80.6 F
Milwaukee
Monday, June 18th 2018
Home Crew

Crew

CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

Five Potential Brewers Draft Picks

The annual MLB draft is almost upon us, and with that a chance for the Brewers to solidify their farm system. At the spot the Brewers sit in the draft (#21) it is expected that they will take the best player available rather than try any fancy draft pool manipulation. Here are five players I think the Brewers could target with their first pick. When looking at prospects it is fairly important to not focus on current Major League needs as the average first rounder takes over 3 seasons to make it to the majors. The Brewers farm as currently composed has depth across the board and a lot of talent at the top, that said I would expect their first round pick tonight to instantly become a top ten prospect for the Crew upon his signing.

 

Kumar Rocker, RHP

A 6’5” high school pitcher who has touched 98 with his fastball. Rocker has loads of projectability as he fills out his frame. Entering his senior year there was thought that he could be a top 10 pick, but his senior numbers were a little less than ideal. The sample size for a high school pitcher is not great though and Rocker has all the tools you want from a pitcher. High school pitchers might be the draft pick with the highest risk, but a pitcher with Rocker’s current talent level rarely makes it into the college ranks. He might not make the majors until 2023, but his upside is definitely tantalizing.

 

Tristan Pompey, OF

Pompey played the last three seasons for the University of Kentucky, after being drafted in the 31st round out of highschool he looks like a lock to be selected in the first two rounds. A switch hitting 6’4” outfielder who posted good college numbers potentially available at 21, what’s the catch? Well Pompey is a good athlete, his arm strength might make his future in the outfield questionable. Well he has the size to play first-base it would make his bat much less valuable.

 

Brice Turang, SS

Turang is a pedigree shortstop, prior to his senior season he was thought to be a guy who goes ten spots higher, but now seems like he might be available for the Brewers at 21. He has the tools to stick at shortstop and has great speed. His biggest flaw is that he lacks standout power in his bat, and is more of a contact hitter. Of course he is only 18 and he will likely fill out his frame and add some, plus he will likely spend the next five years in the minors adjusting his swing to be more effective. His defense at shortstop is considered good for his age group, so really it will be his bat that determines his ceiling.

 

Jackson Kowar, RHP

The University of Florida standout could be a good selection for the Brewers this evening. The right hander sits in the low 90s with his fastball with good movement, currently throws a three pitch mix with a changeup and curveball being the the other two components. His changeup is already considered plus, but his curveball is inconsistent. The key for him will be developing that curveball to complement his heater and changeup. The Brewers have not taken a college arm in the first round since they took both Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann in 2011 neither of whom lived up to their first round billing. (Nathan Kirby was a supplemental round pick)

 

Trevor Larnach, OF

The Oregon State standout has been often overshadowed in his career by teammate and likely top five pick Nick Madrigal, Larnach is a standout hitter in his own right. He has hit for power this year after a tweak to his swing, which has allowed him to become a more complete player at the plate. He already has shown good discipline at the plate with a good K:BB rate, hit for high average and on-base percentage as a junior at Oregon State. Not a speed threat which will limit him to a corner outfield slot, but does have a good enough arm to play either field.

 

The 2018 MLB Draft gets underway this evening at 6pm CST, the Brewers will make three total selection tonight at 21, 60, and 73.

Keston Hiura is a Hitting Machine

When the Brewers selected Keston Hiura with the 9th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, there were many questions surrounding him as a prospect.

“What position will he play?”

“Is he just a DH?”

“Will he need Tommy John surgery?”

Despite all the noise, there was one thing no one questioned: the legitimacy of his hitting ability. As a college junior, he hit .442/.567/.693 with 8 home runs, 24 doubles, and 42 RBIs for the UC-Irvine Anteaters. With the MLB draft approaching, it was clear that he was a surefire first-round pick. The uncertainty laid in where he ultimately would be selected.

Some had him pegged as a top-5 pick. Others predicted him falling to the 20s, thinking teams would shy away from his injured arm. At #9, the Brewers thought process likely went as such: “We could take a guy with 5-tool potential across the board, or a someone who we are sure has a bat that will get him to the big leagues.” With drafting Hiura, the direction they decided to take is clear. They wanted what was closest to a “sure thing”.

In just under a year of professional baseball, Hiura has already spanned four levels of the minor leagues. He started last year at Rookie-Level Arizona before being promoted to the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. In total, he hit .371/.422/.611, cementing his status as being the “real deal”. This year, he started out slowly at Class-A Advanced Carolina before going on a tear in the month of May, leading to his recent promotion to Double-A Biloxi. With Carolina, he hit a slick .320/.382/.529 with 7 home runs on the heels of his .377/.437/.664 May slash line.

Hiura’s hitting prowess is unmatched in the Brewers’ minor league system. The Brewers’ pipeline is filled with hitters that either have low-contact and high-power or vice versa. Two examples of this mismatch are Double-A first baseman Jake Gatewood and Triple-A shortstop Mauricio Dubon (now injured). Both have limited ceilings because of the one-sided nature of their offensive game. Hiura, on the other hand, presents the whole package. He grades out as having an elite hit tool, while possessing at least average power at maturity with the potential for more. In addition, he is expected to further develop his plate discipline which will make him a high-level on base threat. Strikeouts aren’t an issue either – he currently carries a 20.6% rate on the season, which is very palatable in today’s game. He should continue to improve in this area as well as he becomes more accustomed with professional pitching, and could ultimately settle in the 13-15% range.

Now to the two questions everyone wants the answers to – where will he play in the field, and when does he get to Milwaukee? The answer to the first question could take many routes, but the most likely is second base. His arm issues are concerning, but as long as he can keep it in playable condition he will be fine. The worst-case scenario would be recurring pain and/or injury that keeps him out of the line-up, which would likely necessitate a trade eventually to an AL team where he could DH. Some have floated the possibility of him playing left field, but I cannot see that happening with the Brewers’ current outfield plethora, along with some impressive prospects that will be ascending to the big-league club at the same time.

The answer to the second question is much simpler: He will get to Milwaukee when he’s ready. David Stearns and Co. have proven to be adept at determining when a player can take the leap from Triple-A. There is a reason we haven’t seen Corbin Burnes make a start yet, just like there’s a reason Freddy Peralta was sent back down to Triple-A. They require seasoning so that when they do make that leap, they are in the best possible position to succeed and contribute. Accordingly, Hiura is not going to be rushed to the big leagues even though the Brewers’ middle infield has been futile offensively. If Hiura proves to be too advanced for the Double-A level come the end of July, we could see him promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs for the remainder of the season. However, I believe there is close to a zero-percent chance he makes it to Milwaukee before the end of this year. Even though his bat could potentially have some success currently, he still needs much more development defensively before he is major-league ready.

Hiura could be a big name in Milwaukee for many years – but that ride is not yet ready to begin. When it does, it could be something truly special.

So be patient, Brewers Nation. Keston Hiura – the hitting machine – will soon enough be coming to a ballpark near you.

The Curious Case of Milwaukee Jeremy Jeffress

Jeremy Jeffress has had an interesting career up until now. Jeremy was the 16th overall pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006. However, Jeremy’s biggest struggle wasn’t on the field. He failed 3 drug tests with the last one resulting in a 100-game suspension in 2009. He’s been part of two of the biggest trades in Milwaukee Brewers history. The first trade netted the Brewers a true ace in Zack Greinke, but unfortunately for the Brewers they gave away a huge package of Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress. However, Jeffress didn’t live up to his billing in KC and they DFA’d him November 2, 2012. He was traded to the Blue Jays for cash on November 8, 2012.

               His stay in Toronto was short and rocky as well. Jeremy was DFA’d on April 6, 2013 after making only one appearance for Toronto. He cleared waivers and was send down to AAA affiliate the Buffalo Bisons. He didn’t pitch a game for the Bisons before he was sent down to Class A Dunedin Blue Jays. However, less than a week later he was recalled by the Bisons before he was made a September call-up. The next season he was DFA’d again, but this time he chose free agency over joining the Bisons again.

               Jeremy made his first return to Milwaukee on a minor league contract. He was assigned to the Nashville Sounds. July 21, 2014 Jeremy donned the Brewers uniform again. He shined setting up then Brewers closer Francisco (K-rod) Rodriguez. He had an excellent 1.88 ERA and a miniscule WHIP 0f 1.186. He also curtailed his walk issues that haunted him elsewhere with a walk rate of 2.2 per 9 innings. He pitched extremely well the next season, making 72 appearances for the Crew. Boasting an ERA of 2.65 and striking out a shade under 9 per 9 innings. The next season he emerged as the Brewers closer and thrived in that role. He had 27 saves in 28 opportunities. Sadly, Jeremy was a part of another Brewers blockbuster as we shipped him and Jonathan Lucroy to Texas for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a PTBNL (Ryan Cordell).

               He made 12 appearances and posted a solid 2.70 ERA to finish of that season. Yet again the good times didn’t last, and Jeremy struggled yet again outside of Milwaukee. In 2017 Jeremy made 39 appearances with Texas and posted an abysmal 5.31 ERA and a sky high 1.671 WHIP. Not to mention another struggle off the field for Jeremy as he was arrested for DWI August 26, 2016. He then went to alcohol rehab and threw against a padded wall daily during in-patient treatment. He then vowed to stay clean for good. Later the next season Texas was falling out of contention and traded Jeremy to a surging young team in hopes of snapping a long playoff drought. He was back in Milwaukee and again returned at a very low price. David Stearns swung a deal to bring back the veteran for minor league pitcher Tayler Scott.

               He was back home 1 year after being shipped out for the second time, and I think I can speak for most Brewers fans by saying it was awesome, and borderline emotional. There’s always been a great support system for Jeremy here. He’s been outstanding in every stint he’s had in Milwaukee. Not to mention he was just what that team needed. The additions of he and Anthony Swarzak were huge for a bullpen that had struggled all year and was on the verge of making a run into the playoffs. They proved to be stabilizing forces in the pen, however the team didn’t quite have enough to make the playoffs and fell 1 game short.

               Enter this year… The Brewers made huge moves by signing Matt Albers, Jhoulys Chacin, and Lorenzo Cain. They also made a blockbuster trade acquiring Christian Yelich. The irony of all this being that we bring back Lo Cain and trading Lewis Brinson who was the centerpiece in the Lucroy Jeffress deal for Christian Yelich. This team came with a ton of expectations and that included expectations for this bullpen. With an All-Star closer, flame-throwing lefty, and several other high leverage capable relivers. At the center of all of it was Jeremy Jeffress, he was looked at as a potential high leverage reliver and potential setup man to All-Star Corey Knebel. He also added a split-change to his repertoire. A pitch that has proved lethal in Jeremy’s best season to date. He’s posted a superb ERA of 0.33 and retired 18 of 20 inherited runners. Including a no outs base loaded mess against the Marlins in which he escaped unscathed. He’s been fooling hitters all year and has escaped from the scariest of situations.

               He’s been arguably the best reliever in statistically the best bullpen in the league. Jeremy has been everything the Brewers could have asked for and more. What he’s doing may not be as sexy as all of Josh Hader’s strikeouts, but he’s been just as unhittable. No matter how you view it without yet another frugal move by David Stearns the complexion of this season would be much different without Jeremy Jeffress in the back half of that bullpen. Jeremy has pitched so well he deserves to be an All-Star, and not only that he deserves much more attention than what he’s gotten. He’s doing something special and everyone needs to take notice. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I couldn’t be happier that Jeremy Jeffress is not only back in Milwaukee, but he’s thriving too.      

Top 5 Most Valuable Brewers So Far In 2018

Exactly two months removed from Opening Day on March 29th, the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place in the National League. While the team’s success has been a complete team effort, it is still important to recognize and praise the individual players who have been most valuable and leading the way. Factors that determine these rankings will include Wins Above Replacement (WAR), RBI, ERA, and OPS, among others. The first two players listed are honorable mentions followed by the top 5 most valuable Brewers thus far in the 2018 season.

 

Honorable Mention #1: SP Jhoulys Chacin

2018 Stats: Record: 3-1, ERA: 3.69, GS: 12, SO: 45, WHIP: 1.326

 

Chacin’s numbers aren’t extremely eye-popping, however, he qualifies as an honorable mention on this list because of his solid and steady presence in a Brewers rotation that has fallen victim to injury and ineffectiveness at times this season. The Milwaukee Brewers have found success this season while not having a true ace, and Chacin has been a key part of a pitching staff that has slightly overperformed compared to most people’s expectations this season. Perhaps most notably regarding Chacin, he has outperformed some of the hot starting pitching commodities this offseason that other clubs overpaid for, specifically Lance Lynn of the Twins, Yu Darvish of the Cubs and Alex Cobb of the Orioles.

 

 

Honorable Mention #2: 1B/OF Ryan Braun

2018 Stats: WAR: 0.1, BA: .245, HR: 5, RBI: 22, OPS: .728

Image result for ryan braun 2018

    Longtime Brewer Ryan Braun makes this list as an honorable mention largely because of his knack for coming up with big-time clutch hits when the Brewers have needed it most. He is single-handedly responsible for three Brewers victories already this season via walk-off or game-winning hits. Specifically, a game-winning home run in San Diego during the season’ first series, a walk-off blast against the Cardinals shortly after, and then a clutch two-run double against Pittsburgh that proved to be the difference in the game. He recently came off the disabled list for a minor back injury and has looked solid upon returning capped by a three-hit game on May 28th hitting out of the number 5 spot in the order, which is rare for Braun who almost exclusively hits 3rd. Hopefully, Braun is able to find his power stroke again shortly and provide an offensive boost in addition to his obvious clubhouse leadership.

 

Most Valuable Brewer #5: OF Christian Yelich

2018 Stats: WAR: 1.4, BA: .310, HR: 6, RBI: 24, OPS: .859

 

Christian Yelich’s value lies primarily in the fact that he is a true 5-tool talent and while he may not excel in one specific stat category, he is absolutely serviceable in all of them. He hits occasional home runs, steals bases, hits for average, and is a Gold Glove outfielder who can play all three outfield positions well. Batting mostly in the 2nd spot in the lineup, Yelich leads the team in batting average at .310 and is second in hits (53) behind Lorenzo Cain (54) despite spending time on the disabled list for an oblique injury in April. Yelich has been as consistently reliable as any Brewers position player thus far in 2018, and he is capable of even more.

 

Most Valuable Brewer #4: 1B Jesus Aguilar

2018 Stats: WAR: 1.1, BA: .315, HR: 9, RBI: 30, OPS: .957

If this article was discussing the most valuable Brewers during the month of May, the 27-year-old first baseman would most likely occupy the top spot. He has been an absolute stud in Eric Thames’ absence and is making it impossible for manager Craig Counsell to keep his bat out of the lineup. 8 of his 9 home runs this season have come in the month of May. If he had been the everyday starter from Opening Day, he would likely be closing in on his first career all-star game appearance based on the numbers he has been able to put up when starting.

