As the Brewers continue to contend, I find myself dreaming of a playoff series. The Brewers past week was played against playoff caliber teams, so here goes. The stats include Saturday’s game, but as the Brewers took four of the first five, that loss would have been irrelevant. That doesn’t stop me from including Brandon Woodruff in the rotation, though. And a 4-2 mark against very tough competition (LA, StL, and Wash) is a very good mark.
The series was closely fought for the most part; three of the five games were decided by one run. A blow-out 10-2 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday meant that the Brewers were actually outscored 23-20 over the six games (20-18 over the five that mattered), and pitching was the name of the game for Milwaukee.
TOP PITCHING STORY: The rotation of Jimmy Nelson, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, and Brandon Woodruff was stellar. Nelson won games one and five to take the series MVP, but all turned in great performances. The blow-out loss came with somebody that won’t be on the play-off roster anyways.
The four combined to go 33.2 innings, allowing just 17 hits and 8 runs (all earned), for an ERA of 2.14. The staff walked 10 and struck out 35, while allowing two home runs. Both were served up by Chase Anderson, but those were the only two hits he allowed in his six innings of work. That’s a WHIP of 0.80, folks.
Honorabel Mention: The ‘A’ group bullpen was very good, and the one truly bad performance came in that “meaningless” game six loss (Josh Hader, going on consecutive days, looked much more hittable than when he is fresh). That group is Hader, Anthony Swarzak, Jacob Barnes, and Corey Knebel. Knebel saved every win (natch), and Barnes had his cleanest week in a while. Swarzak was not as good, allowing two earned runs in 2.1 innings, including a homer, but he walked none and struck out six. Hader ended up walking just one in his 3.1 innings and striking out 6.
Together the big four of the pen went 11.1 innings, allowing 7 hits and 5 runs (all earned) while walking 5 and striking out 18. They brought in an ERA of 3.97 and a WHIP of 1.06. Knebel’s four innings of work gave up no runs on a hit and two walks, with seven strikeouts. Of course, Keon Broxton’s game saving catch saved a save for Corey:
TOP HITTING STORY: Jonathan Villar’s resurgence continued with a .556/.556/.944 slash on the week, OPSing 1.500. He had his share of lucky hits of his ten, but a double and two homers aren’t luck. His five RBI easily led the team; the offense was rather anemic. The Brewers drew 13 walks in the six games, and struck out 59 times.
Honorable Mention: Domingo Santana chipped in a .360/.400/.579 week, another return to form that is most welcome. Sunday contributed a double and a homer to help him to an OPS of .979.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: They said the Brewers couldn’t win a play-off series without Ryan Braun contributing at the plate. Well, that wasn’t true. The Deputy only slashed .200/.188/.267, OPS of .454, for the week. And he got tossed from a game for arguing balls and strikes. Still time, though! They get to keep going since they won that series, and since the season isn’t actually over.
IMHO: I alluded to replacing Matt Garza with Woodruff in a playoff rotation above, and I can’t think of any reason not to. Sure, Garza is a veteran with playoff experience, but he also isn’t the pitcher he was when he got said experience. His recent performance has been, well, bad. Woodruff looked so much more confident last night, and even his first three starts were characterized by his ability to get outs when he needed to. His stuff is better than Garza’s, and the experience that HE would gain from a postseason would help build the rotation for the future.
For a short series I’d go with just eleven pitchers: four starters, seven in the pen. Besides the four relievers mentioned above (Knebel, Swarzak, Barnes, and Hader), I’d add Hughes and either Drake or Jeffress, along with Torres (I know, I know...but he wouldn’t pitch unless it didn’t matter, and has actually been generally OK since the All Star break). That leaves room for 14 bench players, and I want Brett Phillips included on that roster.
I may be counting chickens before they hatch, but I can do that. What I think doesn’t matter. Well it does to me, but in the cosmic scheme of things it doesn’t exist.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Brent Suter was announced as the starter for today’s series finale against the Nationals. He is coming off the DL, and since he probably won’t go deep into the game (well, he certainly won’t), it will be an extended bullpen day. But Juni G is back up, and intriguing surprise call-up Taylor Williams is out there (along with about 8000 others), so win or lose this could be a very entertaining ballgame.
fyewiks catches my (very important) opinion succinctly:
I'm happy, very happy
No Garza is a lollipop for my sweet tooth.
So the Brewers move on to their next post season series...well, why not? They face the Nationals today, then move on to Cincinnati for three with the Reds (and some therapy for the bats) before that huge three game set at Wrigley over next weekend. Be nice to get all three in Cincy so that they only need one in Chicago. Actually, they need ALL three of them in Chicago, no matter what. Happy Labor Day!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference