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Sunday Sundries - Spring Training Week 4

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Our Cactus Cup chances are fading...

Milwaukee Brewers Photo Day Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers started this past week with two wins, pulling within a game of first in the race for the Cactus Cup. But four straight losses to finish the week leaves them in tenth place, 3 games back of first place Seattle with a 14-14-1 record. One of the losses came when Hiram Burgos blew an 11-10 lead in the bottom of the ninth to the Reds in a 12-11 loss. Burgos was cut the next day; who says the Cactus Cup isn’t important?

TOP HITTING STORY: Let’s take another overall team look. Despite getting shut out on only three hits for ten innings by the Royals on Saturday, the Brewers still slashed .272/.326/.441 for the week. An OPS of .767 is a bit off of their previous pace, but if this is a bad hitting week then it will be a good season. Walks were down a bit, and they only hit five homers in the six games. The team was a bit more active on the bases, stealing seven while getting caught thrice.

Travis Shaw has had a nice spring. He is at .348/.429/.674 for an OPS of 1.102, with 4 doubles, a triple, and 3 homers. He has scored 11 times and driven in 9. Lofty numbers that we shouldn’t exactly expect to be his regular season line, but a .275/.350/.450 slash for an OPS of .800 would be more than acceptable. He has 54 plate appearances, so while the sample isn’t exactly large, it’s not tiny either.

TOP PITCHING STORY: Pitching was the main culprit for Milwaukee’s struggles this week, especially during back to back games against the Oakland A’s on Thursday and the aforementioned Reds on Friday. Brewer arms allowed 27 runs on 37 hits in those two games, leaving them with a 1.56 WHIP and 6.11 ERA (and they allowed 6 unearned, so the run average was over 7!) for the week, giving up a whopping ten homers (four by ace Junior Guerra against the A’s). The 20 walks allowed eclipsed the 17 taken, and if the Brewers’ pitchers walk more batters more often than their hitters draw them this year, things will not go well.

Want some good news? Zach Davies, Wily Peralta, and Jimmy Nelson each pitched into the sixth inning in their start this week Their combined line has 16.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 ER, 2 walks, and 13 strikeouts. A WHIP of 0.54 and an ERA of 1.62 will do just fine. The fifth spot remains iffy, as both Tommy Milone and Matt Garza pitched poorly, but if Guerra was just getting all of his bad pitches out of the way in one start then the rotation looks prepped for the opener a week from Monday in Miller Park.

IMHO: Nice to have a forum where I can play with the Opening Day line-up:

  1. Jonathan Villar, 2b .222/.323/.333; .656 OPS
  2. Travis Shaw, 3b .348/.429/.674; 1.102 OPS
  3. Ryan Braun, lf .235/.278/.529; .805 OPS
  4. Eric Thames, rf .244/.364/.356; .719 OPS
  5. Jesus Aguilar, 1b .490/.554/.878; 1.431 OPS
  6. Manny Pina, c .419/.432/.814; 1.246 OPS
  7. Orlando Arcia, ss .245/.298/.396; OPS .694
  8. Junior Guerra, p
  9. Keon Broxton, cf .347/.429/.633; 1.061 OPS

In a vacuum, I’d be tempted to insert Scooter Gennett at second and move Villar to short (Scoot has slashed .316/.366/.500 and has 7 (!) doubles in 38 at-bats), but defense is important, too, as is getting Arcia going to start the year. Of course, we are also more likely see Domingo Santana in right field. I’d prefer to see Thames get a shot in the outfield, where I don’t see much chance that he is worse defensively than Sunday...but I could be wrong about that. Aguilar certainly has earned an Opening Day start with the way he’s hit this spring, in my opinion. Braunie isn’t hitting yet, but with only 18 plate appearances I’m not concerned. And still, he’s slugging that .529.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Team USA won their first World Baseball Classic, and stigmo asked the question on all of our minds:

Finally

Now does USA get home-field advantage in the World Series?

Posted by stigmo on Mar 23, 2017 | 1:01 PM

Naw, stigmo. That’ll belong to the Brewers! Well, it IS still Spring Training, and hope can still spring eternal.

Spring games conclude this coming weekend with two games at Miller Park (Friday and Saturday) against the White Sox. Tickets are just ten bucks and include a $10 voucher for concessions. So anybody who can get there, enjoy! We’ll wrap things up for the Cactus Cup next Sunday, and then it’s on to the Championship Season!

Statistics courtesy of mlb.com