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Thursday, July 18th 2019
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The Piña Puzzle

If you would have told me last year that the Brewers were going to be playoff contenders in 2017, I would have laughed at you. I am sure a number of you felt the same way. In and with that, if you would have told me Manny Pina would be a key piece to that playoff chasing team’s puzzle, I would probably have thought twice before talking sports with you again. Well, if you were that person who predicted both of these things, you more than likely have super powers and I would appreciate it if you could use those powers to fix some things in society instead of settling for random sports insights.

Pina started off as a catcher in the Texas Rangers organization in 2004 and was traded to the Kansas City Royals organization in 2009. When he was 24, Pina was called up to the Royals and played in 4 games. He was called up the next year as well and only participated in 1 game and was granted free agency at the end of the year. Manny then signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2013, but was stored in the minors and traded to the Detroit Tigers in that same season. Finally, Pina found himself a home. In 2015, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers as a “player to be named later” along with Javier Betancourt for Francisco Rodriguez. Manny spent the front half of the 2016 season with Milwaukee’s AAA affiliate, Colorado Springs, but was called into action when former all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy was traded to the Texas Rangers.

Manny played sparingly in the back half of the 2016 season for the Brewers. He appeared in 33 games as he split time with Martin Maldonado who is now with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Pina hit a respectable .254/.346/.394 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI in 81 plate appearances, but the 29 year old catcher was not viewed as an integral part of the Brewers’ roster going forward. In fact, there were rumblings about the Brewers looking elsewhere at the catcher position. In the same year Pina was called up to the Brewers, the club traded for Andrew Susac from the San Francisco Giants who was viewed as useful player for the future. Along with that, the Brewers made a straight swap of the aforementioned Martin Maldonado for fellow catcher Jett Bandy. If that was not enough to doubt Manny getting playing time, all-star Matt Wieters was available on the free agent heap and the Brewers were rumored to be in on the sweepstakes.

156 games later, Andrew Susac is on the MLB roster, but is there because of September call-ups, Jett Bandy hit .206 over 59 games, and Matt Wieters is a Washington National. Through all of that, 30 year old rookie catcher Manny Pina has played in 107 games and has hit .279/.324/.424 with 9 home runs, and 43 RBI. On the defensive end, Manny is 10th in the MLB in defensive wins above replacement, 4th in least amount of passed balls, and 1st in catcher pickoffs. He has bolstered himself as a solid part of the lineup and a very good defensive catcher.

Now the question remains: Is Manny Pina the catcher of the future? The knock against him is that he is 30 years old, but Pina does not have a lot of mileage on him. In fact, he is actually considered a rookie this year based on service. His ability to throw runners out, let alone, keep them honest through his ability to pick them off have proved as a major tool in his success this year. As mentioned before, he leads the MLB in catcher pickoffs and he is 10th in the NL in DWAR. These are extremely important numbers at the catcher position as it essentially puts a stop sign up for runners who may be thinking about stealing. He is no slouch at the plate either. On top of the stats that he has put out this year, Pina has come up with some timely hits over the course of the year with the most noteable being a Bill Hall-esque 3-run bomb on Mother’s’ Day to put the Brewers on top.

Manny Pina is an enigma. He goes from being a guy who was on the verge of being cut from the club, to being the primary catcher and flourishes in that position. He becomes the “next man up” for a team that was worried about the position. He may be a stop gap solution, but he may also be the future. Ultimately, Manny Pina has developed from a career minor leaguer into a legitimate starting option at the catcher position. As I said before, if you predicted this was going to happen, don’t hide those talents under a bushel.

The Most Important Contract Extension of the Year

The Brewer’s 33 year old GM David Stearns may be the most important contract extension within the near future. After being hired in September of 2015 and taking over for Doug Melvin in October of that year, Stearns has done nothing but impress. Although his contract is not public, it would be a great idea to be proactive with his extended future in Milwaukee. He is very attractive to any team looking for a GM and the Brewers cannot risk losing him and must keep him committed to Milwaukee for the long term.  

He took over for a team starting a rebuild, and accelerated the rebuild using blueprint parts from the Astros and Cubs. What was thought to be a five year rebuild by most, Stearns refused to put a time frame in place. Two years later in 2017 the Brewers were a team competing for the postseason going into the last weekend of the season.

Although this seems quick, steps were not skipped. Including moves from Doug Melvin, he traded away assets with limited long term value for young controllable talent with “up-side”. Guys like Kris Davis, Francisco Rodriguez, and Jonathan Lucroy were all traded for top prospects. In 2015, the team he inherited had a winning percentage of .420 going 68-94. Not quite three years into the process, the 2018 Brewers have a winning percentage of .590. However, Stearns’ brilliance goes far beyond a short rebuild and winning.

Draft Picks

Since his first draft in 2016, Stearns has picked players that have had immediate impact within the Brewer farm system. Highlighting this group are Zack Brown RHP (drafted in 2016 currently in AA), Corbin Burnes RHP (drafted in 2016 currently in AAA), Corey Ray OF (drafted in 2016 currently in AA), and Keston Hiura 2B (drafted in 2017 currently in AA).  

Both Brown and Burnes figure to be stalwarts within the starting line up while Ray and Hiura are slick defensive gems with offensive “swag”.  

Player BB SO IP
Corbin Burnes 31 78 74.1
Zack Brown 24 89 92

 

Player AB SO OBP
Corey Ray 292 92 .343
Keston Hiura 291 65 .388

 

Stearns preaches having young controllable talent. Being able to stack the minors with draft picks and young talent from trades is key to this process.

Valuing the Undervalued

Stearns, and the team he assembled, has an incredible eye for finding talent – that “diamond in the rough” kind of talent. Look at the Brewer’s roster now, you would be surprised at the guys who were claimed off of waivers or were the player to be named later in a trade.

Starting catcher Manny Pina was the player to be named later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade. Power hitter Jesus Aguilar was picked up off of waivers. Junior Guerra was plucked from European baseball. Undervalued by Boston and Houston, Travis Shaw and Jonathan Villar are now solid staples in the Brewer’s arsenal.

Past Offseason Acquisitions

This may be one of the more obvious reasons, but to me there is more to it. Obviously, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain have been a huge part of our success this season. On January 25th, when the Brewers officially acquired both, many assumed there to be too many outfielders. However, this plays into what Stearns also talks about so much, quality depth. Without this quality depth, not only in the within outfield but within the pitching staff, it is reasonable to believe the Brewers would not be sporting one of the best records in baseball. Jhoulys Chacin, low name recognition compared to Cain and Yellich, has been the “steading force” within the starting rotation that was sorely needed. He for sure wasn’t the biggest free agent pitcher on the market, but he has proven to be better than some of the more highly toughted free agent pitchers.

 

All these points prove that David Stearns is so incredibly important to this team and deserves a contract extension. He has has found the “secret sauce” in building and maintaining a winning team in a lower revenue market. It is now necessary to compensate his talents with big market money. Sooner rather than later.

The Comeback Kid: Gio Gonzalez

At the end of the trade waiver deadline David Stearns made a jump for starting pitching depth and acquired lefty Gio Gonzalez. The two time All-Star struggled earlier this year with the Nationals, but got his second chance with the Brewers. He has taken full advantage of the opportunity.

 

Year Team FIP K% WHIP ERA
2018 WSN 4.24 19.5% 1.53 4.57
2018 MIL 2.81 28.1% 0.92 1.65

 

Since being traded to Milwaukee, Gonzalez has made three starts, and has dominated. By the stats above prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt.  His improvement as a pitcher and his contribution to the Brewers is striking. He has proved that he can be a pitcher the Brewers can count on going into the postseason. Gonzalez has put together great starts, but his one on Wednesday stands out.

 

On Wednesday night, Gonzalez led the crew to a 7-0 win against the Reds to take the series. He went six innings on a two hit shutout with 5 SO and 2 BB. Craig Counsell has usually let a pitcher run five innings and lets the fiery bullpen take over. For Gonzalez to go six proves his effectiveness, and for those who didn’t watch, he was cruising. The last time a Brewers starter went more than five innings was actually Gonzalez on Sept. 8 going 5.2 innings.

 

Counsell stated this on Gio going six innings, “He was on cruise control. He pitched really really well.”

Counsell also touched on his overall performance as a Brewer, “We’ve given him the ball three times and won 3 games. It’s working out well.”

 

You can’t say enough about Gio Gonzalez, he got traded from a team he was very comfortable with and came to a new environment and has performed. He has done very well and has kept focused on helping lead this team to a playoff berth.

What To Expect From Top Brewers Prospects in 2019

I understand how getting caught up in farm system rankings and prospects that may not crack a big league roster for several more years may seem silly at face value for a Brewers organization that was one win away from a World Series berth. However, this article will analyze the present through the lens of the future, by highlighting the status of some Brewers prospects who are already household names, namely Keston Hiura, Corey Ray, and others, and when we can expect them to fill a meaningful spot on one of the best rosters in the National League.

 

When Milwaukee traded three of their top 10 prospects almost exactly a year ago to acquire Christian Yelich, they sacrificed being seen as having one of the best farm systems in baseball for improving the major league roster; something that must be done for teams looking to contend in a competitive, money-driven league. Combined with trades such as the Yelich deal and some other top prospects graduating to significant, high-leverage roles in Milwaukee like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, the consensus regarding the Brewers’ farm system that it is pretty much middle-of-the-road. Starting with Keston Hiura, who Baseball America calls: “The best hitter the Brewers have developed since Ryan Braun” let’s look at what we can expect in 2019 from some future Brewers.

 

  • 2B Keston Hiura

With his elbow concerns far in the rearview, and his pure offensive domination in the minors, Keston Hiura seems more ready than ever to take over as Milwaukee’s starting second baseman and an as an important middle of the lineup weapon. That said, that role will not immediately belong to him coming out of spring training, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he will have to wait for his call-up sometime during the 2019 regular season. In 2018, Hiura hit to the tune of .293/.357/.464 with 13 home runs and 34 doubles. Hiura projects as an elite contact hitter and an average power threat at a position of need for the Brewers.

Keston Hiura’s career BA is .313

 

 

 

 

Projection: All attempts to pry Hiura away from Milwaukee will be unsuccessful and by the end of 2019 he will be starting on a daily basis and garnering some NL Rookie of the Year buzz.

  • OF Corey Ray

Seen as a true five-tool threat worthy of the 5th overall selection in the 2016 Draft, Corey Ray has had many eyes on his performance ever since his selection. After a down year offensively in 2017 that sparked some concern, Ray was able to flip the script entirely in 2018 and play so spectacularly that he took home the Southern League MVP award at AA Biloxi.

Unlike Hiura, Ray does not have a clear opening for him on the major league roster, given the strength of the Brewers outfield, so he will likely have to wait for injury or another extenuating circumstance if he hopes to make his debut in 2019.

 

Projection: Corey Ray’s struggles with plate discipline and the Brewers’ outfield depth will prevent him from taking over a meaningful role in 2019, but he will make his debut at some point and turn some heads with his balanced skill-set.

 

  • 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon

Mauricio Dubon was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Tyler Thornburg deal from 2016, and has yet to crack the big leagues. In 2018 he seemed on the verge of a call-up when he unfortunately suffered a season-ending ACL tear. In 2018, Dubon hit for the superb average of .343 in 108 at-bats and projects as a plus defender with above average speed and range.

Mauricio Dubon is a plus defender with great offensive instincts

 

 

 

 

Projection: As it stands, there is no clear spot for Dubon on the Brewers, but expect him to get a chance in 2019 at either shortstop if Orlando Arcia struggles or at second base if injury strikes.

RHP Zack Brown

 

Zack Brown has had an up and down career thus far, however, his recent success in 2018 in Double-A is indicative of future prosperity. Last season, he was able to finish with a 9-1 overall record partnered with a 2.44 ERA. Brown projects as an excellent ground-ball pitcher who pounds the strike zone well.

Projection: Brown’s success will carry over into 2019 and will earn him a chance to debut in the Brewers’ bullpen following in the footsteps of Josh Hader, Corbin Burnes, and others.

 

While the Brewers farm system may not be as much of a strength as it was a couple years ago, it is safe to say there are some potential difference makers who will be primed for substantial roles in the not too distant future. Organizational depth is a vital key to a successful franchise, and the Brewers’ scouts and decision-makers have done a great job of building for the present without leaving the future in the rearview. Bring on 2019!

Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference

The OFFICIAL Jimmy Nelson Return Recap

On Wednesday night, Jimmy Nelson returned to the mound to a standing ovation for his first Major League start in 21 months. September 8th, 2017 was the date of his last start where he went 5 innings, gave up 0 runs and struck out 7. After sliding head first back to a base, Nelson tore his labrum and strained his rotator cuff on his pitching arm. It was unfortunate because 2017 was easily the best year of his professional career and he was starting to look like the ace fans wanted. Before he got injured that year, he started 29 games, pitched 175.1 innings all while having a 3.49 ERA. He won 12 decisions, lost 6, and had a SO/9 of 10.2. It was such a great year he even finished top 10 in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Before the injury, Nelson threw a power sinker and 4-seam fastball that both ranged into the mid-90s. He also added an outstanding curveball, hard slider, and cutting changeup.

Prior to his first big league start of 2019, Nelson pitched 5 games in AAA and looked solid enough to take the mound for the Brewers. He had a 3.75 ERA in 24 innings with 29 strikeouts. In a pregame interview before Wednesday, the 6’6” 250 pound monster described coming back to pitch like “being a kid waking up on Christmas morning.”

As he took the mound on his birthday against a Marlins team who entered the game last in runs and OPS, there was a buzz throughout Miller Park. The first batter he faced was former Brewer, Curtis Granderson, who reached first safely due to an error by Orlando Arcia. However, he was able to get the next batter, Garrett Cooper, to strike out looking. Nelson was able to get out of the inning relatively unphased but not before an unearned run came across the plate. The second inning showed what Jimmy can do when he’s clicking. He was able to go three up, three down with a strikeout sprinkled in there. The third inning is where Nelson got into major trouble. After giving up 2 walks and a double, the Brewer pitcher left a hanging curveball up in the zone that Brian Anderson mashed into left center for a grand slam. He was able to get out of the inning after that, but the damage was already done.

Jimmy Nelson’s Final stat line read, 3 innings pitched, 5 runs (4 earned), 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. In his return to the mound, Nelson struggled to command any of his off-speed pitches which makes sense for somebody who’s been out for 2 years. He threw 65 pitches but only 35 of them were strikes.

Brewer fans should not be discouraged by Nelson’s not-so-ideal return. His fastball ranged from 91-94 MPH, but that velocity will increase as well as his command of off-speed pitches. We here at Cream City Central are more than happy to have Jimmy Nelson back in the starting rotation. Before you know it, he will be back to the pitcher he was before the injury.

Brewers deal reliever Smith to Giants

Just before the announcement of the trade involving Jeremy Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy, the Brewers made their first deal of the day. Will Smith, a veteran of five years, including three with Milwaukee, was traded to the San Fransisco Giants in exchange for two prospects. The trade was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

The Brewers acquired Smith via trading Nori Aoki to the Royals in 2013. He only has the rest of this season of guaranteed team control, before he enters arbitration years each of the next three years.

Brewers Week in Review: 5/15-5/21

Brewers Week in Review

5/15-5/18: @ San Diego

Record: 3-1

Results: 6-5 L (10), 6-2 W, 3-1 W, 4-2 W

Star of the Series: Eric Sogard (9-for-15 (.600), HR, 5 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB)

Coming to the Bay Area after winning 5 of their last 6 against Boston and the New York Mets, the Brewers really hit their stride in this four-game set. In addition to taking the division lead in the NL Central following their 3-1 victory in game 3 of the series, the bats really stepped up, particularly utility man and nerd power aficionado Eric Sogard. Of his 9 hits in the series, 4 of them went for extra bases (3 doubles, 1 home run). Corey Knebel also cemented his role as the club’s new closer, as Neftali Feliz has continued to struggle early on in the season. While the hard-throwing Knebel did surrender 3 walks in the final two games of the series, he did use 5 strikeouts to get two critical saves for the Crew in finishing out the Padres, including striking out the side in the finale.

5/19-5/21: @ Chicago Cubs

Record: 1-1 (Game 2 PPD; makeup date July 6 @ Chicago)

Results: 6-3 W, PPD, 13-6 L

Star of the Series: Jett Bandy (3-for-7 (.429), 2 RBI, 2 BB)

Now on to the series that everyone is currently talking about. Overall, it was a terrible weather weekend in the Windy City, as game one also had a significant delay (1 hour, 59 minutes) as a result of rain. 4 errors were committed in the opener in total, including 3 by the home side in Chicago. The game also featured the Major League debut of 30-year-old Paolo Espino, a decade-long minor league veteran. Espino posted a solid line (4.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K) and kept the reigning world champs at bay for most of his start. The Cubs responded Sunday with a 13-1 shellacking of the Crew, a contest only made more respectable due to a 5-run Milwaukee 9th inning. However, it is the result, or lack thereof, in the second game that really has people talking. Prior to the game on Sunday, Brewers GM David Stearns seemed to imply that he believed the Cubs had an “ulterior motive” of sorts to postponing Saturday’s contest, as he says it had stopped raining prior to the 1:20 p.m. start time. In addition, many Brewers fans had an issue with the placement of the makeup date, a previously scheduled off day between a home series with Baltimore and a trip to New York for a Yankees series. Whether this will truly make a difference in either team’s fate in a month is to be seen, but for the time being, the Brewers seem to remain a tad suspicious.

NL Central Standings Update (as of 5/22)

  1. Milwaukee Brewers: 25-19 (.568)
  2. Louis Cardinals: 22-19 1.5 GB (.537)
  3. Chicago Cubs: 22-20 2 GB (.524)
  4. Cincinnati Reds: 20-23 4.5 GB (.465)
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates: 20-24 5 GB (.455)

Transactions

5/15: Designated RHP Jhan Marinez for assignment; Recalled LHP Brent Suter from AAA Colorado Springs http://www.jsonline.com/story/sports/mlb/brewers/2017/05/16/brewnot-16/322171001/

5/19: Selected contract of RHP Paolo Espino from AAA Colorado Springs; Optioned LHP Brent Suter to AAA Colorado Springs http://www.brewcrewball.com/2017/5/18/15659352/brewers-paolo-mlb-debut-chicago-cubs

5/20: Recalled RHP Tyler Cravy from AAA Colorado Springs; Optioned RHP Paolo Espino to AAA Colorado Springs http://www.foxsports.com/wisconsin/story/milwaukee-brewers-paolo-espino-tyler-cravy-triple-a-sky-sox-052017

5/21: Activated LF Ryan Braun from 10-day DL; Optioned RHP Tyler Cravy to AAA Colorado Springs http://www.brewcrewball.com/2017/5/21/15672062/brewers-activate-ryan-braun-disabled-list-injury-tyler-cravy

“Now Batting, the *Insert Position Here*, Hernán Pérez!”

Imagine showing up to work having no idea what is in store for you every single day. Your boss assigns what may feel like a random task when you clock in; sometimes the same, other times it’s drastically different. Every once in awhile, boss man (or lady) will change your directive in the middle of your shift. Some of you may struggle and your performance will waver, but for others, you will adapt and thrive; just like Hernán Pérez.

The human utility knife known as Hernán Pérez is the tool that keeps the 1st Place Milwaukee Brewers together. If someone goes down, is struggling, or simply needs a day off (shoutout Brauny), Perez is readily available to assume whatever hole was left by his predecessor. He has the ability to play all four infield positions, serves as the emergency catcher, and has garnered praise as a reliable outfielder.

In the 91 games he has played, he has appeared in the outfield 62 times. This is significant because he entered the Brewers organization simply as a utility infielder. Until 2016, he never played an inning in the outfield; however, an underperforming Keon Broxton and Kirk Nieuwenhuis early last year provided a chance for him to adapt his game and become a true “super utility” player.

The constant shuffling of defensive positioning has not taken a toll on his statistics as it would some others. Through his 658 innings played, Pérez has only committed 5 errors. This has translated into him ranking 17th in the MLB and 9th in the NL in Defensive Wins Above Replacement (DWAR). Basically, this means that having Hernán’s glove in the field adds about one more win to the Brewers’ total over having a different player in the game. It is also important to note that his DWAR has risen 0.2 since July 19 which is impressive.

He’s no slouch with the bat either. As of July 23rd, he is hitting .263 with 11 home runs, 35 runs, and 36 runs batted in. What stands out are his 29 extra base hits. He hits the ball hard and it shows up in the stats as he stands with 3 triple baggers, 11 trips around the bases, and 15 doubles. The knock against Pérez, though, is his .296 on base percentage which is mainly due to his walks which only total 15 on the season. His redeeming qualities of run production, whether driving someone in or crossing the plate himself, make up for his struggles to get on base.

If his versatility, glove, and hitting ability aren’t enough to get you on board the Pérez bandwagon, look at his personality as well. There is no statistic that measures how good of a teammate someone is, but observational data says quite a bit. Hernán and his son can be seen fooling around with other Brewers during pregame activities, he is a focal point in dugout celebrations, and is willing to play anywhere to help the team succeed.

Hernán Pérez is the definition of a utility man. There are a handful of players who can legitimately play every position on the field and even fewer who can be successful while doing it. When Pérez shows up to work tonight, Craig Counsell will have a task set for him. His task may start on the bench or in left field but he may finish his duties at shortstop. No one knows what crazy events may unfold throughout the game, but we all know who will be prepared for it.

All stats found on Baseball Reference

PS: His old walkup song is phenomenal and I truly believe he deserves the nickname Pepé because of it.

The ascendance of Josh Hader

On Mon., April 6, 2015, the Milwaukee Brewers were opening the season at Miller Park, against the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, in Corpus Christi, Tex., the Houston Astros’ double-A affiliate, the Hooks, were gearing up to play in the coming days, with a roster that boasted promising talent, especially with regards to prospects like power-hitting outfielder George Springer and leather-flashing short stop Carlos Correa. However, in the Hooks’ bullpen was a 21-year-old Josh Hader, a 19th-round pick out of Maryland. The former California League Pitcher of the Year found his way to Houston’s farm system via a trade deal that sent starting pitcher Bud Norris to the Baltimore Orioles, only two years prior.

In 2015, on the thirtieth day of July, after the Brewers had fallen 21.5 games out of first place in the National League Central, animated center fielder Carlos Gomez, who was one year removed from an All-Star appearance, and rotational anchor Mike Fiers were dealt to Houston for Hader, right-handed pitcher Adrian Houser, along with two outfielders, Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips. Gomez had been nearly dealt to the New York Mets less than 24 hours beforehand, but the deal imploded at the last second.

Now, nearly three years later, not only has Hader cemented himself as the best player to materialize from that trade, but his play has alerted MLB pundits, ones who hadn’t had abounding reasons to watch Milwaukee baseball.

So, what has made the relief tosser, who ranks amongst the top five in K/9, FIP, WAR, and innings pitched, arguably baseball’s best bullpen man to emerge from this young season? Control, pitch discipline and experience have synthesized well with the mechanics of Hader, who, like another lefty, in Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, relies on his downward momentum in order to slide his left arm toward the plate, has worked batters outside more so this year — and it’s paid off.

For instance, inside the batter’s box, opponents have been flummoxed, as their swinging percentage at pitches outside the zone has increased (from 30.5 to 32.1), while their contact percentage has dipped (from 65.3 to 58.8). With two strikes, he throws his slider low and away to lefties, while he peppers his fastball, around both sides of the plate, around the strike zone, but mostly on the inside corner. What’s more is that he has diminished the usage of his changeup, relying on it only one percent of the time, while ramping up his slider percentage, from 11 percent last year to 29 percent this year.

