Brewers Week in Review: 4/24-4/30
4/24-4/26: vs. Cincinnati
Results: 11-7 W, 9-1 W, 9-4 W
Star of the Series: Hernan Perez (6-for-11 (.545), 2 HR, 8 RBI)
Recently, Orlando Arcia has looked to be fulfilling the top prospect status that he rode through the minor leagues. His scouting reports often lauded his future potential to be a .300 hitter in the MLB, making his ceiling that of a gold glove caliber shortstop with a plus hit tool and gap-to-gap power. By racking up hit after hit over recent weeks, Arcia has increased his batting average considerably. While he flirted up over .290 during this hot streak before the All-Star break, he now stands at a solid .283. The one big question: Is this streak legitimate, or luck? The cynic in me tends to lean towards the latter.
Looking at traditional statistics, it looks as though Arcia has figured it out. His average splits have risen steadily since his .247 mark at the end of April, improving to .256 and .326 in the months of May and June. He also improved his ability to hit for power, slugging .478 in June after a rather pedestrian .432 in April and an unsightly .311 in May.
Advanced statistics add the color between the lines to these numbers above. One important statistic in evaluating Arcia is Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). This measures the batting average of a hitter based solely upon the balls that he puts into the field of play. A groundout would count towards this average, while a strikeout would not. If a hitter only had the two outcomes of a base hit or a strikeout, his BABIP would be 1.000. BABIP depends on three main factors: the quality of contact, the quality of defense, and luck. With Arcia, it is easiest to focus on quality of contact, and from that we can interpret luck.
For April and May, Arcia sported a BABIP of .288 and .286, respectively. In June, that number rocketed up to .406; for those not proficient in mental math, that is an increase of .120. To experience an increase that large, a player must either be extremely lucky or have made extreme improvements. With Arcia, I believe that it unfortunately is due to luck more than ability.
The main reason why I am skeptical of Arcia’s elevated offense numbers is due to the quality of his contact. In April and May, he hit balls “hard” 27.4% and 31.7% of the time. In June, that dropped to 25.4%, and thus far in July, it is down to 23.3%. His soft contact, accordingly, increased from 24.1% in May to 28.2% in June. Simply put, Arcia may show flashes of improvement, but it is by no means definite. From this, we can attribute luck as being a significant part of his offensive surge. With a BABIP of .406, balls are falling in the right places, and it is certainly not always due to the hitter’s ability level. Unless there is a history of sustained success with a BABIP that high, it would be illogical to take it for anything more than what it is: a hot streak with a dollop of luck.
While his .283 batting average gives off the impression that Arica is an above average hitter, there is one more statistic to consider: Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+). This number measures a player’s offensive contributions compared to the rest of the league, with 100 being considered “average”. Arcia, with his .283 batting average, has a wRC+ of 87. This can mainly be credited due to his 5.4% walk rate and his .418 slugging percentage, both which are well below league average. He simply is not a constant offensive threat at this point in his career.
This article is not meant to say that there is no hope for Arcia and that he is a bad baseball player. That is not the objective of this piece. The purpose of this is to temper expectations for Arcia in the second half of the season. I hope I am completely wrong. I want the Orlando Arcia hype to be true, right here and right now. The Brewers deserve a franchise shortstop, and Arcia has shown flashes of having that potential. However, Arcia still has a way to go in his development as a hitter until he gets to the point where this level of play can be expected. The future is bright, but it has not yet arrived.
It’s that time of year again – baseball season. With Spring Training wrapping up and Opening Day less than a week away, the Brewers have some tough decisions to make in cutting down their roster to 25. While many spots are firmly spoken for, there are some questions remaining. Who will start at second? Will Jesus Aguilar make the roster? What does the starting rotation look like? Well Brewers fans, I have some (hopefully correct) answers for you! Let’s start by looking at the second base battle.
Starting Second Baseman:
The Candidates: Eric Sogard, Jonathan Villar
After a breakout 2016 season, Villar looked to be a future cornerstone for the Brewers. However, a rough 2017 muddied his potential role moving forward, with some fans calling for him to be let go in the offseason. Sogard was the complete opposite. Brought in as a minor league signing at the Triple-A level, he played his way up to the big-league squad by mid-May and was inserted into a platoon starting role for the remainder of the season. Sogard and Villar both offer defensive versatility with being able to play both positions up the middle, although Sogard is likely more highly regarded defensively.
This spring, the race between them to start at second base has been neck-and-neck. Both have been impressive at the plate, with Sogard slashing .286/.395/.571 and Villar keeping pace with a just as impressive .326/.383/.442. What’s even more impressive about Villar is that after striking out in over 30% of his plate appearances last year, he has dropped that number to 19% this spring in 47 plate appearances. While that is a very small sample size, it is an encouraging sign, nonetheless.
Prediction: There will most certainly be a platoon between the two of them, but I get the feeling that Villar will receive the “starting” job heading into the season. He has a much higher ceiling that Sogard, and if Villar can return to his 2016 form it adds an entirely different dimension to this already dangerous Brewers’ lineup.
The Locks: Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin
The Candidates: Junior Guerra, Brent Suter, Brandon Woodruff
Disabled List: Jimmy Nelson, Wade Miley
Anderson, Davies, and Chacin will man the 1-3 spots in the rotation, with all having the potential to post above-average numbers. Anderson looked to be a budding ace down the stretch in 2017, and it will be interesting to see if he can carry over that success. Davies and Chacin both can be inconsistent at times, but are solid 3/4 type pitchers when on top of their game.
After those three it gets really interesting. Wade Miley looked to have a rotation spot locked down after an impressive spring playing on a minor-league deal, but he suffered a groin injury in his final start. The Brewers have retained him, which will allow him to rehab in the minors before joining either the rotation or bullpen, should his rehab performances be successful.
Junior Guerra and Brent Suter are the most likely to fill the final two spots should the Brewers deploy a 5-man rotation. However, some have hinted that the Brewers may start the season with a four-man rotation, which would leave one of them as the odd-man out. If that is the case, I would guess that Guerra would fill the fourth spot, with Suter taking on a swingman role in the bullpen or being sent to Triple-A due to his remaining minor-league options and bullpen candidates’ Yovani Gallardo and Oliver Drake lack thereof. Guerra has been tearing it up in the spring, sporting a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings, as well as dominating in the winter league he participated in. The Brewers also could technically put Suter in the bullpen and use him to “piggyback” Guerra, much like they did with their bullpen down the stretch last season.
While Brandon Woodruff is a top prospect, he struggled to finish the year last year and showed his inexperience this spring, working to a 7.04 ERA in spring training. He will likely start the year in Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Prediction: Guerra as the fourth starter, with Suter headed to the bullpen.
The Locks: Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, Matt Albers, Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes
The Candidates: J.J. Hoover, Yovani Gallardo, Oliver Drake, Taylor Williams, Brent Suter
Disabled List: Boone Logan
Hader and Jeffress have especially stood out among the locks this spring, as they each achieved perfect ERAs of 0.00. Albers came in just behind them with a 1.17 ERA, and should be a solid mid-reliever on a very affordable deal. Barnes struggled to an unsightly 12.46 ERA in the spring, but the Brewers believe in his potential as a power reliever.
Filling the final three spots is where this gets interesting. Hoover is nearly a lock after spinning eight scoreless outings over the course of the spring. Gallardo is also likely going to make the team, as he provides value as a possible long reliever/spot starter. The interesting part about the final spot is that it could be taken by Suter if the Brewers decide to start with a four-man rotation, meaning both Drake and Williams could not make the team. If one of the two happen to be in San Diego for Opening Day, I would guess it to be Drake because of his effectiveness against left handed hitters (.693 OPS in 2017) and the fact that he is out of minor league options. However, Suter as a natural lefty has fared better against lefties than Drake (.541 OPS) and is a more versatile option.
Williams has stood out with an excellent spring, but the Brewers could decide to develop him a little more in Triple-A, especially given his injury-hampered past. He does provide a lot of upside, and has the potential to be a very high-level reliever in the future. The Brewers could also make a waiver claim on a reliever from another team that is designated for assignment, like they did with Jared Hughes at roster cut-down time last spring.
Logan will be on the shelf for awhile with a reported triceps strain. Once he returns, he will provide an additional left-handed option out of the bullpen to supplement Hader and possibly Suter.
Prediction: Hoover, Gallardo, and Suter win the final three spots.
The Locks: Hernan Perez, Eric Thames, Eric Sogard
The Candidates: Jett Bandy, Jesus Aguilar, Keon Broxton, Nick Franklin
Disabled List: Stephen Vogt
Hernan Perez will reassume his role of super-utility man in 2018, and he has been impressive for a bench player this spring, hitting .288/.327/.408. Thames is listed here because of the likelihood of Braun spending time at first base, but I still expect Thames to start around 50% of the time at the least. Bandy and Aguilar are interesting cases. It is hard to believe the Brewers will keep two primary first basemen on the bench, but they could decide to keep Aguilar for at least the start of the season if they decide to go with a four-man rotation, with Aguilar providing insurance for a potential injury. Aguilar likely would not make it through waivers if he is designated for assignment, and he would need to clear waivers to be sent down because he is out of minor-league options.
Bandy is set to make the team with Vogt being injured, and if all stands as is he certainly will make the team. However, there is the potential that another team waives a catcher while making roster cuts that the Brewers like, and should that happen Bandy could find himself on the waiver wire. He has struggled this spring at the plate, and likely would not have made the team had Vogt been healthy.
Prediction: Bandy and Aguilar fill two spots as the Brewers go with a four-man rotation to start the year.
Final Picks (Opening Day starters in italics):
Catcher (2): Manny Piña, Jett Bandy
First Base (3): Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, Jesus Aguilar
Second Base (2): Jonathan Villar, Eric Sogard
Third Base (1): Travis Shaw
Shortstop (1): Orlando Arcia
Outfield (3): Lorenzo Cain, Domingo Santana, Christian Yelich.
Utility (1): Hernan Perez
Starting Pitchers (4): Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra.
Bullpen (8): Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, Matt Albers, Jeremy Jeffress, Jacob Barnes, JJ Hoover, Brent Suter, Yovani Gallardo
22 home runs. 63 RBIs. A .303 batting average paired with an NL-leading .633 slugging percentage. Good numbers for an entire season, right?
Well, Jesús Aguilar put those up in 79 games… and didn’t make the All-Star game.
A bevy of factors could have played into Aguilar missing the first edition of the All-Star roster, but nearly all stem from one overarching theme: Aguilar, as big and powerful as he is, is a little-known commodity. He didn’t start the season as the Brewers starting first baseman. In fact, he started out as the Brewers’ third string first baseman. Accordingly, he was not on the All-Star ballot, and did not even begin playing regularly until Ryan Braun and Eric Thames went down with injuries. Aguilar also doesn’t have the name recognition of players like Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt, but he’s playing right at their level (and often above it) day in and day out.
Aguilar didn’t slug his first home run until April 21st, a walk off shot against the Marlins. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as Jesús has since hit 21 more in his breakout season, the most in the NL over that span. Oh, and before I forget, that also makes him tied for the lead in home runs for the entire season, too. He essentially gave the rest of the league a head start of over three weeks and is still beating them all.
Aguilar not only has the stats and skill of an all-star, but also the personality and charisma of one. He is the glue that keeps the Brewers clubhouse together. Even if you kept intact the talent that he has added to the lineup, it is close to a guarantee that without his goofy presence, this would not be the same first-place Brewers team that we see today. He represents everything that the ideal ballplayer should be: skilled, humble, and fun.
