32.5 F
Milwaukee
Friday, November 22nd 2019
Home Brewers

Brewers

CCC covering the Milwaukee Brewers

Craig Counsell is the best in the business

We are used to seeing the baby faced manager make moves that seem odd at the time, but play out perfectly. That’s his specialty. He has created a name for himself by taking a small market team, and having them play like the big boys. Every move is a combination of gut and strong analytics. His ability to push all the right buttons and create a winning environment in the clubhouse, makes him one of the best in the game. 

  The day usually starts when the lineup for the night gets pushed out around 3 hours before game time. There are days when it seems somewhat “normal” for the Brewers and then there are the days when Grandal is leading off. You first question everything, how is this very slow catcher leading off in the major leagues? However, when game time rolls around you are amazed by how well it works out. All of a sudden in the first inning you automatically have a guy on base with no outs, almost every time. 

The real navigation happened this year when Counsell has to figure out what to do with two previous sluggers. The anomaly of Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar. It becomes a debate of maybe if you give them just one more start they will get on track, or the pitcher they are facing tonight is the perfect matchup for them. A constant discussion on top of that, is making sure Ryan Braun has enough off days to get through the season, and whatever leads after. Then in September, arguably the most competitive month of the season, Counsel is faced with losing his slugger Christian Yelich. It’s no secret either, that Yelich carries the team offensively.

Then you see the starter for the night. Any fan of any other team thinks, if we can get six to seven quality innings out of this dude we should be good to go. However you are a Brewers fan, so you think, if we can get four to five innings with less than three runs we are good to go. The stats prove it too, only Jordan Lyles, Brandon Woodruff, and Zach Davies averaged over five innings of work, and none over six. There was only 19 games this year where a pitcher threw over 100 pitches, and none over 120. In an 18 game set to finish off the season there was only twice where a pitcher went over five innings. Craig Counsel legitimately bullpened his way through September, going 15-3 in that 18 game set. 

Speaking of the bullpen, out of 236 total times a relief pitcher came out, 181 times he ended up pitching more than three outs. Only 29% of inherited runners scored while in relief. These numbers for pitching are insane considering Counsell had a fallout of Corbin Burnes, a somewhat fallout of Freddy Peralta, only having one “electric dude” (who also had his struggles), and Jimmy Nelson’s return not being as smooth as thought. Through all of those roadblocks, the 2019 season was pretty smooth because of Counsel’s last skill.

Craig Counsell’s ability to have a winning feel in the clubhouse is incredible. All the players buy into what he talks about. Through the downs of the season when there was reason to worry, they never wavered. Everyone on the team still enjoyed coming in everyday, hanging out with their brothers, and playing the children’s game. They had the perfect balance of being down after a hard loss, but coming in the next day with a clean slate. That was shown day in and day out with homerun celebrations, clubhouse shenanigans, showing some love, and so much more. All of this starts from the top in Counsell, and it shows, even if he only cracks a smile every now and then.

At the end of the season, what do you get after all this? Definitely not the end goal, and the season ended much earlier than wanted. At the same time however, you have a team that pushed through all the naysayers. Who played in the Wild Card game, when they had no business when looking at the standings three weeks before. Who rallied behind losing their best guy, and crushed September. That’s what you got, five and a half months of meaningful baseball. 

What Craig Counsell has done in the few years he’s been leading the Brewers, has been magical. He has brought excitement back to Milwaukee about baseball, and this year was no different. I could care less about end of the season awards, but if Craig Counsell does not get awarded Manager of the Year, the award needs to be canceled. 

Needless to say Couns is one of the best in the business and should be recognized for that. He has changed the way to look at how a baseball game is played, and used it to his advantage.

Assessing the Brewers options at SS for 2020

It’s no secret Orlando Arcia hasn’t quite lived up to the top prospect status he once claimed. He has had back-to-back bad seasons that even saw him land in AAA for a chunk of 2018. However, we’ve also seen a solid version of Orlando Arcia back in 2017. The Brewers have a tough choice staring them down this offseason regarding Arcia. They will have to decide whether they will tender him a new contract and hand him the shortstop keys once again, or they will non-tender him and move on.  

Keeping Orlando Arcia

               Moving on from a 25-year-old would be tough, especially when you consider the season, he had in 2017. Arcia had an OPS of .731 and showed everyone what a slick fielder he is and could be in the future. However, Arcia has posted a negative WAR these last 2 seasons per Fangraphs. He hit a low this year being the league’s worst qualified hitter. He had a league low in wRC+ of 61 and was also last in OPS (.633). Orlando also saw a dip in defensive production he was 10th among shortstops in errors with 14. He’s also in-line for a raise being arbitration eligible for the first time in his career. Arcia trending in the wrong direction is what’s put the Brewers into this situation. He can still turn this around and be the player Brewer fans have always hoped for. Again, he’s only 25 and some young players take a few years to put it all together. Justin Turner posted an OPS under .700 in 301 games with the Mets and only 8 homeruns. He then changed his swing and became a hitter that has had his OPS consistently above .800. Jose Bautista was just an average MLB player before making minor changes to his swing and changing his approach turned him into an MVP candidate. These are just a couple of examples of why it’s dangerous to give up on players.

Bringing in a Free Agent

               The free agent class at Shortstop isn’t vast, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tempting options here. The first option is Didi Gregorius. Gregorius has had 20 or more homeruns in 3 of the last 4 years. The exception being this season, but that’s due to the fact he only played 82 games while recovering from Tommy John’s surgery. Didi still managed to hit 16 this year despite missing that many games. He is a pure pull hitter and would benefit from playing half his games at Miller Park just like Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas, and Travis Shaw all have.

               The next is Jose Iglesias who the Brewers were rumored to be interested in that offseason. Iglesias ended up signing a minor league contract with the Reds. He ended up making the big-league club out of Spring Training and played in 146 games for the Reds this season. He played solid defense all season collecting only 9 errors. Iglesias is also a contact hitter, striking out only 13.2% of the time this is 6.8% less than Orlando Arcia did last season.  Iglesias posted a WAR of 1.6 according to Fangraphs.

               Finally, we have Freddy Galvis. Galvis started the season with the Blue Jays after signing a one-year contract in the offseason. He played 115 games for the Blue Jays. The switch-hitting shortstop hit 18 homeruns for the Blue Jays in that span. However, with the Blue Jays opting to go young Galvis was placed on waivers and claimed by the Reds in August. In 32 games with the Reds Galvis played both short and 2nd base. Galvis is strikeout prone posting a 24.6 % rate. Galvis is known however more for his glove. He only committed 6 errors in 110 games at shortstop. He was also a Gold Glove finalist in 2018 as the shortstop of the San Diego Padres.

 Acquiring a SS via Trade

               This option is made difficult to think of and see happen. Players like Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story may be too tough to pry away for their current teams based on the status of the Brewers farm system. The rest of teams that may sell it’s tough to find a match. Teams like Seattle, Toronto, and Miami have their shortstops of the future and won’t be moving on anytime soon. However, with David Stearns you never know what he has up his sleeve or who he sees as undervalued and snaps up for cheap.

Internal Options

               Finally, we look at options within the organization. After trading Mauricio Dubon and then removing Hernan Perez from the 40-man roster this looks like the least likely option of the 4. The Brewers do have Tyler Saladino and Cory Spangenberg as options. However, both are arbitration eligible and it’s unknown if the Brewers with even tender them contracts. Finally, Brice Turang is nowhere near ready for the majors and will likely start the year in High-A where he finished this last season. 

               The Brewers have been too good these last 2 seasons to be held back so much at a particular position. David Stearns may have to get creative if he wants to find a star at the position, but there are also quality options that could be huge upgrades for cheap as well. The time is now to find a more productive Shortstop. Whether they believe that shortstop is a more mature and improved Orlando Arcia, or an outside option remains to be seen.

 

 

              

 

The Brewers Should Target Julio Teheran

It’s safe to say Brandon Woodruff will be the Brewers number one pitcher in 2020 but Milwaukee has yet to find a clear number two. Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and Hyun Jin-Ryu, will get all of the attention from the media leaving a dark horse out of Atlanta behind. That player is starting pitcher, Julio Teheran. 

Teheran bursted onto the scene in 2013 as a 22-year-old when he went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 185.2 innings pitched. He also had 170 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.174. He finished 5th in the Rookie of the Year voting that year while the late great Jose Fernandez took home the award. Teheran’s best season of his career came just one year later in 2014 when he had a 2.89 ERA in 221.0 innings with 186 strikeouts and an elite WHIP of 1.081. In 2014, he earned his first out of two All-Star births. Even though 2014 was the best season of his career, Teheran has still managed to be a consistent and solid starting pitcher in the MLB. Since 2014, he has started 159 games and has a respectable ERA of 3.90. Last season, he started 33 games and had a 3.81 ERA in 174.2 innings. His best stretch of 2019 started on May 5th and went through June 13th. In that span, Teheran made 8 starts, threw 44.2 innings and had an ERA of just 0.81. Opponents were batting just .137 against the righty and the Braves were 7-1 in the games he started. 

Throughout his career, Teheran has pitched in 9 seasons and has a 77-73 record with a career ERA of 3.67. What’s most impressive about his career is the fact that he’s the definition of a workhorse. Since he became a full-time starter in 2013, Teheran has averaged about 32 starts per season and about 191 innings pitched. He’s a guy that can grind through games and eat up innings. His go-to pitch is a hard, low 90s sinker that is on par with some of the best in baseball. He also throws a low 90s fastball, low 80s slider, mid 80s changeup, and a mid 70s curve. Teheran is able to throw all 5 pitches for strikes along with a very “herky-jerky” delivery which makes him a very tough pitcher to get a feel for. 

If the Brewers want to sign Julio Teheran, which they should, they will have to wait and see what the Braves do with him first. Atlanta has the option to keep him for $12 million this upcoming season but it doesn’t look like they are going to pay it. Teheran used to be the Braves ace but now he is their number three or four pitcher behind Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, and Dallas Kuechel. $12 million is a steep price to pay for a guy the Braves put in the bullpen during the postseason. 

If and when Julio Teheran becomes a free agent, the Brewers should be all over the phones contacting his agent. Teheran can give the Brewers an established, veteran pitcher that can eat up a lot of innings and take the pressure of their young bullpen. Instead of trying to get the most out of guys like Freddy Peralta, Corbin Burnes, and Jimmy Nelson, who had a combined ERA of 7.02 last season, Teheran can seamlessly slide into the rotation and be a great fit as the number two behind Brandon Woodruff. To sign him, the Brewers would most likely have to give him the money that they would use to sign Jordan Lyles and Gio Gonzalez but Teheran is worth it. The Brewers could sign him to a 2-3 year deal while they are in their window of being postseason contenders. 

A starting rotation in 2020 of Woodruff, Teheran, Zach Davies, Adrian Houser, and Chase Anderson already looks a lot better than any combination Milwaukee rolled out in 2019. 

The Milwaukee Brewers Top 5 Moments of 2019

A Brewers’ season filled with dramatic highs and sobering lows came to an end on Tuesday with a heartbreaking loss in the NL Wild Card game. Despite that, the Crew provided countless memories this season that got fans up on their feet and cheering in elation. Here are the top 5 moments of the Brewers’ 2019 run to the playoffs.

  1. Lorenzo Cain brings one back in Colorado

With a chance to win the NL Central in reach, the Brewers led the Colorado Rockies 2-0 in the bottom of the 7th when Garrett Hampson hit a deep fly ball to center field. Lorenzo Cain raced back to the wall, took a leap, and brought back a home run in what could ultimately be the catch of the year. Although the Brewers ended up losing the game, this catch had that “WOW” factor that will make it stick in fans’ memories for a long, long time.

  1. Christian Yelich walks off the Cubs

The first of two walkoffs against the Cubs on this list, this moment proved pivotal in kickstarting the Brewers’ run to a playoff berth. Sitting four games back of the Chicago Cubs and the second wild card spot entering the day, the Brewers needed to string together some wins to make progress in the hunt. The Crew entered the bottom of the ninth having tied the game in the previous inning on a Yasmani Grandal home run. Tyler Austin reached on an infield error, but the game looked like it could be headed to extra innings after Trent Grisham and Yasmani Grandal failed to reach base. Christian Yelich had other ideas, as he stroked a two-out double past a diving Kyle Schwarber, scoring Austin from first base and causing Miller Park to erupt.

  1. Keston Hiura walks off the Cubs

In this matchup, the Brewers entered the game trailing the Cubs by one game in the wild card race. With the July trade deadline looming just days away, the Brewers needed to cement their status as contenders in order to justify the deadline moves they would go on to make. This game was a fight all the way through. The Crew battled their way back into it by erasing a two-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a solo home run from Ben Gamel and an RBI-double from Keston Hiura. The game then went on to extras, with the Cubs taking the lead in the top of the tenth after Albert Almora went deep. With closer Craig Kimbrel on to close the game in the bottom of the inning, Christian Yelich tied the game with a bomb to left center field. After a Tyler Saladino walk put the winning run on base, Keston Hiura decided it was time to go home and hit an absolute laser of a line drive over the right field wall. Hiura’s reaction while rounding the bases will be a classic Brewers’ moment for years to come.

  1. Lorenzo Cain saves Opening Day with a game-ending home run robbery

Opening Day had a playoff game vibe as fans clung to memories of the Brewers’ run to Game 7 of the NLCS in 2018. This game had a little bit of all that made 2018 magical, as Christian Yelich hit a three run homer to give the Brewers an early lead, weird stuff happened (how else do you describe a Jhoulys Chacin home run?), and Josh Hader came on for a two-inning save. Down to the final out needed to send the fans home happy, Jose Martinez sent a high fly ball to right-center field that looked to be trouble. Lorenzo Cain raced back to wall, leaped, and said, “Not today”, pulling back what would’ve been a game-tying home run. It was the perfect possible ending to Opening Day.

  1. Ryan Braun – “The St. Louis Slam”

The Brewers sat one game back of the Cubs for the second wild card slot entering this pivotal series finale against the Cardinals. Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Braun strode to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. After working his way to a full count, he went full vintage September Braun, launching a grand slam over the deep left center field wall. It was the most defining moment of the Brewers September surge, one that I would like to formally dub “The St. Louis Slam”. This one will go down as one of Braun’s most iconic moments, along with his grand slam against the Pirates in September of 2008 and his division-clinching home run off of Miller Park’s center field scoreboard against the Marlins in 2011.

The Brewers won’t give up on Josh Hader

Let’s get one thing clear, Josh Hader has the potential to be one of the greatest pitchers in Brewer franchise history. Without Josh Hader, the Brewers would not have been close to being in the playoffs in 2018 or 2019. People seem to forget that Hader is only 25-years-old and with young pitchers comes learning curves. 

The reason I am writing this article is because of the unnecessary hate Josh Hader has been getting for his blown save in the NL Wild Card game. I’ve read things on social media like, “Hader can get the hell out of Milwaukee” and “I hope the Brewers trade Hader. He’s worthless.” These are the same fans who roasted Jeremy Jeffress for what he did in the 2018 Postseason without remembering he was the main reason they were in that position in the first place.

Now I’m on the side where I believe Counsell should have started Drew Pomeranz in the eighth and saw how it went before bringing in Hader but that’s not what happened and no amount of complaining will change that. For fans to see what Hader did and call for his head, that’s irrational. 

Statistically, Counsell made the correct decision bringing Hader in to pitch the eighth in the biggest game of the season. During the regular season, Hader pitched 2 or more innings in a game 14 times and only gave up a combined 3 earned runs. Also, when Hader was in the 2-out bases loaded jam with left-handed, Juan Soto, at the plate, Counsell had the lefty on lefty matchup that any manager would want. Soto ended up rocking a single which was a statistical anomaly in its own right. Josh Hader faced 66 left handed batter during the season and only gave up a single to ONE of them until Juan Soto delivered for the Nationals. If you’re looking at the numbers objectively, Counsell made the correct move by pitching Hader and leaving him in. Josh Hader was the best pitcher on the Brewers during the 2019 season and I’m okay living or dying with him. 

I know a lot of people have issues with Josh Hader’s blown save numbers, but that’s a problem every fan base has. For example, Josh Hader has had 13 blown saves in his first 3 seasons in the big leagues. To put that number in perspective, Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all-time, had 17 blown saves in his first three seasons as a full-time reliever. Francisco Rodriguez had 16, Lee Smith had 14, and Trevor Hoffman tied Josh Hader in blown saves after his first three years with 13. It just goes to show that even the greatest closers the game has ever seen have taken a few years to really become dominant. 

Also, it’s not like Hader hadn’t improved in 2019 after his unreal 2018 season. His 2019 numbers were very similar except his SO9 went up and his WHIP went down. He only had 2 more blown saves in 2019 on far more save opportunities. When it comes to the rest of the league in 2019, Josh Hader tied New York’s, Aroldis Chapman, for 3rd in the entire league in saves only behind Roberto Osuna and Kirby Yates. 

When it comes to the MLB’s closers, Josh Hader is already one of the best. A few bad outings, even though they were huge games, shouldn’t be the end all be all for his time in Milwaukee as the closer. I can think of 29 other teams who would be more than happy to take him off our hands which means it would be idiotic to get rid of him. Brewer fans will need to move on from the Wild Card game and let Hader develop into the lights out closer he’s going to be whether that comes with growing pains or not. 

5 Things the Brewers Must Do This Offseason

     It was another successful season for Milwaukee Brewers baseball, even if it ended with heartbreak. The team showed resiliency and fight throughout the entire 162-game schedule. If the team takes each of these five steps, they will be set up for another pennant run in 2020 and beyond.

  1.       Re-Sign Yasmani Grandal

In his first season as a Brewer, Yasmani Grandal had a profound offensive impact at the catcher position that Milwaukee has not had since Jonathan Lucroy. He set franchise records for home runs as a catcher (28) and walks (109). Aside from his prowess at the plate, Grandal proved to be a solid game-manager and pitch-framer. He has a $16M mutual option with Milwaukee for the 2020 season and it is likely that the two sides will be able to come to terms on a deal that would keep Yaz a Brewer for at least another few years.

 

  1.       Develop Josh Hader’s Pitch Arsenal

2019 Josh Hader, though dominant at times, was exposed for his lack of a second reliable pitch on too many occasions, with the most crucial instance being in the Wild Card Game where his lack of command was the Brewers’ downfall in a previously well-executed team performance. His heater can be one of the most unhittable pitches in all of baseball, but it becomes predictable without the presence of a slider to pair with it. Milwaukee’s coaching staff will need to come up with a game plan that will develop Hader’s slider as an effective secondary threat to his fastball, which will reduce the number blown saves (7 in 2019) and longballs he gives up (15 in 2019) for the future. He is still just 25 years old, so there is ample reason to believe he will adapt and re-discover his dominance.

 

  1.       Determine the Future of Jimmy Nelson & Travis Shaw

If you watched Brewers baseball at all in 2019, you would have noticed the absence of any sort of production from Travis Shaw. Shaw, who was a vital piece of both the 2017 and 2018 Brewers simply could not find consistency at the plate this season, (.157 BA, 7HR) and the reason is unknown to himself and all others associated with the team. Decisions will have to be made as to whether a season as dismal as this one warrants a second chance.

As for Jimmy Nelson, unfortunately he has failed to re-gain his status as an all-star caliber starting pitcher ever since his shoulder injury in 2017. He could perhaps provide value as a relief pitcher if the Milwaukee front office decides he is worth the gamble based on his past performance. Given how classy and resilient Jimmy has been throughout his arduous rehab process, it is likely he will continue to be a part of the team in some capacity.

 

  1.       Bring back Jordan Lyles

Jordan Lyles was sensational in his time with Milwaukee in 2019 and was a huge part of why they were able to crawl out of third place and make the postseason. He went 7-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts for the Crew. Given the uncertainty that still surrounds the starting staff, bringing back Lyles as a steady, trustworthy presence every fifth day would do wonders for the team. Offering him a short-term deal would be a smart play for GM David Stearns.

  1.       Ensure the Full Recovery of Injured Players

Milwaukee was a banged-up team in 2019. Corey Knebel’s season ended before it began due to Tommy John surgery, and along the way the team dealt with injuries to key players, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, Lorenzo Cain, and of course, the MVP Christian Yelich. Making sure each of these players is 100% healthy heading into the 2020 season will go a long way in the team’s quest to make the leap they want to make- to become a true World Series caliber team.

 

 

 

 

September is the Brewers’ friend

There’s something about late-season baseball that makes Milwaukee turn the tide

By Tyler Job

There’s been a trend in recent years when it comes to the Milwaukee Brewers: they become one of baseball’s best teams when the calendar hits September.

It started even before the Brewers won their second National League Central division title in 2018. In 2017, Milwaukee was still considered a rebuilding team and hardly anyone anticipated the team to be in the playoff race.

Yet the Brewers stayed in the hunt all season long. They were eliminated from playoff contention on the second last day of the season by the St. Louis Cardinals in heartbreaking fashion, 7-6. Milwaukee finished just one game back of the second wild card spot to the Colorado Rockies.

Things changed once 2018 hit. The Brewers made headlines in January when they traded for Christian Yelich and signed Lorenzo Cain to a five-year deal, almost instantly making them a better team than the year prior.

The Brewers stayed in the division race the entire season, but found themselves trailing the Chicago Cubs by five and a half games after September 1.

Some thought getting a division title was over, but the Brew Crew ensured to not make that a reality.

Milwaukee went 19-6 the rest of the month, including ending September on a seven-game winning streak. The Brewers’ pitching was not great during their winning streak either (they allowed four or more runs in five of the seven games), but Yelich proved to be an unstoppable force by hitting five homers in their last seven games.

Yelich’s MVP-like hitting carried the Brewers all the way to a tiebreaker game for the division title against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and as most recall, Milwaukee took care of business and claimed the NL Central crown for the second time in franchise history. As a treat, the Brewers earned themselves the number one seed in the NL.

Expectations ran rampant among the Milwaukee faithful before the 2019 campaign started. David Stearns kept most of the 2018 roster intact and added power-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one-year deal. Grandal spent four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to joining the Brewers.

Despite retaining the majority of the roster, the Brewers treaded water from the beginning of the season until the end of August. Milwaukee was 69-66 and did not hold a wild card spot at the time.

A lot of the team’s issues had to do with its pitching leading up to September. Jhoulys Chacin, who was the opening day starter and Brewers ace the year prior, fell off a cliff and eventually got designated for assignment. Chacin was 3-10 with a 5.79 earned run average. Jeremy Jeffress, the former all-star closer, never got it going and ultimately got released. He had a 5.02 ERA at the time of his release. Josh Hader was struggling by giving up career highs in homers.

The Brewers lost big-time to the Cubs at Miller Park, 10-5, Sept. 5 and fell five games back of the second wild card spot to Chicago.

The feeling was bitter. The mood was somber. Nothing seemed to just be clicking properly.

But suddenly, the Brewers took all of their issues, curled them up into a ball, threw it out the window, and hit the largest reset button they have ever encountered.

Following their 10-5 loss to Chicago, the Crew went on a seven-game winning streak, winning three out of four against the Cubs and sweeping the Miami Marlins on the road.

But then, trouble ensued in the clubhouse during the Miami road trip when Yelich hit a foul ball that bounced perfectly off his right knee cap. The impact instantly fractured his kneecap, and Milwaukee lost its MVP. Fortunately for the Brewers, they kept winning.

Milwaukee struck a barrier in St. Louis, dropping its first game 10-0. But the team rallied to win the last two games of the series and keep its playoff hopes alive. Ryan Braun showed his vintage self in the final game against the Cards by striking a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch in the ninth inning to give the Brewers the lead.

The Cubs collapsed, while the Brewers kept steaming along. The Crew won eight of nine games following their series against the Cardinals and clinched a playoff spot against the Cincinnati Reds by winning 9-2 Sept. 25. Braun started the scoring that game with a grand slam in the first inning and Milwaukee never looked back. His grand slam was the moment that defined this unbelievable run.

After struggling all season long, Milwaukee’s team ERA up to clinching a playoff spot was a league-best 2.77. Stearns’ decisions calling up Adrian Houser and trading for Jordan Lyles made a big difference to the team’s overall pitching. It helped the Brewers go the postseason in back-to-back years since 1981-82. Pitching matters.

The Brewers were almost able to at least force a tiebreaker game for the division, but ended the season just one game back of the Cardinals in the NL Central. Milwaukee ended the season with a 90-72 record, giving the team its eighth 90-win season in franchise history.

Whatever the postseason result may be, remember the Crew conquered the ultimate underdog story. They went from a mediocre team to a playoff team within the span of three weeks. It’s a feat that is very rarely accomplished in baseball, and one of the greatest underdog stories in Wisconsin sports history.

On to October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predicting the Brewers’ Potential Wild Card Game Lineup

On September 10th, the Milwaukee Brewers’ alpha-dog, MVP right-fielder Christian Yelich fouled an inside fastball off his kneecap, fracturing his knee and fracturing the team’s playoff hopes at the time as well.

 

Since then, the team has gone 13-2 and has not only caught up to the Chicago Cubs, but has surpassed them by six games and is now only one game back of the Nationals for the top wild-card spot.

Milwaukee has, as of Wednesday, clinched a postseason berth for the second consecutive season. While the Crew is still alive in the NL Central race (1GB of STL) the most likely scenario will be that they play in the wild card game, so let’s theorize how Craig Counsell and his staff will approach this do-or-die situation.

 

Since the Nationals would almost certainly give Max Scherzer the ball in this game, Craig Counsell needs to construct a lineup that poses the biggest threat to one of the best pitchers in the game today. My prediction is this:

 

  1. Trent Grisham, RF
  2. Yasmani Grandal, C
  3. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  4. Ryan Braun, LF
  5. Eric Thames, 1B
  6. Lorenzo Cain, CF
  7. Cory Spangenberg, 2B
  8. Orlando Arcia, SS
  9. Brandon Woodruff, P

 

This is a lineup somewhat heavy on left-handed hitters, with  5 out of the 8 position players batting lefty, which is a matchup-friendly approach against the right-handed Scherzer. Look for Eric Thames to have a solid performance due to his relative career success against Max Scherzer, with a lifetime .333 average and multiple extra-base hits against the future hall-of-famer.

 

It might come as a surprise to some to see Cory Spangenberg, who spent most of the season in Triple-A getting the start, but the reason I predict this will happen is because of Keston Hiura’s general defensive struggles and putting the left-handed Cory Spangenberg in the starting lineup gives Counsell a potent right-handed bat to use in a pinch-hit setting in Hiura.

 

I predict Brandon Woodruff will start this game due to his recent success acting as an “initial out-getter” since coming back from injury. Given Milwaukee’s success at “bullpenning” during their recent surge, it would not be surprising if they went with that approach in this critical one-game playoff. Expect Brent Suter, Drew Pomeranz, and Josh Hader to pitch in this game as well. It will be imperative for Milwaukee to not play from behind, so getting two or three clean innings from Woodruff to start the game would go a long way.

 

The Nationals are a tough team and pose a daunting challenge with ace Max Scherzer and a potent offense led by Anthony Rendon. Yelich’s presence will surely be missed, but expect a close, low-scoring game with Milwaukee continuing their hot streak and coming out on top 4-2.

 

The Brewers have Clinched a spot in the 2019 Postseason

After an unrealistic September, the greatest in team history, the Brewers finally clinched a playoff spot Wednesday night with a 9-2 win over the Reds…

 

As soon as Reds pitcher, Tyler Mahle, stepped on the mound, Milwaukee already had the game in the bag. After a grand slam in the first inning by Ryan Braun which was followed up with a solo shot from Eric Thames, the Brewers never took their foot off the gas. Jordan Lyles pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 runs and then the bullpen took over and threw 4 scoreless innings. Once Cory Spangenberg made the final out, the arms went up and the dugout cleared to the field. The celebration ensued in the dugout while there was plenty of champagne, cigars, and Miller Lite to go around. However, there was still a general feeling that this Brewers team was not done. 

Going into September, the Brewers were 3rd in the division at 69-66 and were 6.5 games back of the first place Cardinals. Everybody knew if the Brewers were going to make the playoffs, they would have to go on a remarkable run. The Brewers accepted the challenge and have preceded to go 19-4 in September and 10-1 in their last 11. Christian Yelich went down with an injury on September 10th and that’s when Brewer fans were ready to accept their collective demise. Instead, the team has gone 12-2 since the MVP went down. They have been led by the veteran, Ryan Braun, who has hit .259 in the month of September with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs and they have also been led by the entire pitching staff. The pitching staff has stepped up and is putting on their best performances of the season. 

2019 will be Milwaukee’s 3rd time making the postseason in the past 9 years. If the season ended today, Milwaukee would be going to Washington to matchup against Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg. Although, the season isn’t over, the Brewers are only 1.5 games back of the division lead with 4 games left. No matter what happens, making the postseason in any capacity is great for an organization. Year after year the Brewers are proving themselves to be one of the best franchises in baseball by continuing to make the playoffs. 

MLB Pipeline names Trey Supak Milwaukee’s Top Pitching Prospect

MLB Pipeline is the premier spot for prospect news and rankings. Every year the Pipeline goes through each team and names their best hitting and pitching prospect. To qualify, the players had to have spent half the year in the minors and they had to have appeared on the Pipeline’s Top 30 list for each team. For the Brewers, Trent Grisham was rated the best hitter which was an easy, unsurprising choice, and for the best Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect, MLB Pipeline went with Trey Supak. 

Trey Supak is a 23-year-old, 6’5” 240 pound righty who has been pitching in the minors since he was 18 back in 2014. Supak has four pitches which are a fastball, curveball, changeup, and cutter, that he can throw for strikes. He has confidence to throw each pitch no matter the count which makes him a very effective pitcher. Despite his enormous size, Supak only has average velocity, he throws his fastball in the low to mid 90s but can sometimes reach 95. He is a pitcher who projects to be a number four or five starter in the majors. 

This season, when combining Supak’s AA and AAA numbers, he was 12-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 152.2 innings pitched. He also had 118 strikeouts and a very good WHIP of 1.028. Although he had a very consistent year, Supak demonstrated the ability to dominate at times. In fact, he came one out away from a no-hitter twice in Double-A. 

Next season, Supak is almost a lock to start next season in Triple-A barring any setbacks or incredible spring training play. If he shows success at the Triple-A level, Brewer fans should expect to see the righty as soon as late May or early June.