Going into the season, it was tough to determine how many at-bats Aguilar would obtain due to Ryan Braun getting starts at first base in addition to Thames. With that being said, credit David Stearns for not immediately deeming Aguilar irrelevant due to that circumstance. This breakout season for Aguilar does not seem anything like a fluke, and Brewers fans everywhere should be extremely eager to watch him continue to make a name for himself in Major League Baseball.

 

Most Valuable Brewer #3: CF Lorenzo Cain

2018 Stats: WAR: 2.8, BA: .289, HR: 6, RBI: 16, OPS: .840

The Brewers are absolutely seeing the player they thought they were going to see when they signed Lorenzo Cain to a 5-year, 80 million dollar contract last offseason in January. He has shown tremendous aptitude in getting on base out of the leadoff spot that he has occupied in the majority of the Brewers’ games so far this season. In addition to leading the team in on-base percentage (.396), he also paces the team in Wins Above Replacement, Stolen Bases (11), and runs scored (35). It has been an all-star level season for an all-star level player, and the Crew will benefit from his postseason experience to help them in a potential playoff run that looks more and more likely by the day. 

 

Most Valuable Brewer #2: RP Josh Hader

2018 Stats: Record: 2-0, ERA: 1.15, G: 18, SO: 62, WHIP: 0.574

It’s safe to say that southpaw Josh Hader has been the biggest surprise for the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers and arguably all of baseball with his exceptional ability to get opposing batters to swing and miss on his fastball and make them look foolish in the process.

Manager Craig Counsell has used Hader similarly to how Terry Francona used reliever Andrew Miller during the Indians’ 2016 World Series run, which consists of putting him in usually in the 7th or 8th inning and then letting him go for the save as well if the situation makes sense. Hader was originally thought of as a starter coming up in the Brewers minor league system but has clearly found a home in the bullpen. The reason he is second on this list is that the Brewers are a staggering 18-0 in games where Hader toes the rubber. Even Craig Counsell has been in awe of what Hader has been able to do this season, saying: “Literally, your mouth is kind of wide-open watching it. It was absolutely incredible.” following Josh Hader’s outing in Cincinnati on April 30th. The fact that Hader is just 24 years old should send chills down the spines of NL Central foes for years to come.

 

Most Valuable Brewer #1: 3B Travis Shaw

2018 Stats: WAR: 2.5, BA: .260, HR: 13, RBI: 36, OPS: .882

Travis Shaw, a.k.a. “The Mayor of Ding-Dong City” has followed up his breakout 2017 season with more of the same elite production and then some. For consecutive seasons now, Shaw has been the Brewers’ best run producer and top home run hitter out of the cleanup spot in the batting order. In addition to the offensive production, Shaw has played a very solid third base so far in his tenure in Milwaukee. Last season, he committed just 9 errors in 144 games, and thus far in 2018 he only has 3. Unbiasedly, Travis Shaw should absolutely represent the Brewers at the All-Star game this July and begin gaining more respect as one of the National League’s elite third basemen.

Brewers vs Mets Series Recap 5/24-5/27

The Brewers welcomed the New York Mets for a four-game series over the Memorial holiday weekend. Both ball clubs entered the weekend in the middle of tight divisional races, with the Brewers sitting in first place in the National League Central just ahead of the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates while the Mets entered just behind the Braves, Nationals and Phillies in the National League East. After taking five of seven games against the Mets in 2017, the Brewers looked to rally to take the season series against the Mets for 2018. The Mets won two of three games against the Brewers at Citi Field back in April.

Thursday, May 24th- Mets 5, Brewers 0

The series got off to a slow start as the Brewers found their offense going ice cold while getting shut out for the ninth time in 2018. Brewers starting pitcher Zach Davies, made his first start in three and a half weeks after coming off the DL. Davies’ lasted only four innings giving up four runs on six hits and two walks. Mets’ left fielder Branon Nimmo tore up the Brewers reaching base five times including two doubles, a triple, single and a walk while scoring twice. The Mets’ starting pitcher Steven Matz shut down the Brewers allowing only three hits over six innings while getting 13 hits worth of support from the Mets’ lineup.

Friday, May 25th– Brewers 4, Mets 3 (10 innings)

Going up against the Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard, Travis Shaw put the Brewers offense on his back in the Friday tilt of the series. Shaw went 3-4 at the plate, with a home run and a double and tallied three RBI. Brewers’ starter Junior Guerra had a quality start and reliever Josh Hader had another outstanding performance, striking out four in two innings of work. Brewers’ Corey Knebel suffered a blown save after giving up two walks and a game tying single to Jose Bautista. Jeremy Jeffress relived Knebel and pitched the final 1.1 innings and shut out the Mets’ with a little help from his defense in the form of a perfect throw from Domingo Santana to cut down Asdrubal Cabrera at second base.

In the bottom of the 10th inning with runners at first base and third base Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway brought in A.J. Ramos who proceeded to walk Hernan Perez on four pitches and then with a 3-1 count to Shaw, skipped his pitch in the dirt and Eric Sogard walked in for the win. With the win the Brewers improved to 4-1 in extra inning games.

Saturday, May 26th– Brewers 17, Mets 6

The Brewers put up one of the franchise’s finest offensive days on Saturday afternoon and it was needed as starter Chase Anderson got into trouble early and often before being removed by manager Craig Counsell after going 3.2 innings and giving up five runs. The Brewers bullpen came through allowing only one run the rest of the afternoon. The Brewers had nine players both score a run and drive a run in a single game for the first time in franchise history.

The Brewers totaled 19 hits, including two home runs, one by the streaking hot Jesus Aguilar and the other by new Brewers’ catcher Erik Kratz, who was acquired from the New York Yankees for cash or a player to be named later on Friday. Lorenzo Cain reached base safely five times (Double, two singles and two walks) while Aguilar, Christian Yelich and Hernan Perez each added three RBI in the onslaught.

The Brewers win put them a season high 13 games above .500. The 17 runs were the largest offensive output since an 18-1 win over the Cubs in Chicago on August 2, 2010 and tied the most runs for the team at Miller Park since a 17-3 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 26, 2010.

Sunday, May 27th– Brewers 8, Mets 7

The Brewers secured their fifth straight series win in front of a sold-out Miller Park crowd on Travis Shaw “Mayor of Ding Dong City” bobblehead day. Aguilar got the Brewers on the scoreboard in the first inning with an RBI single but the Mets got to Brewers’ starter Jhoulys Chacin in the second inning and put up four runs on the board. However, Aguilar saved the day again with a three-run home run into the left field stands to tie the game up at four runs apiece. After roughing up the Mets’ bullpen on Saturday, the Crew got to them again Sunday after falling behind 6-4.

In the seventh inning Shaw got the scoring going blooping a single to center which scored Yelich and was followed by Santana who popped a double down the right field line to score Aguilar and Shaw and put the Brewers ahead 7-6. Villar came up next and hit a double to right to score Santana and add a much-needed insurance run.

In the ninth closer Corey Knebel was called upon and surrendered a lead off home run to pinch hitter Devin Mesoraco to bring the game to within one run, but Knebel settled down to close out the game striking out the final two Mets after giving up a one out walk, to put a cap on the series win.

Notes:

  • The win on Sunday also clinched the season series against the Mets, 4-3. The Brewers won back to back season series against the Mets for the first time since 2013-2014.
  • The Brewers, winners of six of seven games during the homestand, welcome their rival St. Louis Cardinals for three games before departing again for an eight game, three city road trip against the rebuilding Chicago White Sox, AL Central leading Cleveland Indians and surprising Philadelphia Phillies.
  • Milwaukee holds the best record in the National League (34-20) through the first third of the season. The sixth time in 50 seasons as a franchise – though the third time in the past five years the team was in first place on Memorial Day.
  • The Brewers’ bullpen has an MLB best 2.49 ERA with 10.24 strikeouts per nine innings.

A look back at the off-season Pitching Frenzy

Jhoulys Chacin is a 30 year-old starting pitcher from Venezuela. This is his 10th season in the big leagues. He’s pitched primarily in the NL west in his career, but also spent a season between Atlanta and Los Angeles of the Angel variety. He’s had a very interesting career up until this point. At times he looks like a top of the rotation starter and at times he looks like a swing guy in the bullpen. Jhoulys can boast a strong 4.21 ERA at Coors field in his career, you also must look at his stellar 1.79 ERA and 0.977 WHIP at Petco Park last year. That’s the good, but the bad can’t be ignored. Outside of Petco Park he was atrocious last year claiming an ERA of 6.53 and a nauseating 1.638 WHIP.

 Whatever those numbers tell you or me, David Stearns liked enough of what he saw to bring him in to help this rotation giving him a 2-year 15.5-million-dollar contract. To the surprise of others this was the only “major” starting pitcher move the Brewers made this off-season, even though this was seen as the weakest spot on the roster. There was a “Big 4” to most in the starting pitching market. That “Big 4” consisted of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn. Not signing one of these guys was frowned upon by the baseball pundits, but that doesn’t matter to David Stearns he was comfortable with what he had. However, the season started off rocky for the veteran right-hander. In his old stomping grounds of Petco Park Jhoulys couldn’t even make it out of the 4th. He gave up 4ER 7 hits and walked 2 in only 3 1/3. Next up was divisional foe St. Louis… this start was just as rough, this time he made it into the 6th, however 6 runs came across and 3 were earned. The next start after that happened to be against St. Louis, but this time it was in St. Louis. He only gave up 3 runs, all of which were earned. The main problem with his first few starts were how horrifically inefficient they were. In all 3 starts he couldn’t make it out of the 6th. His inefficiency hit a peak in a game in New York against the Mets when it took him 85 pitches to get through 4 innings. The Mets only managed 1 run against him, but this game really hurt the bullpen. Now you can’t judge a season based on 4 games, but this looked to be all of Brewers fans worst nightmares coming true and this being a flop signing.

               Thankfully for Jhoulys the season is longer than 4 games. After the game against the Mets he really turned a corner. Back at Miller Park against the floundering Marlins Jhoulys made it through 6 innings allowing 4 hits and no runs. And he keeps going strong after that with very solid starts in 5 of his last 6. The crown jewel being against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona where he went 7 strong innings only giving up 2 hits and 1 run. This game was not only the game he went the deepest in, but also the game he looked the best. His slider looked nasty, he had good control, and he worked very efficiently throwing only 96 pitches to get through the 7 innings. That’s just under 14 pitches per inning. He’s had an eye-popping ERA of 2.29 in his last 8 starts. And his season totals at an ERA of 3.32 and a WHIP of 1.3.16.  This was undoubtably what Stearns had in mind when he brought Jhoulys and only Jhoulys in.

               Let’s look at how the “Big 4” has fared to this point in the season. Starting with Yu Darvish who received the largest contract of the 4. He received a 6-year 126-million-dollar contract from the Chicago Cubs. Up to now this looks like a colossal overpay and a bullet dodged by the Brewers. Now there have been times where we’ve seen the filthy Yu Darvish, but he doesn’t look like the kind of guy who’s AAV will be 21 million per year until he’s 37. Yu has accumulated a WAR of -0.4, an ERA of 4.95, and a WHIP of 1.425. This contract was too much for the Brewers to swallow and at the moment looks like a potential blessing.

               We next step to see Jake Arrieta who had the largest AAV at 25 million a year for 3 years. Jake was the guy most feared signing the most, as it was known he wanted the most and had a declining fastball at age 32. However, he’s been by far the best of these 4 guys. He’s been a steadying force in a young Phillies rotation, and has helped the surge to the top of the NL East. He’s posted a 2.45 ERA and a WHIP of 1.149, with a healthy WAR of 1.4. Most were to scared to sign him and now the only thing they’re scared of is having to face this ace who looks to be holding strong at 32.

               Next, we’ll look at the smallest contract of the 4. Lance Lynn was given a 1-year 12 million-dollar contract from the Minnesota Twins. At first glance most saw this as a steal for Minnesota, but it hasn’t panned out that way yet. He has a gigantic ERA of 6.34 and a WHIP of 1.864 to match. The worst part of this for Minnesota is he hasn’t lived up to the billing as an innings eater. In 9 starts he’s only managed to get through 44 innings. This isn’t what Minnesota had in mind, but like I said you can’t judge a season this early.

               Finally, the last guy to sign Alex Cobb. Cobb was given a 3-year 45 million-dollar contract by the Baltimore Orioles. Alex Cobb has been scary, but not the good kind. He’s posted an ERA of 7.32 and a WHIP of 1.932. He’s gotten rocked just about every time out and at this point I think it’s safe to stop blaming it on rust. He’s only managed to strike out 22 in 39 1/3 innings. There’s no doubt he can turn things around over the life of the contract, but things don’t look good at the moment.

               The Brewers needed to address their starting rotation in the off-season and they did, just not in a sexy way that most around baseball thought they would. They handled it like they’ve handled most things in the Stearns era… frugally. This has been one of those under the radar signings that’s really helped the team on the field and the team’s wallet. Bringing in a big named starter would have been fun, but they all have either drastically underperformed, or wanted too much for such a small-market team. So looking back on it not only did we get an effective starting pitcher, but we got him for pennies on the dollar compared to the big named guys, who by the way he’s outperforming most of.

Brewers Moves: Arcia Sent Down

The Brewers have been busy today.  If you have not seen it yet, here are the transactions made by the organization this morning per Tom Haudricourt:

  • Optioned to Class AAA Colorado Springs:
    • Orlando Arcia, SS
      • 44 Games, .194 BA, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 6 Errors in 2018
    • Jorge Lopez, RHP
      • 10.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 8 K, 6 BB in 2018 with Milwaukee
      • 11.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 7 K, 2 BB, 4 SV in 2018 with Colorado Springs (AAA)
  • Designated for Assignment
    • Jett Bandy, C
      • 84 Games, .202 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI in 2 years with Milwaukee
  • Recalled from Class AAA Colorado Springs
    • Eric Sogard, INF
      • 28 Games, .100 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 Errors in 2018 with Milwaukee
      • 11 Games, .229 BA, 0 HR, 7 RBI in 2018 with Colorado Springs (AAA)
  • Recalled from Class AA Biloxi
    • Adrian Houser, RHP
      • 2.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 3 K, 0 BB in 2018 with Milwaukee
      • 26.2 IP, 4.73 ERA, 30 K, 7 BB in 2018 with Biloxi (AA)
  • Acquired from the New York Yankees for a Player to be Named Later or Cash
    • Erik Kratz, C
      • 17 Games, .269 BA, 4 HR, 6 RBI in 2018 with Scranton (AAA)
      • 228 Games, .203 BA, 24 HR, 75 RBI in 9 year MLB career

The Brewers are looking for highly-touted shortstop, Orlando Arcia, to gain some confidence at the plate while in Colorado Springs.  While he is down there, the hope is Eric Sogard can summon some of the “Nerd Power” he mustered up in 2017. Jett Bandy seemingly been an automatic out at the plate and the Brewers decided to go a different route by acquiring 37-year old catcher, Erik Kratz, from the Yankees. Catching prospect Jacob Nottingham is injured which caused the organization to look in a different direction. The short stint Houser had with the Brewers was successful based on the stats listed above and was enough for the Brewers to make the change from Jorge Lopez in the already effective bullpen.

 

Feel free to comment below or tweet @CreamCityCtrl with your reactions to the transactions.

Brewers v. DBacks Series Recap 5/21-5/23

The Brewers returned to Miller Park on Monday following an impressive 7-3 road trip. They faced a familiar foe in the Diamondbacks, a team they took 2 of 3 from during the 10 game road trip. The Crew continued their hot play with a sweep of the Dbacks. The Diamondbacks are not very good offensively right now. Their perennial MVP candidate is hitting .200 and their stud centerfield AJ Pollack is on the DL. They won’t be this bad on offense all year, so now is the time to face them.

The Brewers faced an old friend in game one. Former Brewers ace Zack Greinke was on the mound for the Dbacks and he didn’t have his usual Miller Park success. He did strike out nine Brewers over six innings, but gave up homeruns to Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, and Lorenzo Cain. His final line was 6ip, 4er, 0bb, and 9k. Chase Anderson was solid in his first start coming off the DL. His final line was 6ip, 2er, 3bb, and 3k. Albers, Jeffress, and Knebel didn’t allow anything after Chase left the game and the Brewers would take game one 4-2.

Game two was a pitchers duel. Both teams combined for seven hits and just one run. The Brewers got a sac fly from Domingo Santana off Matt Koch in the sixth inning and that was all the Brewers would need. Chacin, Albers, Hader, and Knebel would combine for a three hit shutout.

Game three started out as a close game, but one big inning for the Crew ended that. Spot starter extraordinaire, Brent Suter was solid again. He gave up two solo homers to Goldschmidt and Murphy in the second inning and that was it. He went 5.2ip, 2r, 2bb, and 6k. The Crew trailed 2-1 going into the fourth inning. They were up 8-2 after the fourth. The big blow was a three-run homer from Travis Shaw. Tyler Saladino would add a solo homerun in the 7th to make it a 9-2 final.

The Brewers are 31-19, their best 50 game start in franchise history. The Mets come into town for a four game series this weekend. The last time the Brewers saw the Mets in New York; they had the best record in the NL and took 2 of 3 from the Crew. Now they are currently 24-20, third place in the NL East. The Brewers will miss Jacob DeGrom, but will face Syndergaard on Friday. Lets hope the Brewers can keep it rolling with seven games left on this home stand.

Brewers @ Twins Series Recap 5/18-5/20

The back end of the Milwaukee Brewers 10 game, 11-day, 3 city road trip brought them to Minneapolis to battle the Twins. The Twins took all four games from the Brewers last season, but the new look Brew Crew, came into the weekend after taking series victories in Colorado and Arizona. All three teams the Brewers faced on the road trip made the playoffs in 2017 and with the Brewers eyes set on this October, they also looked to accomplish something a Brewers team had not done since 1996, sweep the Twins in Minnesota.

Friday, May 18th- Brewers 8, Twins 3

The Brewers opened the three-game set at Target Field with the news that Ryan Braun would be placed on the 10-day disabled list with a back injury. The roster opening made way for Ji-Man Choi to be recalled up from AAA Colorado Springs for his first appearance with the Brewers since Opening Day in San Diego.  It did not take long for Choi to make his mark as in his first at-bat in the second inning he took Twins’ SP Kyle Gibson deep for a home run over the left-center field fence to put the Brewers on the board first.

The hits continued to come for the Brewers who racked up 15 total hits in the game which included two more home runs from Jesus Aguilar who has been on absolute tear and finished the night 3-4 from the plate with three RBI. Brent Suter started the game and got the win for the Brewers pitching an effective 5.2 innings with six strikeouts and only one run on five hits.

Saturday, May 19th- Brewers 5, Twins 4

The stage was set for Brewers young-in Freddy Peralta to make his second start and the follow up from his mesmerizing game on Mother’s Day which he struck out 13 and gave up only one hit in Colorado. While the control was off from the start and Peralta found himself in trouble early and often. Aguilar led the scoring with a sac fly that scored Lorenzo Cain in the first inning and follow it up with yet another home run to tie the game back up at 2-2 in the fourth. The lead would not last long however as Twins’ outfielder, Jake Cave, making his major league debut lined a two-run home run into the right field bleachers to give Minnesota a 4-2.

The Brewers answered quickly in the top of the fifth as Manny Pina doubled home Jonathan Villar and then scored with two outs on a wild pitch by Twins’ starting pitcher Fernando Romero. After two scoreless frames the final tally on the board for the night belonged to the Brewers in the form of a Christian Yelich 409-foot blast into the left field bleachers to put the Crew ahead for good.

Josh Hader finished it from there. After relieving Jeremy Jeffress to get Max Keppler to ground out to end the seventh inning Hader then worked his magic to finish the ballgame. Hader struck out the side in order in the eighth and then after giving up a leadoff walk to start the ninth then proceeded to strike out the side, leaving Byron Buxton stranded at first and giving the Brewers the series’ clinching victory.

Sunday, May 20th- Twins 3, Brewers 1

Former Brewers prospect Jake Odorizzi, who was dealt to Kansas City in the Zack Greinke traded shut down the Brewers. Aguilar hit his 4th home run of the series, a solo shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth inning but that was all the Brewers offense could muster. Twins first baseman Logan Morrison hit a two-run double off the top of the right field wall to give the Twins the deciding 3-1 advantage. Boone Logan walked the three of the first four batters to start the inning, which never bodes well. While the Brewers bats succumbed to 17 strikeouts and didn’t’ give their pitching staff any help in the Sunday loss as the team looked forward to their upcoming 10 game home stand at the friendly confines of Miller Park.

Notes:

  • The 7-3 mark on the road trip was the best 10+ game road trip record was tied for the third best in team history behind an 11-1 trip in 1973 and an 8-2 mark in 1988.
  • Milwaukee will host the Twins for a three-game set July 2-4th.
  • Following the six-strikeout performance by Josh Hader on Saturday, he now has 56 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings.
  • Jesus Aguilar finished the series going 6-11 from the plate with 4 HR and 6 RBI to raise his season stat line to .333 BA, 7 HR and 20 RBI.

Milwaukee Brewers Retrospective: A Look Back on some of David Stearns’ Best and Worst Trades as Brewers GM

 

     Being a small market franchise, the Milwaukee Brewers have historically had to rely heavily on trades to acquire major talent to help them compete at the highest level possible. We saw this in December of 2010 when former GM Doug Melvin made a splash in trading for CY Young award winner Zack Greinke from the Kansas City Royals for a slew of prospects, along with other similar deals.

    Shifting to David Stearns’ tenure as the Brewers’ general manager, the young Harvard graduate has already pulled off a number of large-scale trades that have accelerated the Brewers’ post -2014 rebuild. Starting on a positive note, let’s highlight some of those deals and how they have worked out for the Brewers. Some are easier to judge than others, but for the most part, the sample size is large enough to determine a winner and a loser of the deals.

 

2016-17 offseason- Brewers receive Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington from Red Sox  in exchange for Tyler Thornburg

 

    As we speak, this deal has been 100% one-sided because Tyler Thornburg has yet to throw a pitch in a Red Sox uniform due to injury woes. With that being said though, it is still fair to say that the Brewers are the clear winners of the trade because of the amount of production they have gotten from Travis Shaw since he arrived in the Cream City. Last season, Shaw was the Brewers’ best player and boasted all-star caliber numbers to the tune of 31 home runs and 101 RBIs while playing a solid third base. Thus far in the 2018 season, Shaw has again been arguably the Brewers’ best hitter. In addition to the great production that Shaw has provided, infield prospect Mauricio Dubon was swinging an extremely hot bat and seemed to be on the verge of a call-up to the major league club before just recently tearing his ACL. This trade is already lopsided, and if Dubon is able to reach his potential, the gap will continue to grow. Another win for the Brewers here.

 

 

  • 2016-17 offseason: Brewers receive Jett Bandy from the Angels in exchange for Martin Maldonado

 

    This swap of catchers that the Brewers and Angels pulled off prior to the start of the 2017 season has proved to be the antithesis of other David Stearns trades. When this deal was made, the goal for Milwaukee was to be able to have more offense coming from the catcher position with Jonathan Lucroy out of town. That hasn’t been the case whatsoever because aside from a few good moments, Bandy has been ineffective at the plate. Last year, he batted just .207 and managed only 18 RBIs and was eventually demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs. And this season has been unfortunately more of the same for the 28-year-old backstop.

     As for Martin Maldonado, he has blossomed with his change of scenery and capped off a very strong 2017 season by winning an American League Gold Glove Award with the Angels of Anaheim. It is good to see Maldonado playing at a very high level, and the sting of this trade is balanced out by the fact that Manny Pina has been a stud both offensively and defensively as Milwaukee’s regular catcher, and has come up with some huge clutch hits for the team, most recently being a 9th inning game-tying home run off of Wade Davis in Colorado on the Brewers’ last road trip to cap off a 6-run comeback by the Crew.

 

  • January 25th, 2018: Brewers trade Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz, and Jordan Yamamoto to Marlins in exchange for Christian Yelich

    This trade is a perfect example of what David Stearns values most in terms of player acquisition: Team-friendly contracts and versatility. Even though he has only played 29 games as a Brewer, outfielder Christian Yelich has quickly acclimated himself to the style of play that the Brewers are trying to adopt; being active on the bases and cutting down on strikeouts. Again an early sample size, but Yelich has definitely been the player the Brewers thought they were getting when they pulled off the trade for him.

      As for the major piece that the Brewers let go of in the Yelich deal, center fielder Lewis Brinson has struggled mightily out of the gates for Miami. One has to assume that Brinson will improve offensively with consistent at-bats, but the jury is still out on him as a potential franchise cornerstone.

     While not every deal that Stearns has made in his relatively brief tenure as the general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers has been entirely perfect, the larger scale ones have been the ones that have worked out which is all you can ask for from a young GM. And let’s be honest, the Travis Shaw trade is already one of the best made by any team in recent memory. All things considered, the David Stearns era is off to a fantastic start and a potential 2018 postseason run will only help him and his assembled ballclub gain respect and notoriety among the Major League Baseball community.