However, there is still a hope for Aguilar to make the All-Star roster, and that is via the final vote. He has his back up against the wall against four larger-than-Milwaukee market players: Max Muncy (Los Angeles), Trea Turner (Washington), Brandon Belt (San Francisco), and Matt Carpenter (St. Louis).
Will Milwaukee repay Jesús for all the memories he has given us this far? Do your part by voting here, and help him join teammates Lorenzo Cain, Josh Hader, and Christian Yelich in Washington.
The Brewers have officially completed the hard part, getting to the postseason. You could look back at the individual successes and the great moments, or you could look at what got them to where they are. September was an exceptional month for the team, winning 9/10 series and having an overall record of 19-7. However, it’s not just for the cycles and home runs, its the strategy behind it.
This started the heroic strategy of September. When you think of a September call-ups, you think of a team bringing in a few young guys to get experience or to add a little depth. The Brewers took this idea to the next level. They went from 25 guys to 36 guys in the dugout contributing to a postseason run.
Here is where they really got smart. They called up five pitchers and moved Junior Guerra to the bullpen, that turned an eight man pen into a 14 man pen. Every single pitcher who was in the bullpen at the start of September all had some sort of major league experience.
Going into the season, the starting pitching was something to be expected as a weak point. Over the course of the season, and September, the pitching has flourished. The pitchers have not been asked to do anything they can’t. They haven’t been asked to go seven innings every start and allow only two hits.
What they have been asked to do this September is pitch four to five innings and allow the bullpen take over. This month the average start is around 4.2 innings. The rest of the game has been covered by the bullpen – A team strength. This works because they have 14 guys in the pen who can all perform very well. Both these points connect to the last point.
Dan Jennings Starting? “Out of the Box Thinking”
At the onset of the season, if you were to say that Dan Jennings would start a ballgame, disbelief would have overcome the moment. Even saying the word “start” doesn’t cover all bases. He came in and pitched the first at-bat to lefty Matt Carpenter. He pitched three pitches and got a ground ball out.
Then Freddy Peralta was called in to cover the next couple of innings. This plays into how Counsell manages the pitching staff. No one is called a closer, set-up man, or even a starter. He calls them all “out-getters”. Using the correct “out-getters” in the correct situations has resulted in winning all series in September except for one.
The Brewers have done some very interesting things this September and it has led to their first playoff berth in seven years. The way Counsell has managed this team has made them incredibly consistent with little fatigue. In a month were teams either press hard or prepare for the future they have kept an even attitude and keep finding ways to win.
We are two weeks away from the best day of the year, Opening Day. Opening day starts a new chapter, where everyone is put onto a clear slate. No matter what happened last year, it doesn’t matter anymore. One player who can really use the clean slate is Orlando Arcia. To make the story short, the kid really struggled offensively last year. He became a liability at the end of the lineup. At some points of the season, he seemed to be an automatic out. In July he was sent down to AAA to work on some stuff, and adjust his swing motion. When he came back he seemed to have a little more fire under his belt. That really came through however, in the playoffs.
In the postseason he was electric, hitting as many homeruns as he did in all of the regular season. Another thing that stands out, is his strikeout percentage. During the season he held a 23% strikeout rate, in the postseason, he cut that number in half at 11%. Although the playoffs are a small sample size, I truly believe that the Aricia we saw in the postseason, is ready to shine in 2019.
The biggest problem I saw with Orlando in 2018 was the amount of pitches he seen per at bat. On average he saw about 3.5 pitches, which can be a big problem. If a hitter is out in three to four pitches, he has no chance to get deep into a count, and catch a mistake. Going off of that, is his walks. He had a 4% walk rate, which again can cause a lot of issues. Walks have become so important in the game of baseball. If a hitter can’t take advantage of it, he can severely hurt his team.
Now, I am not saying that Arcia needs to come out and be Lorenzo Cain at the plate, but we do need to see some production at the SS position. He can get a little leeway with his strong defense, but at the end of the day, that can only take him so far. For the Brewers to be 95-67 this year, I projected that each position needs to produce around 85 runs (that includes walks, hits, homeruns, and stolen bases). Last year Arcia nearly hit 30 runs, falling 55 runs under.
Like I said before, this year is a whole new ballgame (see what I did there). With that being the case, let’s look at his winter league numbers. In 72 at bats, he struck out five times and walked ten times. That’s more like it! He also had one home run and posted a .405 OBP. That is the Orlando we all got to witness in the postseason. As of 3/11, in Spring Training with 26 plate appearances, he has walked twice and struck out three times. Now off season and Spring Training numbers only mean so much. However seeing Arcia having some success at the plate is not only promising for this season, but also his confidence.
Since we have now set all the records straight it’s time to get into what really matters, what the Brewers’ need from him. To start things off, it is good to keep in mind that Arcia is a 24 year old, DEFENSIVE shortstop. Not saying that he is never going to contribute a lot on offense, but his main specialty is his defense. Craig Counsell said the other day that the defense revolves around him and how they shift, and that you need a guy like that out there.
As I look at Arcia I don’t expect him to be batting .300 and hitting 25 homers. What I do expect is a solid seven or eight place hitter who can draw a couple walks and not be an automatic out. Another point to the argument is that he needs to make more contact with the ball. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .305, which means when he put the ball in play he was hitting .305.
To not make things so long, the Brewers’ need postseason Arcia to show up everyday. In all, there is a very small amount of things he needs to fix, but without fixing them he could find himself in another disappointing season. Needless to say, the kid came though big time in the postseason, and has a lot more potential that can be brought out.
5/29-6/1: @ New York Mets
Results: 4-2 L, 5-4 L (12 innings), 7-1 W, 2-1 W
Star of the Series: Corey Knebel (2.1 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 1 SV)
Coming off of a back and forth series with Arizona prior to arriving in New York for a brief road trip with the Mets, the Brewers were looking for a good series in order to hold on to their first place lead in the division. However, the first two games of the series did not quite go as planned. Four earned runs from Matt Garza sealed the Crew’s fate in the opener, and the Brewers lost a 12-inning heartbreaker the next night, a game which saw chances for both teams in later innings be squandered. The offense saw its pop return in the 7-1 win, with home runs by Thames and Domingo Santana leading the charge. Finally, series star Knebel shut the Mets down in the series’ final affair with two strikeouts on the way to his 4th save of the season since taking over the closer’s role.
6/2-6/4: vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Results: 2-1 L (12 innings), 10-8 L, 3-0 W
Another day, another series in which the Brewers bullpen gives up leads. In this case, it seemingly cost them the series win as a whole. In many ways, this series was quite similar to the Mets series just days earlier. A loss in 12 innings? Check; Game lost by two runs with a majority of runs scored in only a few innings? Check; Third game where home runs by Thames and Santana led to the victory? Check. Now, if you had told Brewers fans that they would play a close, 2-1 series loss against one of the best current teams in baseball, many of those fans would have been quite happy with that. However, also knowing that Milwaukee was just a few pitches away from possibly sweeping that same team in the series, not so much.
NL Central Standings Update (as of 6/5/17)
No major transactions occurred this week
The Brewers came into this week holding onto their division lead in the NL Central by the skin of their teeth, with the suddenly red-hot Cubs hot on their trail. After a promising 8-0 winning start against Washington, the Brewers cracked, as the bullpen squandered game 2 and Michael Blazek got scorched for 5 home runs in one inning in a game 3 15-2 blowout. The Crew took that punch in the gut and responded with a hard-fought 2-1 win against the Cubs, who now led by 1.5 games, to bring the standings back to 0.5. However, a couple losses later and it’s now at 2.5 games back for Milwaukee with the trade deadline and St. Louis approaching. Will the Brewers buy, sell, or stay put? Will they bounce back against the Cards? Only time will tell.
With that being said, it’s time for a look at the week ahead.
The Week Ahead
Upcoming series: vs. St. Louis (8/1-8/3) and @ Tampa Bay (8/4-8/6)
Pitching matchups vs. St. Louis: Carlos Martinez (7-8, 3.52 ERA) vs. Jimmy Nelson (8-5, 3.38 ERA); TBD vs. TBD; Michael Wacha (8-4, 3.71 ERA) vs. TBD
Pitching matchups @ Tampa Bay: TBD vs. TBD; TBD vs. TBD; TBD vs. TBD
Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)
Winner: Lewis Brinson
Sweet Lew makes his first appearance on the Week In Review awards list, as he picks up the Rollie Fingers Award here. Now, he has definitely not gotten off to the best start at the plate since coming up to the big leagues, as while he has hit 2 home runs, he is hitting just .111. However, where he has really shined in his short time in MLB is in the field. In each of the last two games of the Cubs series, he made a great, clutch catches to prevent Chicago runs from scoring (one on Kyle Schwarber, one on Addison Russell). Catches like the ones that Brinson pulled off are some of the most exciting plays in baseball when they occur, so two in one series is more than enough to earn the phrase “balls to the wall”.
The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)
Winner: Travis Shaw
The Mayor of Ding Dong City did it again this week. Coming off of a 6-for-20 week where he clubbed two home runs and added 4 RBIs (bringing his totals on the season to 24 and 74 respectively), Shaw more than deserves this award. While one of his dingers came in the dismantling of the Crew in the nation’s capital, the third baseman has seemingly made it a mission to prove to everyone in the baseball world that he should have been a 2017 All-Star selection. So far in the second half, while the Brewers may be struggling, Shaw has been one of the team’s bright spots.
The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)
Winner: Zach Davies
When a baby faced Zach Davies arrived on the scene in 2016, he impressed not only Brewers fans, but managers and teams around the league as well. While he was not and has never been a strikeout pitcher (135 Ks in 163.1 IP in 2016), he got guys out and kept them from crossing the plate at a reasonable rate. Now, in 2017, fans have been wondering “where is that Zach Davies?” Well, we saw some of him in Tuesday’s 8-0 victory against the Nationals. Over the course of 114 pitches in 7.2 innings, Davies would strike out 7 Washington batters while only surrendering 3 hits and 3 walks. Even in taking a loss on Sunday, Davies looked solid, adding another 6 strikeouts to his total and giving up 3 earned runs against a powerful and hot-hitting Cubs lineup. Here’s to hoping we see more of 2016 Davies throughout the remainder of 2017.
AAA: Colorado Springs
Brandon Woodruff (Brewers No. 4 Prospect; MLB.com’s #94 overall): 6-5, 4.46 ERA, 72.2 IP, 70 K, 24 BB, 1.33 WHIP, .259 Opponent AVG
Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .297, 11 2B, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 6 SB (29 games played with CS)
Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 12 Prospect): .293, 16 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR, 66 RBI, 6 SB (79 games with CS)
AA: Biloxi Shuckers
Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 3 Prospect; MLB.com’s #81 overall): 4-5, 3.57 ERA, 80.2 IP, 72 K, 31 BB, 1.13 WHIP, .207 Opponent AVG
Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 7 Prospect): 3-3, 2.32 ERA, 54.1 IP, 54 K, 9 BB, 0.92 WHIP, .206 AVG
A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect; MLB.com’s #68 overall): .235, 22 2B, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 20 SB at A Adv Carolina
Keston Hiura (Brewers No. 5 Prospect; MLB.com’s #95 overall): 11 games: .400, 4 2B, 2 3B, 7 RBI at A Wisconsin
Lucas Erceg (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .246, 24 2B, 12 HR, 64 RBI at A Adv Carolina
Trey Supak (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): 2-3, 5.23 ERA, 53.1 IP, 46 K, 21 BB, 1.35 WHIP, .250 AVG at Adv A Carolina
Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 18 Prospect; No. 19 last week): .270, 34 2B, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 7 SB at A Adv Carolina
Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 25 Prospect; No. 26 last week): .244, 14 2B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB at A Wisconsin
The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off an 11-day, 10 game road trip in Denver with a four-game tilt against the Rockies, with both squads entering the series at 21-16. The Rockies, winners of six of their previous seven games, are in a tight division race in the National League West just as the Brewers find themselves in the NL Central and both team will likely be competing for the two wild card spots in the playoffs right down to the wire. With the Brewers entering the game ranked 28th in runs per game in Major League Baseball and the Rockies ranked at 26th in runs per game, something had to give in the Mile-High air.
