A 3-3 week doesn’t do much to hurt the goal of contention for a whole season, but it doesn’t do much to advance it, either. And the 3-3 week included Friday’s game, when the Brewers erased a 9-3 deficit to win in 10 innings 11-10. It also included being shut out to both start and end the week, bringing the season total to 8. Did you know that not scoring any runs makes winning impossible? So the Brewers only gave themselves a chance to win in four of their games, and took three. They were outscored 33-21 and still won half their games. All of this shows the vagaries of using small sample sizes to draw any conclusions in a 162 game baseball season, but I’m still going to do Sunday Sundries to review a week’s worth of games...after all, it’s better than looking at just one game.
TOP HITTING STORY: I’m going with a silly pick here, but Brent Suter deserves recognition for earning the title of Mr. Flexible this week. He came in for Wade Miley when he was injured four batters into Tuesday’s game against the Indians, then became the emergency starter when Chase Anderson was unable to start yesterday’s game due to illness (Anderson went on the DL after the game, and I have some concern over what’s up with him. Hopefully it’s the Brewers and Chase just being cautious. Be well, Chase). AND - a .667/.750/2.000 slash with an OPS of 2.750 is rather impressive. In four plate appearances, Brent had a double, an homer, and even a walk (I’d walk him, too). Nothing cheap, either - it was a ground rule double and a 430’ homer. Wouldn’t it be nice to get something like those numbers out of the second base, shortstop, or catcher positions? To be fair, Manny Pina’s two out, two run homerun off of Wade Davis on Friday was an acceptable outcome.
Honorable Mention: Lorenzo Cain has turned himself into a really good lead-off hitter. He had a 1.006 OPS on the week, scoring five times and driving in three. He is hitting with some power, with a double and homerun, and was on base at a .423 clip. My one request is that he score at least once in every game nobody else scores. That would put an end to all of those shutouts against Milwaukee.
TOP PITCHING STORY: When Jacob Barnes starts pitching poorly, it usually takes several appearances for him to “get it back”. So the Brewers have sent him to AAA Colorado Springs to work through things. Since they aren’t scoring runs at a very good clip, they can’t afford one of their short relievers having a string of three appearances where he goes 2 2⁄3 innings, allowing nine hits and four runs, with a walk - that’s a WHIP of 3.75. He probably should have given up more runs...well, he gave up other pitcher’s runs, too - three of them.
Honorable Mention: The rest of the short relievers worked 16 2⁄3 innings, giving up 7 hits and 6 walks (0.78 WHIP), two homeruns (both solo, and the only runs allowed), with 23 strikeouts. That’s a 1.08 ERA, folks. This is how you go 3-3 in a week when you get shut out twice and give up nine runs in four innings of another game.
IMHO: Credit where credit is due. Craig Counsell’s hand may have been forced with the Corey Knebel (welcome back, by the way!) injury, but Counsell’s system of multiple roles (including multiple closers) and multiple innings has been masterful. Combined with personnel decisions (Matt Albers, Dan Jennings additions), role assignments (Josh Hader into the “fireman role”), and the apparent excellence of Derek Johnson as a pitching coach (I gotta think that DJ has been a big help for the excellence of Jeremy Jeffress as a Brewer this time around), this is the best bullpen in Brewer history. So far, anyways - we are only 25% of the way through this season, give or take.
I trust that Corey Knebel will close games again this season for Milwaukee. I just truly hope he isn’t the only one.
Comment of the Week: Kyle Lesniewski tried to give us hope for the disappointing production of the Brewers’ offense with this post, but not everybody (including HamHockHawker) was heartened:
Bad stats talk
”with the purpose of describing how effective a hitter
shouldcould be at the plate based on the quality of their contact”
”Quality contact” is meaningless if it’s predictable. You can hit all the 110mph line drives in the world, but if they always go to the same spots, or they can pitch you so that you hit them there (e.g. opposing teams know you try to pull outside offspeed stuff and produce line drives to RF), welp, you’re done. That’s not a hit you should have. It’s a hit you couldhave in a randomized context that assumes no defensive alignment adjusted to your spray chart. It forgets the #1 rule of hitting – hit ‘em where they ain’t.
What I’m saying is that the Brewers may have high(ish) wxOBA but that doesn’t mean they’ll get any better. Just as an exercise, on a given night count the number of line drives that end up right at a defensive player, or where the defensive player barely has to move. Those are fails. The Brewers have an inordinate number of those…
Personally, I choose to believe anything that gives me hope for more consistent offense.
Milwaukee continues on the road with the final game in Colorado followed by three in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks (who have really good pitching...shudder) and then an interleague series with the Twins in Minneapolis, where the Brewers will get to use the DH. Thursday is an off day.
By the way, that will be three consecutive series against teams that claim whole states in their names, rather than just the cities that they are located in. Are the Rockies, D’Backs, and Twins embarrassed by the cities they play in? Or should the Brewers be the Wisconsin Brewers?
Have a wonderful Mothers’ Day, everyone - especially any mothers that might read this. Or even those that don’t.