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Brewers vs Rockies series preview

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The season is finally upon us. It's going to be long and it's going to be arduous. However the Brewers might have caught a break in the first series.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This is it. This is the day we've all been waiting for. Today is Game 1 of 162. The Brewers start the season off against the Rockies which is nice. You see the Rockies are one of about three teams in the NL that don't really have a chance to compete. Sure they have Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. But it's a pretty big drop off in offensive talent after that. And that pitching staff is pretty ugly. Let's take a look at the numbers from last season.

The Position Players

Player Position UZR DRS PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Troy Tulowitzki SS 3.0 7 375 13.3 15.2 340 432 603 444 171 5.3
Carlos Gonzalez OF -3.5 -5 281 6.8 24.9 238 292 431 315 83 -0.5
Nolan Arenado 3B 6.0 16 467 5.4 12.4 287 328 500 359 113 3.0
Justin Morneau 1B 7.2 8 550 6.2 10.9 319 364 496 373 123 2.6
Corey Dickerson OF -5.6 -2 478 7.7 21.1 312 364 567 399 140 2.6
Drew Stubbs OF -1.4 - 424 7.1 32.1 289 339 482 358 113 2.6
Charlie Blackmon OF -1.8 1 648 4.8 14.8 288 335 440 339 100 2.0
Wilin Rosario C N/A -8 410 5.6 17.1 267 305 435 319 86 0.4
Nick Hundley C N/A -4 233 4.3 27.0 243 273 358 279 75 0.3
Michael McKenry C N/A 4 192 11.5 21.9 315 398 512 400 141 1.7
DJ LeMahieu 2B 10.7 16 538 6.1 18.0 267 315 348 292 67 0.7
Rafael Ynoa UTIL --- --- 71 5.6 12.7 343 380 463 371 121 0.6
Daniel Descalso UTIL --- --- 184 10.9 17.9 242 333 311 297 88 -0.1

At first glance that offense looks damn sexy.

I'm not afraid to acknowledge that Troy Tulowitzki makes my heart flutter. Admitting that is the same as admitting I'm a living human being. The dude is a freaking beast. He hasn't played a full season in years because he's always getting hurt but he's still the most valuable shortstop every season. If he could play 140+ games he'd be an easy MVP candidate.

CarGo is good when healthy. I like Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson. Justin Morneau still has bite left. Even if things drop off pretty dramatically after them that's 5 pretty solid guys.

Here's the thing though. When you look at their home/road splits from last year you see that they hit 228/279/357 (.282 wOBA, 76 wRC+) away from Colorado. Only the Padres were worse.

But that's not the only thing that really kills this team.

The Pitching Staff

Player Position IP K% BB% HR/9 BAA WHIP ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR
Eddie Butler SP 16.0 4.0 9.2 1.13 .333 1.88 6.75 5.69 5.23 5.65 -0.1
Kyle Kendrick SP 199.0 14.0 6.6 1.13 .269 1.36 4.61 4.57 4.35 4.45 0.9
Jordan Lyles SP 126.2 16.5 8.4 0.85 .258 1.37 4.33 4.22 3.98 4.10 1.2
Tyler Matzek SP 117.2 18.3 8.6 0.69 .263 1.38 4.00 3.73 3.86 4.03 1.7
Christian Bergman SP/RP 54.3 12.5 4.0 1.48 .315 1.55 5.93 4.74 4.55 4.64 0.2
LaTroy Hawkins CL 54.1 14.2 5.8 0.50 .244 1.20 3.31 3.10 3.95 3.85 0.6
John Axford RP 54.2 25,9 14.8 0.99 .210 1.45 3.95 4,34 3.93 3.73 -0.5
Adam Ottavino RP 65.0 25.7 5.9 0.83 .266 1.28 3.60 3.10 3.06 2.61 1.0
Brooks Brown RP 26.0 20.2 4.8 1.04 .204 0.96 2.71 3.71 3.21 2.73 0.1
Boone Logan RP 25.0 27.9 9.5 2.16 .298 1.68 6.84 5.13 2.85 2.74 -0.4
Christian Friedrich RP 24.1 24.6 9.1 1.11 .255 1.44 5.92 4.00 3.66 3.39 0.2
Rafael Betancourt RP N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

And now you see why the Rockies aren't going to be competitive. Jorge de la Rosa is their best starter and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with him as the Brewers 5th starter. He's currently on the disabled list so he won't appear in the opening series against the Brewers.

Don't ask me how LaTroy Hawkins was so effective last year. I do not get it. He has an anemic strike out rate and a poor opponent batting average. Not to mention he's 42 years old! On the plus side he doesn't walk guys and didn't give up many home runs at all. But still, with a K% that low and a BAA that mediocre one would expect him to have suffered more damage.

Adam Ottavino is the only other reliever worth talking about. He's got a solid K%-BB% and a decent HR/9. His BAA was a bit high but I suspect that was bad luck. After him and Hawkins the bullpen is pretty meh.

Pitching Match-Ups

Monday, April 6th 1:10 pm CST - Kyle Lohse vs Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick (RHP) is a junkballer. He doesn't throw a straight fastball but he has a cutter he throws between 87-88 mph. His go to pitch is a sinker which he throws between 45-50% of the time. He also has a change and a slider.

Tuesday, April 7th 7:10 pm CST - Matt Garza vs Jordan Lyles

Lyles (RHP) is sort of a junkballer too. He has better velocity (90-92) and more pitches which is mixes more evenly. Though he uses his 2 fastballs over 60% of the time. He has a 4-seam, 2-seam, slider, curve, and change.

Wednesday, April 8th 7:10 pm CST - Wily Peralta vs Eddie Butler

A few years back I remember reading a theory called the R.A. Dickey Effect. The basic theory was that any starter who followed Dickey would receive a boost in effectiveness because hitters had spent the previous day facing the ridiculousness that is the knuckleball.

I've since wondered if a similar effect could be achieved with vastly different velocities. For example would Jimmy Nelson receive a boost because his fastball is a good 5 or 6 mph faster than Mike Fiers? Could the same be true for Kyle Lohse who possesses a fastball that is the same difference slower?

If such an effect exists Rockies starter Eddie Butler should benefit from it. Kendrick and Lyles both throw in the high 80's or low 90's. The Rockies rookie throws his fastball between 93-95 and can hit 97. That's similar to the gap in velo between Fiers/Lohse and Nelson/Peralta. Butler has mid-rotation upside but has limited experience so it's anyone's guess how he'll perform this early in the season.

In addition to his fastball Butler throws a slider and a change-up.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs