Upcoming series: vs. Pittsburgh (9/11-9/13) and @ Miami (9/15-9/17)

Pitching probables vs. Pittsburgh: Steven Brault (0-0, 5.79 ERA) vs. Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.52 ERA); Gerrit Cole (11-9, 3.93 ERA) vs. Brent Suter (2-2, 3.55 ERA); Tyler Glasnow (2-6, 7.45 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (9-3, 2.93 ERA)

Pitching probables @ Miami: TBD vs. Adam Conley (6-7, 5.23 ERA; TBD vs. Odrisamer Despaigne (0-3, 4.38 ERA); TBD vs. TBD

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner:

No one specific person will get this award this week, as the team as a whole showed a lot of swagger, specifically in knocking off the Cubs in Chicago. Going into a series where they needed at least a series win, they came through with a rather convincing sweep, in the process showing their rivals to the south that they are in no position to go away anytime soon.

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Hernan Perez

Over the past few weeks, the Brewers offense has been called several things by the Milwaukee faithful on social media, including “anemic”, “pathetic” and “garbage”. However, a certain game this week changed that (at least for now). On Saturday, the Brewers dropped 15 runs on the Cubs on their way to a 15-2 victory to take game two and provide the catalyst for their eventual series sweep. A big part of that game was Hernan Perez, who drove in 5 runs, including a 2-run shot which wrapped around the foul pole. Even outside of that one specific great performance, the Crew’s utility man had a solid series in general, going 2-for-3 in his other appearance on Sunday.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Anthony Swarzak/Corey Knebel

Okay, I really couldn’t decide between these two as to who deserved this award more. Because of this, at the end of the day, I decided that they both deserved it. The Crew’s shutdown 8th/9th inning combo had a great series against Chicago, combining for 4 innings pitched and 8 strikeouts without walking a single Cubs batter.

Swarzak: 2 holds (19, 20), 2 IP, 4 K

Knebel: 2 saves (33, 34), 2 IP, 2 H, 4 K

If the Brewers are going to be able to make their way back from the depths into a playoff spot, the pitching staff is going to be key, as is the back end of the bullpen.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Lewis Brinson (Brewers No. 1 Prospect; MLB.com’s #13 overall): .331, 22 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB (76 games) Currently out with hamstring injury

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .272, 15 2B, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB (58 games played with CS)

Lucas Erceg (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .400, 2 2B, 2 RBI (3 games)

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 12 Prospect): .305, 23 2B, 10 3B, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 9 SB (105 games with CS)

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 3 Prospect; MLB.com’s #75 overall): 4-7, 4.01 ERA, 94.1 IP, 79 K, 37 BB, 1.23 WHIP, .227 Opponent AVG

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 7 Prospect): 3-3, 2.10 ERA, 85.2 IP, 84 K, 20 BB, 1.00 WHIP, .212 AVG

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 18 Prospect): .239, 4 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB (23 games)

 

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect; MLB.com’s #63 overall): .238, 29 2B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB at A Adv Carolina (106 games)

Keston Hiura (Brewers No. 5 Prospect; MLB.com’s #88 overall): .333, 11 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 2 SB at A Wisconsin (27 games)

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): 3-4, 4.60 ERA, 72.1 IP, 57 K, 28 BB, 1.29 WHIP, .241 AVG at Adv A Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .251, 16 2B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 10 SB at A Wisconsin (104 games)

Brewers Week In Review: 8/28-9/3

Before we get into this edition of the Week In Review, the Brewers find themselves in a bit of a playoff race (not sure if you’ve heard or not). Here’s how they stack up (standings as of 9/3)

Standings Update:

National League Central

  1. Chicago Cubs: 75-61
  2. Milwaukee Brewers: 72-65 (3.5 GB)
  3. St. Louis Cardinals: 69-67 (6.0 GB)
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 65-72 (10.5 GB)
  5. Cincinnati Reds: 58-79 (17.5 GB)

National League Wild Card Standings:

1st Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks 79-58 (+6.5 games)

2nd Wild Card: Colorado Rockies 72-64

Milwaukee Brewers 72-65 (0.5 GB)

St. Louis Cardinals 69-67 (3.0 GB)

Miami Marlins 67-69 (5.0 GB)

Pittsburgh Pirates 65-72 (7.5 GB)

Well, they did it. After 13 games against some of the best that MLB had to offer (and the Giants), the Brewers have weathered the storm. After series wins against the Dodgers, Rockies and Nationals, the Crew escaped what was, according to some, a possible nail in the coffin may have become a major shot in the arm for a team that very much needed one headed into the season’s final 25 games.

The Week Ahead

 

Upcoming series: @ Cincinnati (9/4-9/6) and @ Chicago Cubs (9/8-9/10)

Pitching matchups @ Cincinnati: Chase Anderson (8-3, 2.96 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (4-7, 7.51 ERA); Zach Davies (16-7, 3.85 ERA) vs. Robert Stephenson (3-4, 5.52 ERA); TBD (likely Jimmy Nelson) vs. Luis Castillo (2-7, 3.32 ERA)

Pitching matchups @ Chicago Cubs: TBD vs. John Lackey (11-10, 4.74 ERA); TBD vs. TBD; TBD vs. TBD

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner: Keon Broxton

His game-saving catch on Randal Grichuk and his reaction afterwards… that is all.

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Domingo Santana

Who else could this award have gone to after his monster performance on Sunday to lead Milwaukee to a 7-2 victory, and crucial four game series win over, the Washington Nationals. Now, had Manny Pina gotten just a little more power on his swing on Saturday night to walk things off in his first at-bat back, he would have had a chance at this award. However, Santana takes it home as he continues to excel and truly live up to his first name on Sundays.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Zach Davies

On July 25th, I said on a Cream City Central Bumpers entry (go subscribe now) that we as Brewers fans would see the Zach Davies of old that night against the Nationals. In that game, the baby-faced pitcher would do just that (7.2 innings, 3 hits, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks). Little did I know at that time that he would save the jewel in his 2017 crown for the best of them all, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Davies, or as he was known in this game “Bat Boy”, was simply outstanding against the boys in blue. He pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball against one of the top offenses in the game while only allowing 3 hits and striking out 7 hitters without walking a single one. What better time for the Zach Davies of 2016 to come out again than when the Brewers need him most.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Lewis Brinson (Brewers No. 1 Prospect; MLB.com’s #15 overall): .331, 22 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB (76 games) Currently out with hamstring injury

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .274, 15 2B, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 7 SB (56 games played with CS)

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 12 Prospect): .305, 23 2B, 10 3B, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 9 SB (105 games with CS) September Call-Up

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 3 Prospect; MLB.com’s #78 overall): 4-7, 3.99 ERA, 90.1 IP, 78 K, 33 BB, 1.20 WHIP, .226 Opponent AVG

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 7 Prospect): 3-3, 2.10 ERA, 85.2 IP, 84 K, 20 BB, 1.00 WHIP, .212 AVG

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 18 Prospect): .259, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB (21 games)

 

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect; MLB.com’s #66 overall): .236, 28 2B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB at A Adv Carolina (110 games)

Keston Hiura (Brewers No. 5 Prospect; MLB.com’s #91 overall): .333, 10 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 2 SB at A Wisconsin (26 games)

Lucas Erceg (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .256, 33 2B, 15 HR, 81 RBI at A Adv Carolina (127 games); Called up to AAA Colorado Springs

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): 3-4, 4.60 ERA, 72.1 IP, 57 K, 28 BB, 1.29 WHIP, .241 AVG at Adv A Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .251, 16 2B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 10 SB at A Wisconsin (103 games)

 

Brewers Minor League Review: August

With the minor-league season coming to a close, it is time for the final “Minor League Review” of the season. August saw all Brewers’ affiliates play competitive baseball, and while only one affiliate (Colorado Springs) will make their league’s playoffs, Biloxi and Carolina made valiant pushes down the stretch. Let’s take a look at the individual performance of each team, starting with Triple-A:

Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA)

Record: 14-13 in August, 78-55 Overall

MVP: Nate Orf (.366/.430/.677, 11 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR)

Summary:

After already losing Garrett Cooper and Ryan Cordell to trades in the month of July, the Sky Sox took an even bigger hit with the minor league season-ending injury to top prospect Lewis Brinson. Despite this, Colorado Springs locked up their first postseason berth in 20 years. On offense, Brett Phillips continued his domination of Triple-A pitching, hitting .326/.406/.506. The catching duo of Rene Garcia (.383/.400/.468) and Tyler Heineman (.357/.449/.548) provided some surprising firepower. However, most impressive was second baseman Nate Orf, who hit .366/.430/.677 on the month. Mauricio Dubon (.218/.287/.295) struggled in his second full month of Triple-A ball, with the wear and tear of a full season possibly contributing to his slump.

On the mound, the Sky Sox have now lost two of their top starters in Paolo Espino (traded to Texas for cash considerations) and Brandon Woodruff (will be called up to join the big-league rotation for September). This means the Sky Sox will rely on Taylor Jungmann (2-1, 1.50 ERA in five starts), Bubba Derby (3-0, 3.80 ERA in four starts) and Angel Ventura (1-1, 3.68 ERA in four starts) to anchor their rotation down the stretch into the playoffs, along with Junior Guerra (2-1, 1.52 ERA in five starts) if the Brewers do not recall him to provide depth for the September playoff push. In the bullpen, Wei-Chung Wang continued to lead the pack, giving up two runs over nine innings of relief, and will likely be recalled to Milwaukee. Wily Peralta also turned in seven scoreless relief appearances, although he did post a K/BB ratio of 7-to-6.

Biloxi Shuckers (AA)

Record:  16-11, 68-65 Overall

MVP: Freddy Peralta (1-1, 0.40 ERA, 33K)

Summary:

The Shuckers turned in an excellent month as they pushed towards the playoffs, but their bid ultimately turned out to be too little, too late, as they are eliminated from playoff contention. With their roster bolstered by the promotions of outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. and infielder Jake Gatewood, an offense once devoid of difference makers became quite the opposite. Gatewood continued his breakout season by hitting .256/.293/.474 in his first taste of Double-A pitching, while also beginning to play both first and third base. It will be important for Gatewood to maintain the plate discipline he developed at Class A-Advanced Carolina, as he drew only four walks on the month. Stokes performed well in his first full month since being promoted, hitting .250/.342/.420 with 4 HR and 7 SB. His power-speed profile could make him an interesting fourth outfielder on the big-league squad in the future. Clint Coulter displayed improved plate discipline by walking 14 times en route to a .375 OBP, but still struggled to a .231 batting average. Jacob Nottingham continued his nosedive at the plate while on occasion showing flashes of the offensive talent that made him a standout prospect, hitting .167/.342/.383, with August marking the third month that he has hit under .170. Tyrone Taylor struggled as well after returning from injury, putting up a .190/.271/.405 line in 12 August games.

Several members of the impressive pitching staff continued to perform at a high level. Corbin Burnes highlighted his month with eight innings of two-hit ball on August 21st, putting an exclamation point on his breakout season that will almost certainly culminate in being named Brewers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 1.91 ERA over five August starts. Freddy Peralta continued to mow down hitters, striking out 33 hitters in 22 and 1/3 innings of work while achieving a 0.40 ERA and holding opponents to a .105 batting average. If Peralta can reduce his walks (4.7 BB/9 on the season) he could be a dangerous piece of Milwaukee’s future. Aaron Wilkerson came off his brilliant July to put up a solid line of 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA. The Shuckers also benefitted from the relief performances of Nick Ramirez and Taylor Williams. Ramirez continued to absolutely deal in his first professional season on the mound, pitching his way to a 3-0 record and a 1.86 ERA in 19 and 1/3 innings out of the pen. The Brewers will have to add him to the 40-man roster this offseason or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft, where another MLB team would most likely give him a shot given his success this year. Williams returned from a long layoff in late July and early August to spin six scoreless appearances spanning eight innings, holding opponents to a .095 batting average in the process and striking out ten. Williams could be a surprise add to the Brewers’ September squad, as he resides on the 40-man roster and could benefit from gaining MLB experience in low leverage situations.

Carolina Mudcats (Class A-Advanced)

Record: 14-14 in August, 69-65 Overall

MVP: Monte Harrison (.304/.355/.515, 5 HR, 9 SB)

Summary:

Things are finally starting to click for the Mudcats on many levels, but they likely will come up just short of the playoffs. Third baseman Lucas Erceg enjoyed an outstanding month, hitting .296/.384/.480. With his resurgent second half, it looks as though he is prepared to start in Double-A Biloxi at the outset of 2018. Outfielder Monte Harrison continued his push for Brewers Minor League Player of the Year by posting elite numbers in just his second full month at the level and achieving a 20-20 season. Corey Ray started to come alive but faded down the stretch, hitting .236/.300/.355, which is still a solid improvement over his July performance. Catcher Cooper Hummel mashed his way to a .273/.356/.442 line. However, this month was no different than any other in terms of disappointments, which in August turned out to be middle infielder Isan Diaz and outfielder Trent Clark. Limited by injury, Diaz struggled to a .161 average, while Clark took a step back from an impressive July to post a .186 average. Clark still drew his usual abundance of walks, but he needs to start swinging the bat better to begin to reach his ceiling as a first round pick.

On the mound, the Mudcats were led by Jordan Yamamoto. He tallied a 4-1 record in five starts to go along with a 2.03 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. August marked Yamamoto’s second straight month with a sub-3.00 ERA, and he seems prepared to start 2018 in Double-A Biloxi’s rotation. Zack Brown continued his impressive debut month with the team by going 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA. After his stellar month of July, Trey Supak continued to pitch well, sporting a 3.86 ERA in August. The same could not be said for Kodi Medeiros after his standout July, however, as he struggled to a 7.83 ERA over his five appearances (four starts) during August. It is starting to appear that his full-time conversion from starter to reliever could be looming sooner rather than later.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Class-A)

Record: 14-15 in August, 57-77 Overall

MVP: Thomas Jankins (3-2, 2.35 ERA)

Summary:

While not succeeding in the win column this season, some players have shown considerable talent in spots, and August was no exception to that sentiment. At the plate, first baseman Ronnie Gideon led the way with a .260/.318/.450 line. First rounder Keston Hiura was shut down mid-month with a hamstring injury after hitting .283/.352/.370, cooling off after a scorching start to his professional career. His advanced approach and hit tool should allow him to move through the system quickly, although he will need to develop a defensive home. Although not displaying much power, catcher Mario Feliciano’s ability to hit for average is impressive for an 18-year-old, as he slashed .284/.356/.309. He will grow into his power as his body matures. Third baseman Dallas Carroll performed well after being promoted from Rookie-Level Helena, batting .260/.339/.396. While the results are there, he likely won’t be anything more than an organizational depth player in the long run.

Some members of the pitching staff continued to display their talent and potential. Thomas Jankins once again was the ace of the staff after a dominant July, going 3-2 with a 2.35 ERA in six games. Josh Pennington remained strong after his mid-season return from injury, achieving a 1-1 record with a 2.02 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in four limited starts, his best being August 11th when he struck out nine in five scoreless innings. Lefty Drake Owenby pitched to a 2.31 ERA in six games (three starts), holding opponents to a .173 batting average. He is a sleeper candidate to make a splash next year, and will likely move up to Class A-Advanced Carolina.

So that’s a wrap on the 2017 Minor League Review. Check back throughout the month for an end-of-season top-20 Brewers prospects series!

The Intangibles Orlando Arcia Brings to Milwaukee

It is no question that this Brewers season has been an interesting one. From beginning the season projected to be basement dwellers, to leading by 5.5 games at the all-star break, to now a couple games back at the beginning of September, its safe to say this season has been a roller coaster.

There have been players like Domingo Santana, and Jimmy Nelson who have pleasantly surprised the ball club. Additionally, new acquisitions like Travis Shaw and Eric Thames who have made the front office look like they have a magic 8 ball hidden somewhere. That aside, there has been one player that has stood out and has brought life to the organization, Orlando Arcia.

Just off of his 23rd birthday, the young Venezuelan has flashed the leather all over the field since his debut. However, it is not just his defensive skills that have made their mark on Milwaukee. His average has risen to the .270-290 range for the last few months, and he is beginning to find power he rarely had down in the minors.

There is still more to Arcia’s game that makes him special, it’s the intangibles, or as they say,

“The things you can’t coach” –every coach ever.

Initially the first thing you notice, the energy he brings inside the clubhouse is incredible. The Brewers are a young team trying to exceed expectations, and it is beginning to seem like the leader of the pack is the young shortstop.

Another thing that stands out about El Niño’s defense is that he often calls off teammates on fly balls, even if the pop up isn’t close to him. At first glance it seems like that’s because he’s a gold glove caliber player, but it goes deeper than that. It shows that he not only is acknowledged as a great player by his teammates, but they trust him to make that play. Bottom line, they trust him as a leader, and that is something you can’t put a price on.

He is also the life at the end of “the gauntlet” for every homerun hit by the team, as he screams at the batters and/or splashes water in their face as they make their return to the dugout. If you have been asleep all season and haven’t seen this, it looks somewhat like this,

giphy.com

Orlando is so into this, even if he is on the base paths when one of Counsell’s Crushers smacks one, he will run to the end of the gauntlet to celebrate accordingly. Can’t coach that.

Finally, he interacts with fans; he is a 23-year-old kid who is just having fun out there.Exhibit A, the ice cream incident:

imgur.com

It may seem dumb, but it shows the fans of Milwaukee that this guy has a personality behind that smile, and it is only a matter of time before he could be the face that this franchise as been desperately waiting for.

Brewers Week In Review: 8/21-8/27

The toughest part of the season thus far for the Brewers has come and gone and, all told, things went pretty well. The Crew escaped Colorado, San Francisco and Los Angeles with a 5-4 record. There was some good (series win over Dodgers, pitching looked good) but also some bad (series loss to San Fran, falling victim to AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium dimensions). However, the road ahead gets no easier. The Crew’s reward? An always tough Cardinals squad that remains just 2.5 back of Milwaukee’s second spot despite recent struggles, as well as the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. If the Brewers can close in further on Chicago over the next six games, perhaps some scoreboard watching would be in order? We shall see.

For now, though, let’s catch a look at the week ahead.

The Week Ahead

 

Upcoming series: vs. St. Louis (8/29-8/30) and vs. Washington (8/31-9/3)

Pitching probables vs. St. Louis: Luke Weaver (2-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (6-7, 4.67 ERA); Carlos Martinez (10-9, 3.48 ERA) vs. Chase Anderson (7-3, 2.87 ERA)

Pitching probables vs. Washington: Gio Gonzalez (13-5, 2.40 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (15-7, 3.91 ERA); Tanner Roark (11-8, 4.63 ERA) vs. Jimmy Nelson (10-6, 3.75 ERA); TBD vs. Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.62 ERA); Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.21 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (6-8, 4.77 ERA)

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner: Hernan Perez

With a west coast trip brings some California swagger. Add to that all the pageantry that came with the inaugural Player’s Weekend, and you have several candidates for this award. However, Hernan “Pan Blanco” Perez takes home this award this week. He hit the most important home runs in some time for the Brewers with a third inning solo shot off of Yu Darvish that helped propel the Brewers to the series win, the first team do accomplish such a feat over the Dodgers since June 5-7 when Washington took the Brooklyn transplants down.

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Domingo Santana

So, with no one really jumping off the page this week in terms of dominance, I went with the person who performed the best in the team’s wins, even though he did perform pretty well in one of their losses too. That man is Domingo Santana (yeah, it was a somewhat boring week). Hopefully, the Crew can return to their offensive ways in this coming week and make the next award winner much more dominant.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Corey Knebel

Well, should we really consider renaming this award? Put me down as a maybe, but Knebel has certainly found himself in this spot a lot, as he does here. The Crew’s main man in the ‘pen had plenty of opportunity this week, as he notched saves 27, 28 and 29 as well as racking up 5 strikeouts in just 3 innings pitched, including a pair in both outings against the league’s best in Los Angeles. A man who has sometimes looked more like a reincarnation of K-Rod and his “15 minutes of terror”, this week showed a Knebel who seems to have found his footing again and can be a reliable part of the Brewers’ playoff hopes.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Lewis Brinson (Brewers No. 1 Prospect; MLB.com’s #15 overall): .331, 22 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB (76 games) Currently out with hamstring injury

