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Thursday, October 17th 2019
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The Brewers Approach to the Plate in the First Half

The Brewers approach at the plate has been one key ingredient within the Brewer’s success the first half of the season – prior to the recent struggles. They have looked like a different team in the box compared to years past. Over the first half I have seen previous “free swingers” tone it down in the box allowing them to get deeper into counts. Two big keys have been the amount of pitches per at bat and two out RBI’s. There are many more outstanding numbers pertaining to their approach at the plate, but these two are the headliners.

 

Pitches Seen Per At-Bat

This is something so important, it is the best way to quickly get into a opposing team’s bullpen. This has become a team strength. The team average is 4.43 pitches per at-bat. If every Brewer hitter in the lineup takes four pitches in each of their at-bats and the pitcher goes through the lineup three times, the pitcher throws 108 pitches. 108 pitches will usually spell “game-over” for an average starting pitcher. Therefore, getting into their bullpen quicker.

 

If this pattern is followed in a three game series, it may not impact the bullpen in the first game, but the bullpen wears over the series. Pitches seen per at-bat may seem ridiculous to track, but it can make all the difference, and it for sure has in the first half.

Team Leaders (100+ AB)

Name Avg. Pitches seen per AB
Jesus Aguilar 5.02
Travis Shaw 4.81
Lorenzo Cain 4.77

 

Two Out RBI’s

This is something that this Brewers team has done so incredibly well. Nearly 34% of the team’s RBI’s this season have come with two outs with men in scoring position. This has not only come from the top of the lineup, but also from the bottom.

 

This goes into the character of the team. Many have said that with this team, “you have to play all 27 outs”. You also have to say that you must play all three outs per inning.

Team Leaders (RBi’s with men in scoring position)

Name RBI’s
Ryan Braun 20
Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw 16
Jesus Aguilar 15

 

This team continues to grind out at-bats into deep counts as well as continue to compete with two outs – even through the recent struggles. This in the first half have helped the Brewers become a dangerous team. Continuing to do these things in the second half, with the potential of adding another bat, this team is going to be really fun to watch.

NLCS Game 3 Recap

After the Brewers lost a heartbreaker in Milwaukee on Saturday, the series shifted to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5. To secure a chance for a Game 6 at Miller Park, the Brewers needed to win at least one game in Los Angeles. After a stressful game that went down to the wire, Milwaukee pulled out another win. Here’s how it all went down.

Top 1

After leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, struck out to the 98 mph heat throwing starter of Walker Buehler, it looked to be a tough day for the crew. NL MVP favorite, Christian Yelich, started his at-bat down 1-2. Yelich’s first plate appearance looked grim, as the Milwaukee slugger has been struggling with a .180 post season average. However, like most of the regular season, Yelich worked the Pitcher and took three straight balls to walk. Next batter up, Ryan Braun, smashed a double down the left field line on a 1-1 count, reaching second base and scoring Yelich, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead. Travis Shaw would strikeout looking and Jesus Aguilar would strikeout swinging to end the inning.

 

Bot 1

Jhoulys Chacin looked for redemption in Dodger Stadium as his last start against Los Angeles resulted in an early 5th inning exit. In the 21-5 loss in July, Chacin gave up five hits, eight earned runs, three home runs, and three walks. Unfortunately for Chacin, he would face three of the most fearsome hitters to start off a game. However, as the Brewers ace, Chacin was dialed in from the get go. In 15 first inning pitches, Jhoulys struck out Joc Pederson and Max Muncy, while finishing Justin Turner with a groundout to shortstop.

 

Top 2

Buehler really started to groove in his pitching after giving up one run in the first inning. He would strikeout Mike Moustakas and Erik Kratz in back to back plate appearances. After Orlando Arcia reached on an error by shortstop Manny Machado (It should’ve been a hit), Buehler would finish off Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin with a flyout to the second baseman, Kike Hernandez.

 

Bot 2

Jhoulys’ night wouldn’t get any easier as he would have to face the red hot Manny Machado. In a 2-1 hitters count, Machado ripped a lead off single to left field. Struggling Center Fielder, Cody Bellinger would ground out into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop in which Machado looked to interfere. Brewers Manager, Craig Counsell, argued with the umpires, but after discussion there was no review. In the next at-bat, Yasiel Puig doubled to left sending Machado to third base. With two runners in scoring position (RISP), Catcher Yasmani Grandal would strikeout looking. Manager Craig Counsell would then intentionally walk the eight hole hitter, Kike Hernandez, in effort to face the Pitcher, Walker Buehler. After working a 2-2 count, Buehler would strikeout looking, leaving two RISP.

 

Top 3

Even though the Brewers started the third inning with the top of their order, Walker Buehler would go three up, three down. Lorenzo Cain would line out to centerfield and Christian Yelich would groundout to the shortstop. Buehler then struckout Ryan Braun finishing the inning with only 13 pitches.

 

Bot 3

Just like Buehler, Chacin would start to groove in the crucial Game 3. Jhoulys faced the top of the Dodgers order making Pederson groundout to shortstop, Muncy fly out to left field and Turner ground out to third base.

 

Top 4

Buehler would surrender one base runner and 17 pitches in the fourth inning, but remained strong. Travis Shaw would groundout to first and Jesus Aguilar would groundout to second. After giving up a single to Mike Moustakas, Buehler would get Erik Kratz to fly out to second base.

 

Bot 4

Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado would walk on five pitches, leaving Cody Bellinger a chance to yet again tie the game. After what seemed to be a fielder’s choice from first to second base, Counsell wanted to review Machado’s slide into shortstop Orlando Arcia. After review, it was found that Machado intentionally slid out of the base path and grabbed Arcia, to prevent the double play. Head umpire, Gerry Davis, would rule both Machado and Bellinger out, resulting in a 3-6-1 double play. Killing all momentum the Dodgers had, Yasiel Puig would groundout to Mike Moustakas to end the inning.

 

Top 5

Buehler really started to stroll along getting nine of his last ten batters out. Orlando Arcia and Jhoulys Chacin would both strikeout, as leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, would groundout to second base.

 

Bot 5

Chacin would start off shaky in the fifth inning giving up a double to the Brewers NLCS MVP, Yasmani Grandal. However, in the next at-bat Jhoulys would get a key flyout to left from Kike Hernandez. Dodgers Manager, Dave Roberts, would now have to face the decision of keeping in his best Pitcher, or pinch-hitting him to tie the game with a RISP. Roberts would stick with Buehler who eventually struck out looking. With two outs, Joc Pederson would fly out to centerfield leaving yet another RISP.

 

Top 6

Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun would both groundout to Manny Machado to start the beginning of the sixth inning. However, Travis Shaw would finally catch a piece of Buehler, tripling to deep right center field. After a wild pitch got passed the Brewers MVP, Yasmani Grandal, Travis Shaw scored. Jesus Aguilar would groundout to third base to end the inning with a two run Milwaukee lead.

 

Bot 6

After Starting Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin got Max Muncy to strikeout swinging, he would run into trouble against Justin Turner. A hard hit ball to Mike Moustakas lead to a throwing error giving Turner second base. With only a two run lead, Counsell went to his trusted relief pitcher, Corey Knebel. On the first pitch, Knebel would get Manny Machado to ground out to third base, Turner at second. With two outs in a close game, Knebel would get Cody Bellinger to strike out with a RISP.

 

Top 7

After Mike Moustakas grounded out to second base to lead off the seventh inning, Buehler was in for a rude awakening. Veteran Catcher, Erik Kratz, unleashed a double to left field on the first pitch. With Kratz in scoring position, Mr. October took over. Arcia, who is now on a 12 game hitting streak, took advantage of the tired pitcher. Arcia launched a two run home run to opposite field, giving the Brewers a four run advantage. After a double switch by Craig Counsell to strengthen defense, Hernan Perez was due to hit. Perez would fly out to right field and Cain would fly out to center field to end the inning. After giving up four runs, and his spot coming up in the order, Buehler would exit the game.

 

Bot 7

Yet again, Knebel would finish his night strong. Knebel would Strike out the side of hitters Puig, Grandal and Hernandez on 13 pitches. Corey would finish with 19 pitches on the night, leaving him a chance to be available for Game 4 if needed.

 

Top 8

The Brewers would threaten to score in the eighth inning but wouldn’t score. Yelich would lead off with a bunt single down the third baseline. After Ryan Braun hit a “Texas-leaguer” in front of Right Fielder Yasiel Puig, Yelich was thrown out at second base. Though Ryan Braun seemed mad at the moment, Yelich thought there was a chance of getting doubled up at first. (Rather be safe than sorry on the base paths.) After tripling in the sixth inning, Travis Shaw would strikeout, leaving two outs for pinch-hitter Domingo Santana. In the regular season as a pinch-hitter, Santana hit a cool 12-for-29 (.413). Keeping this in mind with a RISP, Dave Roberts intentionally walked Santana. Roberts move would prove to work as Moustakas would fly out to right field, ending the eighth inning.

 

Bot 8

Trying not to use Josh Hader right away, Counsell called Joakim Soria to pitch. After throwing just four pitches, Chris Taylor would fly out to the first basemen to secure one out in the eighth. With the top of the order coming up, Counsell again called the bullpen to get LHP Josh Hader to finish the job. Even though Roberts would switch out Pederson and Muncy for Freese and Kemp, the Dodgers would be no match for Haderade. Only throwing eight pitches total, Josh Hader struck out both hitters leading the Brewers to the ninth inning.

 

Top 9

Heading into the ninth inning, Counsell hoped to get some insurance runs for his Closer. Erik Kratz would lead off the inning with a walk but a fielder’s choice by Arcia would lead to an out. Perez would rip a single to left field advancing Arcia to second base. While Cain attempted to score both Arcia and Perez on a 2-2 hit and run, the center fielder struck out. Without making contact, Cain left Perez caught stealing, and ending the hopeful ninth inning.

 

Bot 9

Feeling confident in the four run lead and wanting to save Hader for possible use in Game 5, Counsell left the LHP on the bench. Enter Jeremy Jeffress. While being absolutely dominant in the regular season with an 8-1 record, 15 saves and a 1.29 ERA, Jeffress has been anything but that in the playoffs. After blowing two saves (Game 1 NLDS/Game 2 NLCS), Counsell went to Jeffress out of the pen to boost his confidence. While being rattled right away from a single by Justin Turner up the middle, it got worse. Manny Machado would smash a double down the right field line, putting two RISP. Luckily, Jeffress would settle down and get an out from Cody Bellinger. Bellinger would pop up to the shortstop giving the Brewers one out. Jeffress would then walk Puig on four straight pitches leaving Counsell to call to the bullpen to start warming up Junior Guerra. However, Jeffress would get three straight strikes against guess who? Brewers NLCS MVP, Yasmani Grandal. (Love that guy). With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, all pressure was on JJ to perform. On a 1-2 count, Jeffress blew a 96 mph fastball passed Brian Dozier to lead the Brewers to a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers.

 

After Monday’s win, the Brewers take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. This win secures the chance for the Brewers to come back to Milwaukee for Game 6, if needed. Game 4 will be held in Los Angeles at 8:09 CST. Gio Gonzalez will lead the Brewers into what seems to be another bullpen game.

Chasing October: Brewers Trade Targets

The Brewers currently sit atop the NL Central with a record of 52-35. However, to win their first division title since 2011 (and inject misery into the hearts of hordes of Cubs fans), they will need to upgrade their roster as it currently stands. The Brewers have a bevy of needs across the board, most notably at either of the middle infield positions, the bullpen, or the front of the rotation. Here are some players the Brewers have either been linked to or should target in the weeks leading up to the July 31st deadline (for your peace of mind or lack thereof, a “Keston Hiura trade inclusivity” field has been added for each target):

Starting Pitcher

Noah Syndergaard and Jacob DeGrom – These two are the “elite” options that the Brewers could pursue to give their rotation a massive upgrade. DeGrom comes with 2.5 years of controllability and a sterling 1.84 ERA. He is likely a top-5 arm in the MLB, and is likely one of the very few players the Brewers would give up Keston Hiura for. Syndergaard is probably on that list as well. He has 3.5 years of controllability remaining, but comes with some injury concerns. He is an ace nonetheless, and currently sports an ERA of 3.06. Acquiring one of these arms would clear the top of the Brewers farm, but that may be the price for a deep postseason run in Milwaukee. Recent reports have pegged these two as now being off the market, but you’d have to think the Mets would pull the trigger if the offer is right. Requires Hiura: Yes and Yes

Michael Fulmer – Fulmer is a young arm that is on the peak of greatness. After an impressive rookie campaign for Detroit in 2016, many thought we would see Fulmer emerge as a bonafide ace in 2017. However, injuries hampered his effectiveness, and his struggles have seemed to dampen his outlook for the time being.  He still holds great potential as a front-end starter and would require a combination of high-level prospects to pry him away from Detroit. He currently holds a 4.22 ERA with a mediocre K/9 of 7.62, so the Tigers may want to hang onto him and try to rebuild his one sky-high value. Requires Hiura: Maybe

Middle Infield

Manny Machado – The Orioles shortstop/third baseman has been floated as a trade possibility for the Crew, and for good reason. He is an elite MVP level talent, and is currently hitting .308/.378/.561. He is poised to land a massive free agent contract in the offseason, meaning that he would only be a Brewer for half of a season. His price could be too high for Stearns to pull the trigger on a rental, but anything is possible. Requires Hiura: Maybe

Jed Lowrie – Aside from Manny Machado, Lowrie is likely the next-best infielder that could be on the trading block this July. The Athletics are just barely hanging on to their playoff aspirations, as they sit 7 games back of the second wild card in the AL. Lowrie offers the positional versatility the Brewers covet (can play both positions up the middle) and would be a drastic offensive upgrade at either middle infield position. He is currently hitting .291/.357/.498 with 14 HR, and has accrued 3.1 WAR thus far. Lowrie is on the last year of his contract making him a pure rental, but he could be part of what pushes the Brewers over the top. Requires Hiura: No

Derek Dietrich – Dietrich was connected to the Brewers a couple weeks ago as a trade target, and for good reason. The Miami utility man could fill Milwaukee’s second base hole while providing a great offensive boost. He is currently hitting .287/.346/.459, but does not grade out as well defensively. He will certainly be available as the Marlins continue their firesale, and would come with a moderate price tag that the Brewers should be able to easily meet. Requires Hiura: No

Whit Merrifield – Merrifield is yet another second base option that should be available due to the Royals rebuild. His offense has taken a slight step back this year in the power department, but he had made up for it with improved plate discipline. He would certainly be an upgrade for the Crew with his .288/.358/.411 slash line. Merrifield likely will have a higher price than Dietrich due to his 3 remaining years of controllability. Requires Hiura: No

Bullpen

Who knows. A multitude of names are available, but it ultimately will come down to price and fit for David Stearns.

Additional Possibilities

Catcher:Wilson Ramos, JT Realmuto – The price on Realmuto will be high, but the Brewers are struggling to generate offense behind the dish. Both Ramos and Realmuto are offensively sound, and don’t sacrifice any skill defensively either. Requires Hiura: Ramos – No, Realmuto – Yes

Rotation Depth: J.A. Happ – Even though Stearns has stated publicly he will look for a starter to lead the rotation, Happ would be the best fallback option should he decide to go for depth. He won’t command the sky high prospect haul of Syndergaard or DeGrom, but the price won’t be cheap to acquire his services. Requires Hiura: No

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. 

Brewers Potential Trade Targets: Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner

   It has been over a month since the Brewers’ deep and thrilling playoff run ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the NLCS. Now that the 2018 season is in the rearview, it is time for David Stearns & co. to explore their options to reload the team to ensure last season’s contention was not an aberration.

Something Milwaukee lacked in 2018 and has lacked for quite some time is a bona fide, all-star level starting pitcher. While it is true that manager Craig Counsell’s philosophy values relief pitching to an extreme degree, that style of management isn’t sustainable throughout the course of a 162-game regular season like it is over a playoff run where every single pitch is critical. That said, there are some intriguing starting pitchers potentially on the market for the Brewers to use their deep farm system to trade for. Two names stick out in particular, Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner. Let’s explore these possibilities and what it will take to pull them off.

 

Noah Syndergaard:

The 26-year-old, flame-throwing right hander is one of baseball’s top pitchers when healthy. Combine his talent with the fact that he does not hit free agency until 2022, and you’re looking at one of the most attractive potential trade targets in baseball. On Wednesday, Andy Martino of SNY singled out the Brewers and the Rockies as two teams expressing interest in trading for Syndergaard. The Brewers’ front office has showed reluctance in giving up the organization’s top prospect, Keston Hiura, so with that in mind, my potential package will not include him. With Orlando Arcia showing this postseason that he is capable of being the shortstop of the future and Hiura looking like the second baseman of the future, infield prospect Mauricio Dubon makes sense as a part of this potential trade. All in all, I believe the Brewers would have to give up Corey Ray, Mauricio Dubon, and Zack Brown to get the Mets to bite on a deal.

 

Madison Bumgarner:

Another ace-level hurler Milwaukee may be considering making a move for is 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. This potential deal is a bit risky, given that Bumgarner only has one season of team control and he hasn’t been his normal dominant self the last two seasons due in large part to injury. However, his services might be worth the risk because the Crew could re-sign him once his contract expires, and he could be the missing piece to the elusive World Series title. He has already won three commissioner’s trophies with the San Francisco Giants, and has proven he brings his best stuff to the table in the biggest of games. The asking price for Bumgarner would certainly be lower than Syndergaard, so with that being said I think the Brewers could entice the Giants with an offer of fourth-ranked organizational prospect Tristen Lutz, and RHP Cody Ponce as a complimentary piece.

 

As is abundantly clear from last season, The Milwaukee Brewers bullpen does not need improvement. Led by Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, the Brewers pen was the consensus best in the National League. Also of note is that some Brewers starters, namely Wade Miley and Gio Gonzalez are free agents and could very well be pitching elsewhere next season. This offseason has already seen a large-scale trade involving a starting pitcher, or should I say, “initial out-getter”, with James Paxton getting moved to the New York Yankees. Clearly the Brewers aren’t on the Yankees’ level in terms of market size, but who says they can’t follow suit and snag a big time starter of their own?

 

The Emergence of Travis Shaw

Background

David Stearns’ managerial magic has been showing all season with the rewards of a bevy of trades from the season before, leaving the team with their several well-known players being replaced by numerous top prospects. One of the trades last season among the blockbusters that included the departure of Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, and Khris Davis, was the decision to move Tyler Thornburg to the Boston Red Sox.

Thornburg, a very good reliever for the Brewers was traded to a contender that needed him, in exchange for three players including short-lived Major Leaguer, Travis Shaw. As this season reaches its midway point, this lesser known trade has become one of Stearns’ defining decisions in bringing in a cornerstone third-basemen for the Milwaukee Brewers. While Thornburg is still yet to pitch an inning for the Red Sox because of an injury, Shaw has become one of the most important players of the Brewers overhauled roster.

Performance

Over the last few games, Travis Shaw has shown time and time again why he should be considered for this year’s National League All-Star team. Batting .294 with 17 Home Runs, including three in his past three games as of June 30, Shaw has put on a show for Brewers fans. “The Mayor of Ding Dong City” came to the team without a clear starting role, but he has now established in himself as the Brewers third basemen and maybe the most reliable and effective hitter while Ryan Braun was on the DL.

Shaw’s stats resemble other top NL 3B including Nolan Arenado, who he currently ties in wOBA. His home run total is already more than he had the previous year and with half as many games played. The left-handed hitter has been a major source of consistency for the Brewers down the road. He also continues to show improvement as his strikeout to hit ratio continues to decrease, and his power surges.