Thursday, May 10th– Brewers 5, Rockies 2
Game One of the series started off with a bang as Lorenzo Cain took the first pitch of the series delivered by Rockies’ SP German Marquez into the center field bleachers for a lead off home run. Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story answered with a solo shot of his own in the second inning but after a Manny Pina sacrifice fly put the Brewers ahead for good in the third inning. Hernan Perez added two RBIs and Cain tacked on another RBI to give the all the offense they would need.
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin pitched a steady 5.1 innings allowing four hits and two runs which was enough to hand the ball off to the stellar bullpen. Boone Logan, Matt Albers, Corey Knebel Jeremy Jeffress combined to finish the final 3.2 innings allowing only one hit and striking out six to lockdown the Brewers victory.
Friday, May 11th– Brewers 11, Rockies 10
Game two of the series was a four-hour and twenty-minute marathon thriller that will be one of the more memorable games of the 2018 season. After the Brewers jumped out to a 3-1 lead, the Rockies jumped all over starter Brandon Woodruff scoring three runs on five hits in the third inning and then following up with five runs on five hits in the fourth innings off Woodruff and reliever Jacob Barnes to take a commanding 9-3 lead. The Brewers would then begin to claw their way back. A Shaw single scored Braun in the fifth to get the Crew within five, and then a big four run, four hits sixth inning helped get the Brewers back to striking distance. Carlos Gonzalez answered for the Rockies in the bottom of the inning to put Colorado up 10-8 and the Brewers offense went back to a stagnant level until being down to their last out.
With former Cub closer Wade Davis toeing the mound the Rockies got two quick outs in the 9th before Hernan Perez took a cutter and found the gap on the left side of the infield for a single to give the Brewers hope. Manny Pina stepped to the plate as the tying run and on the third pitch of his at-bat took a Davis fastball opposite field that landed just on top of the wall and over for a game tying home run. Deja-vu for Davis who in his last appearance against the Brewers gave up a walk-off homerun to Travis Shaw last September at Miller Park.
Jeffress came in to blank the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings. After Domingo Santana lined out, Cain knocked a single to right off Rockies reliever Jake McGee. Christian Yelich struck out, but newcomer Tyler Saladino moved Cain to second base with a single to left. Shaw then beat the shift with a single to right center that scored Cain from second base and gave Shaw his third RBI of the night and put the Brewers ahead for good. Josh Hader came in and sealed the win with a 1-2-3 inning which included striking out the final two against the Rockies’ heart of the order in Blackmon, Arenado and Gonzalez. The win was the Brewers’ largest comeback win on the road since 2011 at Minnesota.
Saturday, May 12th– Rockies 4, Brewers 0
Before the game three even started things didn’t go as planned as scheduled starter Chase Anderson was scratched due to an illness and Brent Suter moved up a day in the rotation to make the start. As has been the case far too many times so far in 2018, the Brewers offense laid an egg and were shut out for the eight time which already equals the total amount of shut outs in 2017. Trevor Story lit up the scoreboard for Colorado and was responsible for driving in all four runs, including hitting two home runs.
Sunday, May 13th– Brewers 7, Rockies 3
In game four of the series the Brewers called up Freddy Peralta from AAA Colorado Springs to make the start and with his family making the trip from the Dominican Republic to witness Peralta pitch for the first time in his professional career it made for yet another memorable Mother’s Day in Brewers lore. Peralta was stellar, taking a no hitter into the sixth inning and racking up 13 strikeouts, a franchise debut record, on 98 pitches to help lead the Brewers. Saladino helped get the offense going with an RBI double which was followed up by a two RBI single by Yelich to extend the lead to 3-0. Jesus Aguliar hit a three-run home run into the left field bleachers in the sixth inning to give the Brewers all the insurance runs they would need on the afternoon.
-Even with all the positives the afternoon produced, there were some not pleasant stats in the box score as the Brewers were 3/17 with runners in scoring position and struck out at the plate 15 times.
-A win is a win and this win, coupled by Sunday losses by the Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs helped move the Brewers to be alone in first place as they head to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are currently in first place in the NL West.
-The Brewers entered Sunday with an all-time best winning percentage of .627, 32-19 overall, on Mothers’ Day.
-Colorado will meet the Brewers again in Milwaukee August 3-5 for a three-game series.
Make sure to read the fantastic article by Sam Monnat from Cream City Central which details just what a superb debut Freddy Peralta had. http://www.creamcitycentral.com/brewers/freddy-peralta-shines-in-debut/
The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired right-handed relief pitcher Joakim Soria from the Chicago White Sox for AA left-handed pitcher Kodi Medeiros and right-hander Wilber Perez from the Dominican Summer League.
As the new MLB Prospect Watch was released today, Medeiros, a former first-round pick, was ranked as the Brewers #13 prospect and the primary left-handed starter in the farm system. He was beginning to find success at the AA level posting a 3.14 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. In Perez’s two summer seasons, he charted 17 appearances with a 5-1 record, 40.1 innings, and 47 strikeouts.
Joakim Soria has a career 2.84 ERA in 613 games. He is a two-time All-Star and is fifth in active pitchers with 220 career saves.
Soria fits into the Brewers already stocked bullpen as another middle reliever. Manager Craig Counsell’s rotation averages less than six innings pitched per game which puts a heavy toll on the relievers. Adding Soria is another extremely capable arm to take over in any inning and lead the way for set-up guys like Jeremy Jeffress or Josh Hader, embrace a set-up role, or even close a game.
Medeiros and Perez fit the White Sox developing farm system which is booming with talent specifically with pitchers like Michael Kopesch, Dylan Cease, and Dane Dunning who are all top 100 prospects. Medeiros is an enigma, however, as he will be Rule 5 eligible this next season. This means he will need to be on the 40 Man roster of the White Sox or he could be scooped up by another team in the Rule 5 draft. Medeiros has been successful this year, however, he has struggled with giving up runs as he has not posted an ERA lower than 4.44 and has been as high as 5.93 in full seasons. His control has also been spotty as he has averaged half a walk an inning throughout his minor league career which has contributed to the inflated ERA. Perez is only 20 years old and his progression will be tested once he plays a full season, but his smaller sample size has proved positive in the Dominican Summer League.
The Brewers valued Medeiros, but General Manager David Stearns mentioned situations like this are tough as he will be getting rid of him as the “price of playing poker,” on MLB.com. Stearns seems to believe that he is acquiring a great arm the Brewers can utilize to close out tight games with Soria. Milwaukee does not seem to be done yet, though. Scouts from a number of sellers including the Mets, Rangers, Royals, Reds, Marlins, and Tigers showed up to scout the Brewers strong AA team. Rumors are also swirling about starter Zach Wheeler from New York, Minnesota middle infielders Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier, and pitcher Kyle Gibson, and Washington second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Who would you like Stearns to make a move for by Tuesday’s deadline? Feel free to comment or tweet @CreamCityCtral.
Statistics found on Baseball Reference