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .273, 14 2B, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 7 SB (51 games played with CS)

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 12 Prospect): .309, 23 2B, 10 3B, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 9 SB (103 games with CS)

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 3 Prospect; MLB.com’s #78 overall): 4-7, 3.99 ERA, 90.1 IP, 78 K, 33 BB, 1.20 WHIP, .226 Opponent AVG

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 7 Prospect): 3-3, 2.18 ERA, 82.2 IP, 82 K, 17 BB, 0.97 WHIP, .209 AVG

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 18 Prospect): .275, 4 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB (17 games)

 

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect; MLB.com’s #66 overall): .242, 28 2B, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB at A Adv Carolina (106 games)

Keston Hiura (Brewers No. 5 Prospect; MLB.com’s #91 overall): .347, 9 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 2 SB at A Wisconsin (24 games) Currently on 7-day DL

Lucas Erceg (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .257, 32 2B, 14 HR, 77 RBI at A Adv Carolina (124 games)

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): 3-4, 4.60 ERA, 72.1 IP, 57 K, 28 BB, 1.29 WHIP, .241 AVG at Adv A Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .252, 16 2B, 4 HR, 36 RBI, 9 SB at A Wisconsin (101 games)

King of the Diamond- Week of 8/14-8/20

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every week we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Brewers put together a solid week, sweeping the Pirates in a two-game series and taking two out of three in Colorado. The series win against the Rockies was huge as it showed the Crew could compete on the road with a playoff contender. They now look ahead to a series with the Giants and a pivotal weekend series against the Dodgers before returning home on August 29th.

King of the Diamond- Jesus Aguilar

Image result for jesus aguilar

Jesus Aguilar picks up this week’s Diamond award after crucial, game-changing performances against the Rockies. Despite only playing in three games last week, Aguilar homered three times in two games played against the Rockies, including a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to seal a 6-3 game two victory. Aguilar wasn’t done yet, as he rounded the bases twice more the following day in an 8-4, series clinching win. He has struggled for quite some time, and it would appear that he has overcame his extended drought at the plate. Aguilar may not be an every day player for the Crew, but he deserves at-bats as the playoff race continues to heat up.

King of the Diamond- Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Image result for anthony rizzo

The Cubs split a four-game series with the Reds to begin the week but finished it off with a sweep of the Blue Jays. Anthony Rizzo’s hot bat earns him our divisional Diamond award this week. Playing in every game last week, Rizzo went 12-for-28 with two home runs and 13 RBI’s. The first baseman performed in the clutch and continues to be a vital starter for the Cubs as we move into the latter part of August. The Cubs own a two-game lead over the Brewers and 3.5 games on the Cardinals, who appear to be fading.

 

 

Brewers Week In Review: 8/14-8/20

Milwaukee entered the middle of August needing some big wins to keep pace with the Cubs near the top of the NL Central, and it’s safe to say they got them. After a 2-game series win over Pittsburgh at Miller Park, the Brewers began their critical 9-game road trip out west with a visit to Colorado and, beneficially, Coors Field. The environment brought some aid to the Crews’ struggling offense, as power hitters shined and players both tenured and new recorded much-needed base hits. With series against San Fran and L.A. on the horizon, will the Brewers’ hot streak continue?

Let’s take a moment to look at the week ahead.

The Week Ahead

 

Upcoming series: @ San Francisco (8/21-8/23) and @ Los Angeles Dodgers (8/25-8/27)

Pitching probables @ San Francisco: Zach Davies (14-6, 4.26 ERA) vs. Chris Stratton (1-2, 4.91 ERA); Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.74 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.79 ERA); Matt Garza (6-7, 4.81 ERA) vs. Matt Moore (4-12, 5.54 ERA)

Pitching probables @ Los Angeles: Chase Anderson (7-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Kenta Maeda (11-5, 3.88 ERA); Zach Davies (14-6, 4.26 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (14-1, 2.30 ERA); Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.74 ERA) vs. TBD

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner: Neil Walker

The new guy makes his way into the awards section of the Brewers Week In Review. Since coming to the Crew, Neil Walker has played great, hitting 9-for-20 with 1 home run and 5 RBIs. Also, to be honest, there really wasn’t anyone else that I could think of to put in this spot, as everyone just played solid baseball rather than go “balls to the wall” so to speak. However, that is not to say in the slightest that Neil Walker doesn’t deserve the heck out of this award.

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Jesus Aguilar

Until the last two games of the Rockies series, this award may have gone to one Neil Walker. However, I mean, come on. How can you beat two home runs, both of which turned out to be crucial in terms of insurance for the Brewers in their series win, the award has to go to Aguilar this week. Not only was this the best week of the season for Aguilar, it may just have given him the edge over Eric Thames when it comes to the battle of first basemen for the rest of the stretch run.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Chase Anderson

Just like two weeks ago, the Ben Sheets Award goes to a pitcher who waited a long time for his next opportunity to come. This time, it’s Anderson. Making his first appearance following a serious oblique injury in June against Cincinnati, the right-hander impressed. While he was on a limited pitch count (threw just 73 pitches in 5 innings), he was often dominant in shutting down Colorado’s potent offense, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out four and notching his seventh win of the year. While he did struggle with walks and the bullpen did make things a bit… interesting near the end, Anderson did get the job done in his return, one which came just in time for Milwaukee in their pursuit of a playoff push.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Lewis Brinson (Brewers No. 1 Prospect; MLB.com’s #15 overall): .331, 22 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 11 SB (76 games) Currently out with hamstring injury

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .268, 13 2B, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 7 SB (46 games played with CS)

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 12 Prospect): .316, 23 2B, 10 3B, 19 HR, 76 RBI, 9 SB (98 games with CS)

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 3 Prospect; MLB.com’s #79 overall): 4-6, 4.00 ERA, 83.1 IP, 75 K, 32 BB, 1.19 WHIP, .220 Opponent AVG

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 7 Prospect): 3-3, 2.20 ERA, 69.2 IP, 72 K, 10 BB, 0.95 WHIP, .217 AVG

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 18 Prospect): .289, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB (10 games)

 

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect; MLB.com’s #67 overall): .239, 25 2B, 7 HR, 46 RBI, 23 SB at A Adv Carolina (100 games)

Keston Hiura (Brewers No. 5 Prospect; MLB.com’s #92 overall): .347, 9 2B, 2 3B, 15 RBI, 2 SB at A Wisconsin (24 games) Currently on 7-day DL

Lucas Erceg (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .246, 29 2B, 13 HR, 70 RBI at A Adv Carolina (118 games)

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): 3-4, 4.81 ERA, 67.1 IP, 55 K, 26 BB, 1.31 WHIP, .244 AVG at Adv A Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .249, 14 2B, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 9 SB at A Wisconsin (94 games)

Keon Broxton is a (Good and Bad) Streaky Nightmare

This season, no player’s performance has been quite like that of Brewers’ centerfielder Keon Broxton. One day he’s going 0-4 with three strikeouts. The next he’s leading the offense with extra base hits and stolen bases. One day he’s a glaring hole in the lineup. The next? He’s an offensive juggernaut. Keon Broxton truly is the most interesting baseball player in the world, in this regard.

Coming off a breakout 2016 season, many expected big things out of Broxton. He had just hit .242/.354/.430 in 73 games, while ending the year on a high note by hitting .294/.399/.538 in the second half (45 games). Despite playing in only 75 games and having a miserable first half (.125/.253/.188), he recorded 2.1 wins above replacement (WAR) according to FanGraphs, an outstanding accomplishment given that over a full season, 2.0 WAR is considered to be a solid “starter” level of output. He did that in under half a season.

That first half of 2016 was a warning sign, though, hinting at Broxton’s inconsistent tendencies – and his 2017 performance has become the Merriam-Webster definition of “streaky”. This April, Broxton hit .191/.276/.324, followed by a line of .289/.349/.536 in May. Then, he hit a solid .241/.312/.554 in June followed by an abysmal .067/.176/.133 in July, prompting a demotion to Triple-A.

Since returning to the Brewers’ lineup on August 1st, we have seen the potent Keon once again. He is hitting .296/.387/.667 for the month, and has single handedly carried the Brewers’ offense at times, highlighted by his two-home run game this past Wednesday to capture a crucial win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. That formed the crux of a three-game stretch in which Broxton hit four home runs. This is the player the Brewers need – a power-speed threat that can provide instant offense at any moment.

So, why does Broxton’s output vary so drastically? One key reason is that Broxton fits the profile of what many call a “Three True Outcomes” player. This means that a large portion of his plate appearances end in either a strikeout, walk, or home run. Accordingly, his “TTO” percentage for this season is 57.4%. Given that such a large percentage of his output is confined to these three results, there will be times when certain outcomes exceed others, and this is especially true given his high strikeout rate (37.5%).

To check the validity of this claim, let’s compare Broxton’s season “TTO” percentage (57.4%) against his “TTO” percentage in August. In August, Broxton’s plate appearances have culminated in one of the three true outcomes 55.2% of the time, which is right on track with his season long percentage. If we added just one more of any of the three true outcomes to his existing stat line for the month, the percentage would be at 57%, or on par with his percentage for the season. Based on this information, the difference between “normal-Broxton” and “super-human-Broxton” seems to lie in the outcomes alternative to the three true ones, meaning batted balls that are not home runs.

To look at that, we can analyze Broxton’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP). This will tell us something about both the quality of his batted balls and whether or not some luck is partially responsible for his performance (or lack thereof). Additionally, we can discern whether or not batted ball data such as quality of contact (e.g. hard or soft) support his BABIP.

For the 2017 season, Broxton has a BABIP of .330. The league average tends to be around .300, but it is normal for a hitter with a strikeout/power profile to have a slightly elevated number. For August, Broxton’s BABIP is higher than his season mark, resting at .385. Is this increase due to luck? Or higher performance? Based on his batted ball data, it looks to be fair to attribute it to performance. On the season, Broxton has hit 36.5% of balls “hard”, compared to 56.7% in August. The quality of his contact is off the charts, with his hard contact percentage placing 2nd in the league in the month of August. That proves this stretch is no fluke, as he is performing at an extremely high level.

How can Broxton take the leap to become a high-level hitter consistently? There is one answer, and that is to cut his strikeout rate. When you strikeout at a clip as high as Broxton, it puts an increasing amount of weight on having good contact. Striking out over 37% of the time necessitates a really good contact profile in order to be even league average at the plate. If Broxton did not have a good contact profile, he would have no chance to be a contributor on an MLB team, as he simply would not put enough balls in play to make an impact.

If Broxton can slash his strikeout rate and maintain his contact profile, he could evolve into a consistent offensive force. Until that happens, though, we will continue to see shades of Broxton’s best and worst. His increased performance at the moment comes with a high strikeout percentage of 36.2% for the month, leaving him increasingly susceptible to another slump. Broxton’s increase in quality contact shows that he can be a solid contributor even with a strikeout rate that high – it’s just the difference between Broxton taking that leap from “offensive contributor” to “offensive force”.

Crew silencing critics

2017 Brewers showing Stearns’ rebuild decision was right move

Before the start of baseball season every fan’s dream is envisioning themselves sitting in their home stadium in October, with a hot dog in their left hand and a beer in their right hand, watching their team compete in the MLB playoffs. It’s every fan’s happy place.

The Milwaukee Brewers are on the brink of making every fan’s dream a reality. To be sitting in Miller Park cheering on their hometown Crew on a beautiful fall day in October, in the thick of the National League playoffs.

The Brewers are currently sitting at a record of 63-59, only a mere two games behind the World Champion Chicago Cubs (65-57), a half-game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals (63-60), and 4.5 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates (59-64).

With 38 games remaining, the playoff push is officially off and running. The Crew still have to face-off with these three divisional opponents 18 times. 13 of these match ups coming in their final 16 games. This includes what could be an all-so-pivotal four-game home series against the Cubs that when concluded, would leave only six games remaining on the schedule. The Crew also wrap-up the regular season with a three-game set in St. Louis, ending on Oct. 1.  

While the playoffs are within reach, and undoubtedly on every fan’s mind, I simply ask fans to take a deep breath and a step backward. Before we get ahead of ourselves, as fans, we need to think about some contributing factors.

Before the season began, there were no expectations of this team. Many pre-season polls had the Brewer’s winning between 62 and 65 games and taking last place in the NL Central. At the start of the season, Vegas had the over/under of wins for the Brewers at 72.5 games, the second lowest among MLB teams. The Brewers also had the lowest payroll in all of baseball ($63,031,300), which was a shade over a quarter of the league-leading Dodgers ($242,065,828).

David Stearns officially took over as the Brewer’s General Manager in Oct. 2015, and considering the circumstances, seems to be the right man for the job. Stearns signed backup third-baseman Travis Shaw from the Boston Red Sox before the start of this season. Shaw has been the Brewer’s best player this season, hitting .293 with 79 RBI’s and 26 home-runs.

The most notable move Stearns has made as GM was trading away all-star catcher Jonathon Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress in Aug. 2016 to the Texas Rangers. The Brewers’ received outfielder Lewis Brinson, outfielder/third-baseman Ryan Cordell, and RHP Luis Ortiz. Which seemed to reassure Brewer fans the rebuilding process was officially underway.

Stearns has completely flipped over the Brewer’s roster since taking over in Oct. 2015. He has traded away players such as outfielder Khris Davis, and shortstop Jean Segura. Trading away Segura brought in starting pitcher Chase Anderson, who is currently 6-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.89 on 16 starts.

The Segura trade also paved-the-way for our budding star-shortstop Orlando Arcia. The 23-year-old is currently batting .284, good enough for second among NL shortstops, in only his first season as a full-time starter.

Other moves that Stearns has made have brought in players like Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar, Jonathon Villar, Hernan Perez, Junior Guerra, and Keon Broxton. All of whom have been an integral part of this magical Brewer’s season.

Thames currently leads the Brewers in home-runs with 27, and has driven in 51 runs. Perez has proved to be an excellent utility player and can fill in at any defensive position, whether it’s the infield or outfield, and seems to do it with ease.

With all of these great signings, this still isn’t the most impressive thing Stearns has done. Stearns is keeping these players for the future. None of the players mentioned above will be free-agents until the 2020 season. Stearns has not only been able to keep the lowest payroll in the MLB, but has locked-up key players for at least the next two seasons.

Stearns has made it a point to build this team with his eyes looking forward. Restructuring the Brewers’ lineup looking at the future, while still keeping his mind on the present. Stearns even recently acquired second baseman Neil Walker from the New York Mets.

This move does more than just tend to our second base struggles this season. The GM is showing fans he is committed to this season, while at the same time, showing he doesn’t have to throw the kitchen sink at teams to get better.

As this playoff push moves forward, fans need to support this team. This city needs to buy into the process, and have patience. Fans need to realize that something great is brewing up in Milwaukee. Behind the genius of David Stearns, the Brewers’ run to becoming an MLB powerhouse is just taking off, and well ahead of schedule.

A new golden-age of Milwaukee Brewers baseball is surely coming, and on-the-cusp of bursting. Just remember Brewer fans, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and patience is a virtue. Go Crew!

Thank You, Wilmer Flores

Let’s take a trip back to July 29, 2015. Wilmer Flores is at shortstop for the New York Mets, crying. Some may have figured he was emotional because the Mets were losing 7 to 2 at the time, others may have assumed he was frustrated from his last at-bat, and a select few may have thought that he was thinking about the tear-jerking scenes from Southpaw which had been released a week earlier. In reality, Wilmer Flores had been notified that he had been traded.

In Milwaukee, some were irate while others were overjoyed at the sight of Wilmer’s tears as they knew he, along with former top 10 pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, would be headed to the 414 in exchange for the Brewers’ all-star center fielder, Carlos Gomez. Brewers and Mets fans alike voiced their happiness or displeasure as social media outlets exploded and local bar patrons argued back and forth; however, at 11:13 PM, all were silent.

The blockbuster trade was no more. The Mets training staff saw an issue with Gomez’s hip (which had never given him problems) during his physical and backed off, ultimately cancelling the deal. Those in Milwaukee who were outraged, were pleased, while those who desired the services of the highly touted utility man and the potential ace became sullen.

The Brewers continued the search for a willing trade companion and found just that in the Houston Astros just a day later. Milwaukee parted ways with Carlos Gomez and starting pitcher Mike Fiers and received outfielders, Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips, along with pitchers, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader.

Now, let’s hop in the DeLorean again and come back to August 16, 2017. Carlos Gomez is now with the Texas Rangers. He hit a disappointing .221/.277/.342 over 126 games with Houston and was released in 2016. The Rangers picked him up and he has been serviceable posting a .260/.345/.480 with 23 home runs over 119 games (comparable to his years in Milwaukee.) Mike Fiers has been a decent back end starter for the Astros with a no-hitter, 4.24 ERA, and 64 home runs against in 64 games.

Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler are both with the Mets. Zack Wheeler missed two full years with Tommy John surgery. One and a half of these seasons would have been in Milwaukee had the original trade gone through. He earned a rotation slot this year, but has not had the most positive results posting a 5.21 ERA, 1.58 WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched), and has found himself on the disabled list again with a biceps injury. Wilmer Flores is having a career year hitting .284/.318/.496 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI, but he has only seen action in 93 games. Essentially, he is the Mets’ version of Milwaukee’s Hernán Peréz without the ability to play in the outfield

The crop the Brewers have received has resulted in two full time MLB players, one that has had experience with the club, and one that had a cup of coffee with the Brewers through September call ups. Adrian Houser pitched two innings for the Brewers in 2015. He is currently on a rehab assignment in Rookie ball, but is normally a AA pitcher who has seen some struggles as he had a 5.25 ERA before being injured in 2016. Brett Phillips has bounced between AAA and the MLB this year. He has hit .229/.289/.429 in 39 plate appearances and has been great in the field, barring one error that occurred in his MLB debut. Phillips has emerged as the Brewers’ number 12 prospect and may be a future starter in Milwaukee.

The two we see the most often have assumed key roles on the playoff contending Brewers’ roster this year. Rookie bullpen arm, Josh Hader, has provided a lights-out left handed option for Craig Counsell to rely on. In 25.1 innings pitched, Hader has registered a 0.71 ERA with 32 strikeouts and only 2 earned runs given up. Hader is viewed as a future starting pitcher for the Brewers; however, the sample size that has been provided shows that he has the potential to contribute in a variety of roles. Right fielder Domingo Santana is the crown jewel at this point. As of August 17th, Domingo is hitting .269/.362/.464 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI through 116 games played. Because of this, he has become a fixture in the top half of the lineup as a cleanup and leadoff hitter.

That’s a lot of information. Your head may be spinning, so let’s recap what the Mets, Astros, and Brewers received or retained through this whole ordeal:

Mets:                                                        -2 playoff appearances, 53-65 in 2017 (18.0 GB in the NL East)
-Zack Wheeler: Has not played a full season since 2014
-Wilmer Flores: Utility man who is hitting over .270 for the first time in his 4.5 year career

Astros:                                                          -1 playoff appearance, 74-46 in 2017 (1st place in the AL West)
-Carlos Gomez: Released by the club after 126 games
-Mike Fiers: 4+ ERA in 3 seasons with the club

Brewers                                                    -Lowest payroll in baseball, 63-59 in 2017 (1.5 GB in the NL Central)                                          -Adrian Houser: Injured, struggling in AA
-Brett Phillips: Club’s #12 prospect and has spent time up with the Brewers this year
-Josh Hader: ERA under 1, #1 left handed pitching prospect going into the 2017 campaign
-Domingo Santana: Club’s everyday right fielder, leadoff or 4 hitter most days

All teams involved can rejoice, but the team that has benefitted the most from the 2015 trade deadline has been the Milwaukee Brewers. Wilmer Flores may be having a career year for the Mets; however, Brewer fans owe him and his ball club a thank you for keeping his services. Without them declining the Gomez trade, the Brewers would not have their right fielder and top end left handed reliever this year along with a possible future starting outfielder. Only time will tell what the full return will be for the Brewers, but in the end, thank you, Wilmer Flores.