Part two of my midseason exercise in self-indulgence looks at the pitching performances for the Brewers. Again, I grade based off of my expectations of a player; those that do what is expected of them get a ‘C’...no matter how good or bad that is compared to the rest of baseball. Please keep that in mind when complaining about my grades. You don’t have to keep that in mind when agreeing with them; I don’t care about reasons for folks that agree with me.
We talked about position players yesterday, and will look at management tomorrow.
Jimmy Nelson: (C) Jimmy took a circuitous route to get to where he is at the break, but the over-all numbers are right about what I expected. He started very well, had a poor funk, and seems to be getting back to ‘good’ again. He has battled his control in the second half of the first half, after locating quite well to open the season. My hope is that this is all a part of growing into being a solid #2 starter.
Wily Peralta: (D) After last year I wasn't expecting much from Wily. You always hope, but when he returned from his long stint on the Disabled List he was hit hard and often, rarely keeping the team in games. It seems to me that the team believes that the issues are more mental than physical...that’s how I interpreted the decision to name him "Opening Day Starter" despite an iffy at best spring.
He couldn’t even meet my low expectations. His slider hasn’t been consistently sharp - it rolls up there way too often, and is also very poorly located way too often. His WHIP of 1.88 has actually worsened while at Colorado Springs, to 2.26. He allowed 12 homeruns for the Brewers in 66 innings. with 3 more in 17.2 innings at AAA. He did hit a homer in his last game for the Brewers, so his net homers was 11.
Taylor Jungmann: (F) Unlike Peralta, I expected things from Taylor. Not great things, but middle to back end of the rotation things. Not a WHIP of 1.94 with the Brewers, or 2.39 at Colorado Springs. (Aside: Since the two starters demoted to the Springs have been worse there, does it follow that a pitcher brought up from there will be better with the Brewers?) Nine homers allowed in 51.2 combined innings. (Did Taylor and Wily go to the same pitching guru in the winter?) Taylor was so bad that the Brewers sent him back to Arizona for a mental and physical break. This is epic failure.
Can somebody come back from this? Did the 4-5 mph lost on his fastball signal something that the team isn’t talking about? I truly hope the latter. We saw potential from Taylor (and from Wily, for that matter) that just vanished. For a team like the Brewers that historically have difficulty in developing their own pitching, this is very, very bad news.
Chase Anderson: (C) Pretty much what I expected. Inconsistent; looked pretty good for a two or three game stretch, but sometimes he just throws batting practice. If other guys had done their jobs, this wouldn’t be a very big deal, but that isn’t Chase’s fault. The deal that brought him also brought Isan Diaz, who is showing growth in Appleton, and the returnees from the Aaron Hill deal (pitcher Aaron Wilkerson - so the Brewers still have an Aaron, and Wendell Rijo - and they now have a Wendell!). Since Jonathan Villar is a significant upgrade at the plate over Jean Segura, despite Jean’s good start for the D-Backs, this was a good deal no matter what Chase does. But where is the rotation coming from in 2018?
Zach Davies: (B) Zach has definitely been better than I expected, especially after the start of the season he had. When his control is on (or the ump is giving him the corners), he is very good. When his control is perfect (or the ump thinks he’s Greg Maddux), he is a world beater. When he is forced to bring his stuff over the plate by patient hitters (or umps that notice he’s a rookie), he can be had. He will help bridge the gap to the next gen rotation, and perhaps even be a part of it.
Matt Garza: (C) Exactly what I expected. Pitching poorly enough that nobody in their right minds would ask about him, poorly enough that games he starts feel like an uphill climb. His early fairly good results were because he kept getting out of tough situations; that wasn’t going to last, and now he’s starting to give up those hits that go over the fence. Those are the worst kind of hits. Garza is the Brewers’ cross to bear.
Junior Guerra: (A) If Kyle used my parameters, Junior would get a ‘C’. But I didn’t know, or expect, that he’d more or less be the savior of the first half in the rotation. With the meltdowns from Peralta and Jungmann, this team could have lost another 8-10 games if Junior hadn’t come up and been the best starter the team has seen since...well, there have been hot streaks before but nobody has been the stopper that Guerra has been for some time. The Brewers were 10-3 in his 13 starts, and 28-46 in all others. Yikes.
The only other pitcher to start a game was Tyler Cravy, and he was summarily dispatched to the Springs after his poor outing. I hope he doesn’t start any more this year...that would mean something has gone very wrong (or somebody made the Brewers an offer they couldn’t refuse).
Will Smith: (C) Coulda been worse. Coulda been better. If he had not injured his knee just before the start of the season, his velocity might still be the 2-3 mph faster than he’s throwing now and teams might be offering actual promotable prospects for him. Or the knee injury could have been season ending, or left him ineffective upon his return. But Will has pitched well enough that there is speculation that other teams might be interested. Power armed lefties that can get righties out are a valuable commodity. I’d like to see Will stay.
Tyler Thornburg: (A-) Very good numbers (0.97 WHIP, 2.57 ERA) but he has given up the long ball a bit much (5 in 36 innings). I see a recurring theme here...homers given up. I’d like to think that it’s Miller Park, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. But I live in fear that Tyler is going to break down again, and can’t shake that. If I were running the team, and a good offer came for Tyler I’d jump at it. Sell high.
Jeremy Jeffress: (B+) His stat line is what you’d expect (WHIP 1.33, BAA .280), but he doesn’t walk guys and he doesn’t give up the long ball. He gets grounders, so some get through...and they are often erased in double plays. 23 of 24 saves is really very good; without a steady closer, this team would have been in a world of hurt. This is what he will forever be, and his position as a closer might bring more in a trade than he deserves. If so, OK.
Michael Blazek: (C-) Up until his injury he was a little better than expected. After he came back, I couldn’t help but think he came back too soon. Hopefully he can work things out at the Springs, but it hasn’t done Peralta or Jungmann much good.
Carlos Torres: (B) A solid season for the veteran. He has mostly pitched 6th-7th inning situations, but when guys were not available or games went long the Brewers haven’t been afraid to use Carlos in pressure spots. WHIP of 1.25; we’ve seen plenty of worse performers get more work in game situations. Good pick-up.
Jhan Marinez: (C) I just don’t see his relative success continuing. His WHIP of 1.64 says that his 3.38 ERA isn’t sustainable. The league is hitting .310 against him. If anyone offers ANYTHING for him I’d jump on it.
Blaine Boyer: (C) Same as Marinez; I’d accept any prospects willingly. And he’s old.
Corey Knebel: (D) Being hurt isn’t your fault. Hopefully. But Corey just hasn’t been able to bring what he did last year. Hoping for a bounceback second half.
Jacob Barnes: (A) I expected nothing. We got a hard throwing righty with strikeout stuff and a sharp slider. There is hope that Barnes can be a very good reliever down the line. He isn’t a young prospect, but we could get five or six good years here, if he continues to gain confidence and control. And avoids arm trouble. A great surprise.
Some others have pitched; I don’t see any of them as future contributors or bringing anything in a trade, so I thank them for their service and look at the next group coming up from the minors...
I will do a very unofficial review of management tomorrow. The impact of a game manager is hard to gauge, and the impact of a GM can’t really be known for several years after he starts. But will that stop me from giving my two cents worth? Heck, no!