Last night, the 2015 postseason began as the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game 3-0. Tonight, the postseason continues with the Chicago Cubs taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game. While the Brewers are not in the postseason this year, some of their former players are in it, and will make their impact felt over the next month. Let's take a look at the former Brewers that are on the playoff teams and what role they will play in the 2015 postseason.
(Note: If you dig a little deeper, you could probably find some additional links to the Brewers in this year's postseason. However, these are some of the most obvious ones out there, and I'm not going to go very deep to find any additional connections..)
These are probably the most obvious names for the list, mainly because they were on the roster earlier this season and were part of the biggest trade the Brewers made this season.
In the Wild Card game, Carlos Gomez hit a solo home for the Astros in their 3-0 win. Gomez had missed several games with a intercostal strain, but is expected to be fine for the postseason. He hit .242/.288/.383 in 41 games for the Astros with four home runs and 13 RBI. This is Gomez's third time in the postseason, also appearing in 2009 with the Twins and 2011 with the Brewers. In 2011, Gomez made three starts and posted a line of .357/.400/.571 with a home run in 17 PA. Most people remember him scoring the winning run in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS that gave the Brewers their second postseason series win in franchise history.
Mike Fiers did not pitch in last night's game, but is on the Astros playoff roster and will be a factor at some point. The Astros have not announced their rotation for the ALDS yet, so we don't know when he will pitch, or if he will come out of the bullpen. Fiers posted a 3.32 ERA and 4.39 FIP in 10 games (9 starts) for the Astros, including a no-hitter on August 21. This will be Fiers' first postseason appearance.
In Toronto this season, Marco Estrada has seen a resurgence in his career. While home runs were still a problem for him (24 allowed in 181 IP), his rate did decrease from last season, where he allowed a league-leading 29 home runs. He posted a 3.13 ERA and 4.40 FIP over 28 starts and 6 relief appearances, but also had a career low .216 BABIP allowed this season, along with a reduced strikeout rate of 6.51 K/9. He will be in the Blue Jays postseason rotation, starting game three against the Rangers. This is Estrada's second year in the postseason, with his first coming in 2011 with the Brewers. He made four appearances that postseason, mostly in games that the Brewers were already down several runs. Over 6 IP, he allowed four runs, all of those coming in the NLCS.
LaTroy Hawkins was a midseason acquisition for the Blue Jays, as he was acquired from the Rockies as part of the Troy Tulowitzki trade. He has done well in his time with the Blue Jays, posting a 2.76 ERA and 2.77 FIP in 18 relief appearances. Hawkins has had one of his best years this season, posting a 7.91 K/9 and 1.63 BB/9 despite allowing a BABIP of .342. At 42 years old, he expects to retire after the season, but will get one last shot at the playoffs this year as he is expected to be on the Blue Jays postseason roster. This is the fifth time that Hawkins has been in the postseason. The last appearance was in 2011 with the Brewers, where he allowed no runs in four appearances between the NLDS and NLCS.
Also included on this list is R.A. Dickey, who never pitched for the Brewers but has spent a year in the Brewers farm system, signing as a free agent in 2007 but leaving in free agency after the season. Despite his long career, this will be his first time pitching in the postseason. He is expected to take the #4 spot in the Blue Jays rotation.
Mike Maddux (Coach)
During the offseason, the Brewers traded Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers for three players to get some value from Gallardo before he became a free agent. While he was good, but not great in 2014, his 2015 season can be classified in a similar way. In terms of fWAR, he had a better season as it went up from 2.0 to 2.5, but some of the peripheral stats suggest his season was not as good. His ERA did decline slightly (3.42), and his home run rate was lower (0.73 HR/9), but his strikeout rate was down (5.91 K/9), walk rate was up (3.32 BB/9), and xFIP was also up (4.31). His fastball also lost some velocity, dropping from 91.4 MPH to 90.4 MPH. Despite this, he did stabilize a Rangers rotation that lost Yu Darvish before the season, and should be in demand this offseason. He will start in game one for the Rangers in the ALDS, and this will be his third time in the playoffs. Both of his previous appearances came with the Brewers. In 2011, he was stellar in the NLDS, allowing just two runs over two starts and 14 innings with a 14:3 K/BB ratio, but struggled in one start in the NLCS, allowing four runs in five innings.
Prince Fielder's path since he left the Brewers has been a rough one. He got his mega-deal after the 2011 season, signing a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers. He played for Detroit for two years before being sent to Texas after the 2013 season. Then, his 2014 season was cut short with a neck injury that kept him out most of the season. He returned in 2015, and while Fielder has been playing well, it hasn't been as good as in the past. The numbers are still good for him (.305/.378/.463 with 23 HR and 98 RBI), but it's a step down from his days in Milwaukee. He also has transitioned to a role as more of a pure DH, with only 18 starts at first base and 139 as the designated hitter. Fielder will be making his fifth postseason appearance, with the last two coming while in Detroit and the first two with the Brewers.
Carlos Corporan may be the name you're not familiar with from this list, but don't feel bad if you don't recognize him. He had a grand total of 1 plate appearance for the Brewers, which came in 2009. He spent the last three years in Houston before being traded during the offseason to Texas. He served as a backup catcher for the first half of the season, but then spent a month and a half on the DL with an injured thumb. He was activated when rosters expanded in September, but has not appeared in a game since. With three catchers receiving playing time ahead of him, it is unlikely that Corporan will make the postseason roster for the Rangers.
Mike Maddux is also still with the Rangers as their pitching coach for the last seven seasons. He was the Brewers pitching coach from 2003 to 2008, and this will be his fifth time as a coach for a team in the postseason.
Ned Yost (Manager)
Dale Sveum (Coach/Manager)
This was one of the few trades that you could say was a win/win for both sides. While the Brewers got an ace in Zack Greinke, the Royals got two strong everyday players in Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar.
When the trade originally happened, Alcides Escobar was seen as the key part of the trade. Originally the shortstop of the future for the Brewers, he is now in his fifth season with the Royals. While his numbers have dropped a little this season (.257/.293/.320 in 662 PA), he earned his first All-Star Game appearance. This will be his second time in the postseason, as he was part of the Royals run to the World Series last year.
Meanwhile, Lorenzo Cain was originally just seen as a throw-in to the trade, but is now arguably the best player that the Royals received from the Brewers. He has put together a career year in 2015, hitting .307/.361/.477 with 16 home runs, 28 stolen bases, 72 RBI, and 101 runs scored. His 6.6 fWAR led the Royals and is the third highest in the AL, earning him his first All-Star Game appearance and should put him in the conversation for AL MVP (though he will be an underdog in that race). Like Escobar, this will be his second time in the postseason, with his first coming last year as a part of the Royals run to the World Series.
Of course, all of us are also aware that two former Brewers managers are a part of the Royals staff. Ned Yost was the manager of the Brewers between 2003 and September of 2008, where he was fired with 12 games to go in the season. Dale Sveum managed those final 12 games in 2008, and was also a coach for the rest of his six years between 2006 and 2011. He managed the Cubs for two years in 2012 and 2013, and is currently the hitting coach for the Royals.
The Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs last night, and while their roster did feature two former Brewers during the season, it wasn't anything to get excited about for last night.
As you have probably heard, Sabathia checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center and was going to miss the postseason. Even if he had not, he probably wouldn't have pitched in last night's game. He had made it through 2015 mostly healthy, but still had a rough year with a 4.73 ERA and 4.68 FIP. He has made seven previous postseason appearances, including a World Series win in 2009 with the Yankees. His one appearance with the Brewers in 2008 wasn't anything to remember, as he allowed five runs in 3.2 innings pitched in the 2008 NLDS.
Chris Capuano has bounced up and down in the Yankees system throughout the season, but also was not on the roster for the Wild Card game. Since leaving the Brewers after the 2010 season, he spent a year with the Mets, two years with the Dodgers, half a season with the Red Sox, and the last season and a half in the Yankees system. This season, in 40.2 innings with the Yankees, he has posted a 5.03 FIP and 7.97 ERA. Capuano did put together a couple of good years with the Dodgers, which led to his one postseason appearance in 2013, coming out of the bullpen to pitch three scoreless innings in the 2013 NLDS.
If you ever wanted to find some evidence of the Cardinals' evil magic powers, you may not need to look much farther than the three players listed here. When all three of them left the Brewers, we didn't expect to see much more from them in the future, yet the Cardinals managed to squeeze out some value from all three.
Mark Reynolds signed with the Cardinals in the offseason following his 2014 season with the Brewers. Over the course of the 2015 season, he would collect 432 PA while covering six positions for the Cardinals, most of that coming at first base. His power did dip a little with only 13 HR, but his batting line saw an improvement (.230/.315/.398) and he also saw an increase in extra-base hits as the number of doubles he hit jumped to 21. He is expected to make the Cardinals postseason roster as a utility player. This will be his third time in the postseason, the previous two coming in 2007 with the Diamondbacks and 2012 with the Orioles.
Carlos Villanueva has bounced around a little bit since he was sent to Toronto after the 2010 season. He spent two years with the Blue Jays, then two years with the Cubs. In both spots, he bounced between the bullpen and starting rotation, posting an ERA over 4.00 in all four years, though he did have an FIP of 3.13 in his last year with the Cubs. He signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals in the offseason, and spent the whole season in the Cardinals bullpen. He had a decent year for the team, posting a 2.95 ERA and 3.74 FIP in 61 innings. He should also be on the Cardinals postseason roster, and it will be his second appearance in the postseason. His first came with the Brewers in 2008, where he pitched 3.2 innings over two appearances in the NLDS.
Jonathan Broxton was the most recent Brewer on this list, and was sent to the Cardinals at the trade deadline this year. After posting a 5.89 ERA and 3.71 FIP with the Brewers to start the season, his ERA dropped to 2.66 and FIP dropped to 3.56 in 23.2 innings with the Cardinals. He should make the postseason roster with the Cardinals, marking the fifth time he will be in the postseason. His first three times came with the Dodgers in 2006, 2008, and 2009, and his last appearance came with the Reds in 2012.
If you want to stretch a little further, manager Mike Matheny is also a former Brewer, as he spent five years with the team between 1994 and 1998.
Chris Bosio (Coach)
Need another reason to root against the Cubs? Here's an easy one: No former Brewers players are on the Cubs roster. Apparently they are too good to have former Brewers playing for them.
There is one coach that previously was with the Brewers. Chris Bosio was the interim pitching coach for the Brewers in 2009, and was an advance scout for the Brewers in 2010 and 2011, and also the pitching coach for Triple-A Nashville for part of 2011. He joined the Cubs staff with Dale Sveum in 2012 and has been their pitching coach for four years.
Davey Lopes (Manager)
Ron Roenicke (Manager)
Who doesn't remember Zack Greinke? It was the big trade to get him before the 2011 season that sparked the Brewers run to the playoffs and helped them win the division that year. Since joining the Dodgers, Greinke has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, and will make his fourth postseason appearance this year. The previous two came with the Dodgers in 2013 and 2014, and Greinke's first postseason appearance came with the Brewers in 2011. Greinke didn't fare well in the 2011 postseason, putting up a 6.48 ERA in 3 starts with four HR allowed and a 13:4 K/BB ratio. In 4 starts over the last two years with the Dodgers, he has posted a 1.93 ERA in 4 starts with a 24:4 K/BB ratio. Greinke will start in game two for the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers also have two former Brewers managers on their staff. Davey Lopes was the Brewers manager for three years between 2000 and 2002, and was fired 15 games into the 2002 season. He is now the first base coach for the Dodgers. Ron Roenicke was with the Brewers until this season, where he was fired 25 games into the season. He was hired on midseason by the Dodgers to be their third base coach.
This is another team that doesn't have any former Brewers, and it's not too surprising. They've been trying to build up for years internally, so adding former Brewers to their roster was not a part of their rebuilding plan. They could have had a few on their roster had the proposed Carlos Gomez trade gone through, but it did not and left them without any Brewers for the postseason.
Wrapping up an 18-year MLB career this season, Aramis Ramirez is making his final appearance in the postseason. The Pirates acquired Ramirez near the trade deadline, and he has been ok for the Pirates. In 56 games covering 214 PA, he batted .245/.299/.413 with 6 home runs and 13 RBI. This is his fourth time in the postseason, with his last appearance coming in 2008 with the Cubs. Ramirez is not in the starting lineup for the Pirates in the Wild Card game, but will be available on the bench tonight.
Meanwhile, while Corey Hart is on the Pirates roster, he has been on the 60-day DL for a while. He was originally placed on the 15-day DL on June 24, and later transferred to the 60-day DL. While he had hoped to be ready to contribute late in the season, he did not make enough progress in his recovery from a shoulder and knee injury, and has been shut down for the rest of the season.