The week 12 version of our Milwaukee Brewers was a disappointment. 2-3 ain’t that bad, but when they split the two in Houston, I had high hopes that the weekend three in San Francisco would produce at least two wins. Well, it did produce two wins, but they were on the Giants' side of the ledger. The weak hitting Giants overcame early deficits both Friday and Saturday, with starters Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson unable to keep the G-men off the scoreboard, and the ‘B’ bullpen unable to keep things close enough for the Brewer bats to come back. Sunday’s Father’s Day win was a relief, more than anything.
Still, the Cubs cooperated with a not-so-good week of their own, and the Crew still maintain a one game lead in the division.
TOP HITTING STORY: Arguably the best hitting catcher in all of baseball, Yasmani Grandal sits just fifth in the NL voting for the team. Despite Craig Counsell’s comments to the contrary, baseball fans aren’t really very educated.
Another good week for Yaz - a slash of .368/.462/.789 gave him an OPS of 1.251. His seven hits included two doubles and two homers. Eight RBIs is a good week’s worth of hitting. He drew another four walks and had a HBP. And two sac flies. Yay runs!
Honorable Mention: Can’t have a Sunday Sundries without Christian Yelich making an appearance. Yeli missed out on the Triple Crown last season, and is making a bid to rectify that “failure”. A solid .375/.423/.750 week (OPS 1.173) with 3 doubles and two dingers. He did strike out seven times. So he isn’t perfect.
TOP PITCHING STORY: We like to divide the Brewer bullpen into the ‘A’ pen and the ‘B’ pen; The ‘A’ group works with the team ahead or tied; the ‘B’ pen when the team is behind. Some of the ‘pen group move back and forth between the two - mostly Matt Albers and Adrian Houser. For my purposes, Houser is included in the ‘A’ group and Albers in the ‘B’ group. (Mainly because it emphasized the difference between the two groups in this particular week.)
Group A includes Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Junior Guerra, and the aforementioned Houser. Group B is everyone else (last week it was Albers, Corbin Burnes, Jacob Barnes, and Alex Claudio). Claudio has unfortunately spent time with the ‘A’ group, but seems unable to even function as a loogy. His main plus is that he throws so softly that he can appear in lots of games without any noticeable difference in effectiveness. Unfortunately, with an ERA over five, it would seem more efficient to use him less frequently.
Anyway, Group A made 9 appearances last week, throwing 13.2 innings, allowing 9 hits and 7 walks while fanning 16. Two earned runs give us an ERA of 1.32 on a WHIP of 1.17.
Group B appeared 10 times, worked 9.1 innings and allowed 12 hits with 4 walks, striking out just six. Seven runs were allowed, all earned. Three of the hits were homeruns. That’s an ERA of 6.75 and a WHIP of 1.714.
Winning when behind after five or six innings is tough when there’s a 2⁄3 chance that the opponent will score each inning the ‘B’ pen is out there. Is there a fix for this? I expect so, and hopefully we will see action soon from Slingin’ David Stearns.
IMHO: Speaking of pitching, I generally don’t have any complaints on Craig Counsell’s decisions of when pitching changes are made (and who cares if I do?), but this week’s start by Jimmy Nelson had me scratching my head. Saturday’s start by the big righty was better than his initial outing last week while returning from his major shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. He finished four innings and the Brewers had a 5-1 lead.
But he seemed to have lost his location at the end of those four innings, and it was immediately obvious starting the bottom of the fifth that he was struggling as he walked pitcher Madison Bumgarner on four pitches. Jimmy was left out there for three more batters, against whom he threw ONE strike, before he was removed. Houser had just gotten up and was seemingly rushed into the game before he was ready, walking the first hitter and then giving up a sac fly before retiring the final two. The inning was huge in the Crew eventually losing the game 8-7.
You have to balance working with Nelson to get through things as he comes back against having him leave with a successful appearance to build his confidence. Not having anybody ready in time to rescue that game in the fifth felt just counterintuitive.
With Jhoulys Chacin coming off the IL for a start Monday, and Gio Gonzalez throwing now and maybe a week out before returning, Milwaukee will soon have seven options for the rotation. With just one off day before the All-Star break, the Brewers plan on using a more-or-less six man rotation. Don’t know what that means for Freddy Peralta - I’m still hoping he gets some one inning relief appearances to see if short outings will allow his fastball to play at 95-96 MPH, and he can join Hader as a tough option late in games.
But I also hope it means that Nelson will be allowed to exit with a successful start before he gets into trouble in his next start.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Ken Rosenthal did his best Tom Haudricourt “Old Man Yelling At Clouds” imitation and wrote an article for “The Athletic” ($$) saying that baseball was becoming unwatchable because of all of the homeruns. Sigh. Of all the issues in and out of baseball to worry about...
Kyle posed the question to BCB participants as to whether baseball needed any fixing, and it was a really good discussion. Questions about how closely fans paid of attention, what needed fixing, and even the age of respondents were included. Luckybucky1006 tried for a balanced view:
35 year old who likes baseball and doesn’t think it needs to be “fixed” by some higher power
But is nuanced enough to realize that sometimes the dinger-or-strikeout modern incarnation can be less exciting, that bat flips are ok but aren’t the AWESOMEST THINGS EVER, and who doesn’t wonder “Do I even like baseball” as a pass or fail when observing the differences between today’s and yesteryear’s game. Things like this are cyclical, and trends come and go. The game in 30 years will probably be quite different from today’s game, and all you Millennials who are proudly “progressive” get to be the old codgers then.
Also, I think Manfred generally sucks.
See, Internet friends? It’s ok to be moderate.
If you’d like to read some hotter takes, check out the comments section. I have one more idea (and I’m never shy about sharing my ideas): stop throwing out baseballs that touched the ground. Allows the pitchers to get more movement. And it would save lots of money for MLB! We all know how hard up they are.
No off days this week - seven games, which may tax both the starting rotation and the bullpen. The road trip ends with three in San Diego (fresh off that ridiculous series in Denver), and then the Brewers come home for a four-game set with the Reds.
The Padres scored 44 runs in the four games with the Rockies, but allowed 47 and the two teams split the series. Of course, it was at high altitude. Hopefully they won’t keep scoring at that rate once they get back home.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you fathers, or your fathers, or anybody else. I counted about five flyballs in San Fran that would have been out of Miller Park. Reds beware!