The 2016 Brewers had some rocky pitching performances, but the staff as a whole seemed to come into their own by the end of the year, which is fueling some optimism about the group (as slight as it may be) heading into 2017.
A lot of that had to do with #2016BrewersAce Junior Guerra, but he wasn't the only one to put up some memorable pitching performances this year. With 2016 coming to a close after today, here's a look back at some of the top games by Brewers pitchers in the past year.
Honorable Mention: Chase Anderson, 5/17/16 at Chicago
8.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Anderson is your typical back-of-the-rotation guy, and while he was responsible for some very, very ugly games this season, he was also capable of outings like this. Facing one of -- if not the -- best lineup in the National League, he kept the Cubs off balance and off the board for nearly the entire game. Anderson took a complete game, 1-hit shutout into the 9th inning, and was one out away from the best start of his career when Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back solo home runs, forcing Craig Counsell to bring in Jeremy Jeffress for the final out.
5. Junior Guerra, 7/29/16 vs. Pittsburgh
8.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
Guerra also nearly recorded a CGSO of his own in late July. A quick 1-2-3 8th inning made the shutout a real possibility, but Guerra labored through the heart of the Pirates' order in the 9th, starting the inning with a single and a walk before recording two groundouts, the second of which pushed a run across to break the shutout. Another single chased Guerra from the game, forcing Jeffress to pick up another 1-out save. In typical Guerra fashion, the strikeout total wasn't high, but all five were of the swinging variety and he only allowed one extra-base hit the entire game.
4. Wily Peralta, 8/30/16 vs. St. Louis
7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
As brutal as Peralta was to start the year (and during his minor league demotion), by the end of the year, he was showing why he was pegged as the Opening Day starter to begin with. In his best start since the end of the 2014 season, Peralta went toe-to-toe with Adam Wainwright, punching out 10 in 7 innings with only 89 pitches. He kept the ball down, with only 5 of his 21 outs recorded coming on flyballs. This was vintage Wily Peralta, even if Counsell protected him by pulling him early (the Brewers ultimately lost this game 2-1 in extra innings).
3. Junior Guerra, 7/4/16 at Washington
7.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
This game has come up a lot in these "most memorable" lookbacks, whether it was Martin Maldonado's monster home run that proved to be the difference, or Jonathan Villar's sliding grab that preserved the 1-0 lead to close out the 8th.
On the mound, Guerra faced off with eventual Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and out-dueled him, with one of his two walks being an intentional pass to Bryce Harper when Jayson Werth ended up in scoring position following a single and an error. It was one of the rare times in the game that Guerra faced any sort of trouble -- he had five 1-2-3 innings in the outing before turning the ball over to Will Smith in the 8th inning after 109 pitches.
2. Junior Guerra, 6/29/16 vs. Los Angeles
8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
We may as well call 7+ innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, and 7 strikeouts a Guerra Special, considering how remarkably consistent his starts were in 2016. This is another, getting a little boost over the 4th of July game by virtue of finishing the 8th inning.
It started a little slow with a first-inning double and walk, but after that he settled down, posting 1-2-3 innings in all but one of his next 7 innings, erasing the only other hit he allowed with a double play ball.
1. Zach Davies, 6/1/16 vs. St. Louis
8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Surprise -- the top pitching performance by a Brewer in 2016 wasn't from the #2016BrewersAce, instead coming from the guy who might be the #2017BrewersAce. Davies set a new career high with 9 strikeouts (a total he matched twice more later in the season), didn't allow a runner past first base, and ended his day with a three-strikeout 8th inning (two of which were swinging). He also recorded 9 outs on the ground.
It's fitting that Davies and Guerra come in with the top two performances of the season, considering they were consistently the Brewers' two best starters. If you were to expand this list to 20, the two would both account for about 6 appearances each. The duo isn't exactly peak Randy Johnson-Curt Schilling, but they do provide a little hope for the new year in that we know at least 2 out of every 5 starts from Brewers pitchers should be solid.
Statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference