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Brew Crew Ball Mailbag #14: Exploring a Taylor Rogers reunion

Answering this week’s questions for the weekly mailbag

Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Brew Crew Ball Mailbag!

This is a make-or-break week for the Brewers, as they begin today 1.5 (technically 2.5) games out of the final Wild Card spot with a tough trio of opponents coming up on the schedule.

Let’s jump right into this week’s questions.

wiguy94 asks:

What is a reasonable deal for Taylor Rogers this offseason? I think something in the range of 2/12 to 2/15 could get it done.

Rogers has shown enough that the Brewers should have some interest in bringing him back. Since coming to Milwaukee, he has decreased his sinker usage by nearly eight percentage points while ramping up his slider usage to north of 60%. His strikeout rate as a Brewer is a tremendous 39.4%, and his called strike plus whiff rate is up to 38.5%.

The culprit for Rogers’ poor 4.67 ERA since the trade is that he’s coughed up four home runs in 17 13 innings. That appears to be a pretty fluky development, though. He’s suppressed long balls at an above-average rate in every season of his career.

Something in the two-year, $12 million range ought to get it done, but I’m sure the Brewers would prefer a one-year deal. If Rogers is adamant on getting a multi-year guarantee, he may head elsewhere.

Mtcunning3 asks:

Will the Brewers make the playoffs?


KDean75 asks:

Assuming the Brewers start losing more so the playoffs aren’t an option, does it make sense to call up Ruiz to play 2B to see how he looks there? With Mitchell and Frelick, CF might be covered next year, but it feels safe to say that Wong won’t be re-signed so 2B is a bit up in the air for next year.

I don’t know that the Brewers consider Ruiz an option at second base. He started five games there in winter ball last offseason, but that represented his first action at the keystone since 2019. Ruiz is probably capable of playing the position in a pinch, but it seems unlikely that he’ll get much of a look there. He’s primarily an outfielder at this point.

kozlow22 asks:

Since Huira has come back up he has changed his profile. Is there anything to suggest his approach is sustainable? He has reduced his k rate 38%, raised his hard hit rate, raised his ISO and has a more sustainable BABIP. That being said his BB rate has plummeted to 4.6% which has killed his OBP but his wOBA is still good at .331. PS I looked at his 2nd half numbers which I think is all after he came up vs finding the date because I am lazy.

It’s a sample of 87 plate appearances, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say he changed his profile. Hiura has adopted a more closed stance since returning from Triple-A, but while it may be helping him make slightly more contact against fastballs, his strikeout rate remains concerningly high.

Hiura’s success was never sustainable, so it’s possible he’s starting to regress with increased exposure. There’s a reason why the Brewers were so hesitant to give him playing time for most of the year. The book is not yet closed on his strange season, though.

Coconut-Shy asks:

How do you explain what’s become of Christian Yelich? He’s not the same player that the Brewers thought they were getting when they signed him to that HUGE contract. Is the 2022 version of Yelich pretty much what we should expect for the remainder of that contract?

At this point, the most likely explanation appears to be that shattering his kneecap in September 2019 messed with Yelich’s timing, and he’s failed to perfectly recapture it since. That would explain why he has fouled off or swung through seemingly hittable pitches that he once demolished.

Many like to point toward hitting too many ground balls as a driving force behind Yelich’s decline, yet he was always a heavy ground-ball hitter, even at his peak. Rather, when he does elevate the ball, he’s not making the same solid contact that he has in the past. Yelich’s average exit velocity on non-grounders is at its lowest since 2017, and his FanGraphs hard contact rate on such batted balls is a career-worst.

At the height of his powers, Yelich’s timing was locked in. It’s been off for at least a couple of years now, and the result has been less ideal contact.

The silver lining is that since Craig Counsell reassigned him to the leadoff role on June 8, Yelich has posted a strong .284/.388/.408 line, which is good for a 126 wRC+. That’s still not what the Brewers are paying him for, but it’s productive nonetheless. I think those numbers are a realistic expectation for him moving forward.

Thanks for your questions this week! We’ll do this again in seven days.