Looking On

With the Brewers holding his contract until at least 2021, Stearns has found another face of a rebuilding team that can continue to grow while maintaining a realistic payroll. Stearns continues to target players that the Brewers can control and develop so that several years down the road, there will be pieces for a serious title run. His approach can be read about further in this earlier article. As it stands right now, it seems the Brewers are much closer to this plan than expected as they continue to hold their own atop the NL Central in part because of a potential All-Star in Travis Shaw.

(NL Central Standings Per ESPN.com)

Brewers Come Down to Earth against Cubs, Cards

Brewers Week in Review: @ CHC, vs. St. Louis

Chicago Cubs: 4/17-4/19

Record: 1-2

Results: 6-3 W, 9-7 L, 7-4 L

Star of the Series: Jett Bandy (4-for-7, 2 HR, 2 RBI)

The Brewers arrived at Wrigley Field winning 5 of their last 6 games going into their last series of a 9-game road trip, and that trend continued in the first game of the series.

Jesus Aguilar: Waiver Wire Wonder

58 career at bats. A .178 career average. Twice as many career strikeouts as hits.

When you hear those numbers, they don’t sound very promising. However, those career stats belong to the biggest surprise in the Brewers’ spring camp, and he just might make the Opening Day roster.

Breaking Down Adrian Houser’s First Career Start

Last night, 26-year-old prospect, Adrian Houser, made his first career start. Houser is a bruising 6’4” 235 pounds with a sinking fastball and a nasty 12-6 curve. Currently, he is Milwaukee’s 15th ranked prospect in their farm system and 5th ranked pitcher. Houser was acquired by the Brewers back in 2015 when Milwaukee traded Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Astros. Houser has pitched in the bigs before but never started a game. Before last night he appeared in 15.2 innings for the Brewers and recorded a 2.87 ERA. He has been unstoppable in AAA so far this year. He’s started 3 games, pitched 16.1 innings, struck out 18 and has an ERA of 1.10. Batters in AAA are only hitting .172 against him. With the struggles of Corbin Burnes and Houser’s dominance in Triple-A, it was time for a call up.

Houser started his outing against 2018 NL MVP candidate Matt Carpenter and walked him on 5 pitches. Paul “Goldy” Goldschmidt was up second and Houser gave up a dinky little infield single. With 2 on and no outs, Paul DeJong struck out on three pitches and it looked like Houser got his confidence. The next batter grounded into a double play and Houser was able to successfully get out of the first inning. After 1 inning it looked like Houser settled in and ready to make work of the Cardinals. To start his second inning, the Brewers’ starter gave up a single against the shift to Jose Martinez. For the second consecutive inning, the leadoff man got on base. Yadier Molina followed by lining out to Christian Yelich in right field. The next batter, Dexter Fowler, was able to get a single and advance to second but not before Ryan Braun threw Jose Martinez out at third. 2 outs. Then, Kolten Wong went first pitch swinging and hit a single to right that scored Fowler. Finally, Adrian Houser got the opposing pitcher out to end the inning. After two innings the Cardinals were up by 1 but Houser was making the right pitches and hitting his spots. The Cardinals weren’t hitting the ball hard, they just hit the ball in the gaps. Houser started the third against the top of the order and retired the first two before giving up a double. The double didn’t amount to anything because Houser was able to get the next batter to ground out. After another lackluster top half inning for the Brewer offense, Houser opened up his half of the fourth by giving up another opposite field single to Jose Martinez. This single proved problematic because after Houser struck out Yadier Molina, Dexter Fowler rocked a fastball for a 2-run home run. Up to that point, Houser had not missed his locations but it only takes one for hitters to capitalize. The next two batters grounded out and the fourth inning ended with Milwaukee down, 3-0. Milwaukee tied the game in the top of the fifth thanks to home runs by Ryan Braun and Hernan Perez but Houser didn’t do much to thank them by giving up 2 runs in the bottom half. These runs led to Craig Counsell’s decision to pull Houser in the middle of the fifth.

Adrian Houser’s Final Stats

PC- 78 IP- 4.0 H- 9 ER- 5 SO- 3 BB- 1

My Thoughts On Houser’s Start

Adrian Houser pitched with poise and presence but struggled to get consecutive outs. Anywhere catcher, Yasmani Grandal set up, Houser hit. He did miss a couple times and that’s where the home runs came from. Besides the two long balls, nobody hit the ball extremely hard against Houser which is a good sign moving forward. His final stats won’t blow anyone away but after watching Houser’s first career start, he deserves a couple more chances. He has potential and if he could take a few pitches back, his numbers would have been outstanding.

New Year, Same Brewers

As the new year gets under way,it is the social norm to reflect on what the last year has brung. Looking at the Brewer’s past year, they made their first postseason berth since 2011. However, I can’t help but think about what came before to make the postseason roster. If you look at all the Brewers have done from drafts to trades, there are several bright spots.

Everything started after the 2014 season when the Brewers fell apart in the second half of the season. In 2015, they tried to patch things together but it didn’t work. That is when it was decided they were in operation rebuild. The following is looking back at key parts that brought us to the success of 2018.

Key Trades

Trading Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress

You may be thinking about how this trade helped propel the Brewers to the postseason. At the trade deadline in August of 2016, the Brewers traded  Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. In return they got a young outfielder in Lewis Brinson and RHP Luis Ortiz. Ring a bell?

Luis Ortiz later was  traded to the Orioles for Jonathan Schoop. As much as that was a bust, Lewis Brinson makes the trade worth while.

As you all remember, almost a year ago (January 25) Lewis Brinson was traded to the Marlins in exchange for now MVP, Christian Yelich. If there is someone out there who doesn’t think Yelich was a huge push for the Brewers, please click off now. Posting a 7.6 WAR and a HUGE wOBA (weighted on base average) of .422. This one was a pretty easy connection. Safe to say, without Yelich, the Brewers may not have ended in the same place.

Trading Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers

I am going to bring it back to July of 2015 when the Brewers made the first blockbuster trade. They received OF Brett Phillips, OF Domingo Santana, RHP Adrian Houser, and LHP Josh Hader in exchange for Gomez and Fiers.

I’ll talk about the elephant of the room first, Hader made a hefty impact on this past season. As for Houser, he has been a steady option to bring up from the minors for bullpen relief. As for Phillips, he had a pretty good impact in the first half of the season. He was then traded to Kansas City for Mike Moustakas.

Moose came to Milwaukee and made an immediate contribution. Not only was his “one the field play” valuable, but his playoff experience was huge for a young team going into the postseason for the first time.

Domingo Santana also had an impact in 2018. However, his biggest impact may come in the future with being involved in an off-season trade with the Mariners.

Trading Tyler Thornburg

A sometimes overlooked trade has brought great success. Gaining the underrated INF Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg has given the Brewers a steady LHH and great versatility. His value really shined this past year after agreeing to play 2B to make room for Mike Moustakas.

For a player who was fairly “inexpensive”, he has “boomed” in a Brewers uniform. The other part of that trade was acquiring young prospect Mauricio Dubon. Dubon struggled with an injury in 2018 but still carries a lot of potential. He is definitely a young face to keep your eye on.

After looking back to see how last year’s squad was formed, it’s important to look to the future. Since David Stearns has taken over, he has had multiple very good drafts. His first draft in 2016 has already proved plentyfull.

Coming out of that draft was RHP Corbin Burnes who has already proved himself in the majors and is slated to start in 2019. Another top pitcher is Zack Brown. He spent the 2018 season in AA. He put up very good numbers and is starting to prove himself as a future ace. The last player coming out of 2016 was Corey Ray. Whether he makes it to the majors in Milwaukee or is part of a trade, he is slated to have a big impact.

Moving into the 2017 draft, Keston Hiura takes “the cake”. He is a natural born hitter who adds a little power. It is easy to see him having an impact later in the 2019 season and for  years to come. The latest draft is hard to see a major league impact so early, however first round pick Brice Turang thrived in his first year in the minors.

It is easy to see that Brewers have made many key moves that brought them the 2018 success. Those same moves and drafts ensure that their success carries into years to come.