Through May 5, Hader has struck out 61.4 percent of the batters he has faced. Additionally, the bespectacled flamethrower averages over 19 strikeouts per nine innings.

Former All-Star Corey Knebel, the team’s incumbent closer who suffered a serious hamstring injury early last month, was added to the roster of the Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee’s Double-A affiliate) earlier this week. Per Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Knebel will make up to four appearances before potentially joining the Brewers during the team’s next road trip, May 10 in Colorado.

This return may not be off-putting for Hader, though, for the Brewers, who are 12-0 when the southpaw pitches. A dilemma is nearing, as the pitching rotation — outside of newfound glue-guy Junior Guerra, who is 2-1 with a 0.83 ERA in four starts — has some question marks surrounding it. Chase Anderson’s command has been off, Zach Davies has been placed on the 10-day DL (retroactive to April 30), due to right rotator cuff inflammation; and the struggling Brent Suter was sent to the bullpen, for the returning Wade Miley. Add all this with the impending return of ace Jimmy Nelson, and it’s easy to see how ephemeral the current rotation is.

However, from a managerial perspective, Hader should continue to fortify this quasi-closer role, in which he has four saves in five attempts, or become a set-up man for Knebel, because there is still time for the rotation to find its groove. One thing to remember, however, is that Hader was a starter during most of his time as a minor-leaguer, surpassing 100 innings pitched in four separate seasons. This current reliever stint could’ve been a ploy to ameliorate the confidence of the young star, who struggled mightily in Colorado Springs, prior to being called up last summer.

If the staff gets healthy and no subsequent improvement is made, perhaps the Brewers try to acquire an arm, or get Hader back into his old role, letting him make a spot start or two. Someone like Jeremy Jeffress, who has tallied a few saves so far this season, could be inserted into save situations. There will eventually be an ultimatum from the front office, but, until then, ardent viewers of baseball should continue to praise Hader’s elevated game, because it may not be like anything they’ve seen.

Whats the Deal with Josh Hader?

The last week has been quite rough on Brewer fans. A six game losing streak and now team star Josh Hader is engulfed in controversy.  During the All Star game last night, news broke of offensive tweets Josh Hader tweeted 7 years ago. They were homophobic, racist, and sexist. At the time Hader was a 17 year old kid in high school.

After the game Hader addressed the media saying, “I was in high school. We’re still learning who we are in high school. You live and you learn. This mistake won’t happen again.”

Also in the same media conversation he stated, “There is no excuse for what was said and I am deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on.”

Hader met with the MLB earlier today and MLB came out with a statement shortly after explaining their future actions.

It stated, “During last night’s game we became aware of Mr. Hader’s unacceptable social media comments in years past and have since been in communication with the Brewers regarding our shared concerns.”

It later said, “The Office of the Commissioner will require sensitivity training for Mr. Hader and participation in MLB’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

As for David Stearns, he came out with statement saying,

“His comments are inexcusable, and he is taking full responsibility for the consequences of his actions.”

Also stated, “Those of us that have come to know Josh do not believe that these posts are representative of his beliefs. He has been a good teammate and contributor to the team in every way.”

Since then Hader has received support from teammates.

Lorenzo Cain met with media last night after briefly talking with Hader and said, “The situation is what it is. I know Hader. He’s a great guy. I’m fine. Everybody will be OK. We’ll move on from it.” “We have all said crazy things growing up.”

Jesus Aguilar tweeted earlier today saying, “He’s a great player and a better person. Great teammate.”

“He made a mistake 7 years ago. He admitted, he apologized and most important: He learned from it.”

How can we as fans, and more importantly – the team – move past this issue.  The first steps have already been taken in that the issue was confronted “head-on” by Hader and he has received the support from some teammates and club officials.  

Future steps must contain more of the same.  Continued “head-on” and genuine actions by Hader as well as continued public support from additional teammates, club officials, family and friends will help everyone involved move forward.  More importantly, these continued actions will verify that Josh Hader is the person we see now rather than the kid portrayed in tweets from seven years ago.