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BCB Mailbag 53: Braun and Fielder or Cain and Yelich?

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

State Farm Home Run Derby Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Happy weekend, everyone! It’s a beautiful day here in the Crea City, so I hope you’re sitting outside while reading up on the answers to your questions this time around:

BeerCity asks:

If the Brewers get a WC spot

Who starts that game? Miley? Chacin? ESPN suggested a bullpen game- but as well as they’ve pitched is that out of the question?

At this point, Wade Miley would be my choice. I’ll admit I was pretty down on the deal when they brought him aboard in Spring Training, but his run prevention numbers are nothing short of outstanding this season. Only five starting pitchers among the 160 who have thrown at least 60 innings this season have posted an ERA lower than Miley’s 2.23. He’s done a masterful job of using his cutter to induce grounders (52.7% GB rate) and then letting one of baseball’s best defensive units do the rest of the work from there. Run estimators aren’t the biggest fans of guys with this kind of approach (87 FIP-, 93 DRA-), but this late in the season it’s more about what’s working right now, not what’s sustainable over the long haul. Miley hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 13 starts and has held the opposition to one or zero earnies seven times. What Miley is doing fits in perfectly to the pitching/defense machine built by David Stearns this year, and not to knock the overall performance of Jhoulys Chacin this year, but he has had seven outings with four or more earned runs given up. In a one-game scenario, I would go with Wade Miley and have the bullpen ready to go as soon as he gets the first time through the order, just in case a quick hook is needed.

Craig Counsell might disagree with me though, because I believe the recent rotation shuffle would line Chacin up to start a hypothetical Wild Card game on regular rest.

icelandreliant asks:

Why wouldn’t the Brewers call up another pitcher or two?

Particularly, Adrian Houser. I know there are a thousand guys available, but you still have the possibility of long extra inning games or bullpen games, and with games like yesterday, could be using 5-6 relievers in many games. Why not call up Houser? Innings limit? Travel frustrations with too many guys? Trying to avoid getting him his pension?

It’s probably a matter of space. The Brewers have a full 40-man roster right now (plus three players on the 60 day DL), and the only players who aren’t in the big leagues are Marcos Diplan (who hasn’t been above AA yet), Mauricio Dubon (on the MiLB DL), Houser, and Aaron Wilkerson. So that’s 36 players crammed into the clubhouse on a daily basis, which I’m sure gets especially troublesome on the road at a place like Wrigley Field. Houser and Wilkerson probably wouldn’t see anything other than garbage time innings at this point, and the Brewers already have Woodruff, Lyles, Guerra, and Albers to soak those up when necessary.

Detroit Fan in Wisconsin asks:

Do you guys think they’ll try to resign Granderson next year?

I don’t know what his contract situation is.

Granderson is finishing out a one-year, $5 mil deal that he originally signed with the Blue Jays before the start of the 2018 season, and he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. He’s been a revelation since coming to Milwaukee, batting a mind-blowing .455/.647/1.182 across 17 plate appearances with two homers and five walks, and he’s known for providing strong veteran leadership in the clubhouse. But he’ll be 38 next spring and it limited to the outfield corners at this point, and even in those spots his defense is a little sketchy. Granderson was a great August pickup and is valuable to have around with expanded rosters and going into the playoffs, but I don’t think he’s a guy that Milwaukee would be able to roster all season. They’ve already got Eric Thames under a guaranteed contract and have cheap control over younger guys like Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, and Hernan Perez in addition to their starters Cain, Yelich, and Braun. If Granderson is going to keep playing, I think he’d be better suited for an organization with less outfield depth and probably one in the American League.

Brett Thompson asks:

Is It Possible To Get To The WS Having One Starting Pitcher With 10 Or More Wins?

I have a feeling that every postseason game the Brewers may be in this year has a high probability of being an early blowout (either way) and mostly pitched by the bullpen. I am truly amazed by how the Brewers are winning games this season, never saw this happen before.

Sure, why not? Pitching wins and losses aren’t something that evaluate how a starter actually performed, it just tells us whether or not he threw at least five innings and left the game with the lead. The Brewers don’t have a dominant starter, but what they do have is a pitching formula that has worked quite well almost all season long - find a starter who can throw five decent innings and keep the team in the game, and then turn it over to the bullpen. With all the extra off days in the playoffs, that means more opportunities for Hader to come in and pitch multiple innings where needed, too. As long as the offense can keep scoring runs, I feel pretty good about the pitchers holding up their end of the bargain.

Rick Auerbach invites you to 1972 asks:

Would you rather enter a postseason with 2011 Braun/Fielder (combined b-WAR = 12.2) or 2018 Cain/Yelich (11.9 with 15 games left)?

Man, what a brutal question! Obviously LoCain and Christian Yelich are the superior defensive combo and as a pair, they are stronger on the bases. There is a big difference in overall production at the plate, though, and for me that tips the scales in favor of 2011 Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Ryan posted a 171 wRC+ in his MVP season and Fielder put together a 160 mark, and as a duo they mashed 71 home runs. Braun had a 183 wRC+ with runners in scoring position that year, with Fielder at 140 in 2011 and Cain (144) and Yelich (140) more in line with Prince. Fielder (.415) and Braun (.397) collectively got on base more often than Cain (.403) and Yelich (.383), too. A quick-strike offense matters a lot in the postseason when runs are at a premium, so if I had to choose I’d roll the dice with the 2011 incarnates of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

drezdn asks:

What are your favorite non-baseball things about fall?

Sweatshirt weather! I’ve probably mentioned it in this space before and I definitely have on Twitter, but I am an avid collector of crewneck sweatshirts. I have something like 65+ of them hanging in my closet, and when the weather cools off it means I can start wearing them again! I cycle through them in rotation to ensure even wear and tear, of course. When it’s like 50-60 degrees and I can wear one of my retro crewnecks, faded jeans, and a pair of white Nike shoes, that’s when I feel most like “me.”

Junbug11 asks:

Brandon McCarthy is retiring with a career total of 69 wins and a career era of 4.20.

In a word, how would you sum up his career?


Thanks for the tremendous questions this time around, y’all! Let’s keep rooting our beloved Menomonee Valley Nine on to a hopeful NL Central division championship!

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference