Archive for the 'Brewers' Category

Brewers Hope to Churn up New Brew of Prospects

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

The Brewers have historically failed at developing a good farm system. Since myworld has been rating farm systems beginning in 2008 the Brewers have been in the top ten just once, that was in 2017. From 2011 to 2015 they appeared in the bottom five four of the five years. They traded many of the top prospects from that 2017 list (Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Isan Diaz) and one player graduated to the Brewers major league roster (Josh Hader), but they made the playoffs. That is all that counts. Last year the Brewers had six players rated in Top 100 lists (Brett Phillips, Luis Ortiz, Corey Ray, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Keston Hiura). Qualifying for the playoffs make it that much more difficult to draft elite players since you are picking later in the draft. Being a small market team, the Brewers have to compete taking advantage of younger, cheaper players.

The current farm system is short on pitchers but has a few scattered position players ready to make a contribution. The best of the group is Keston Hiura, the number one pick of the Brewers in 2017. His bat has batting titles written all over it. Elbow issues prevented him from showing off any defensive tools until mid-season of 2018. It does appear he will able to handle second base. While his hit tool is exceptional his other tools are average or just above average. If his arm gets better left field could be another possibility.

Brice Turang was the Brewers first round pick last year. As one of the top players on the 18 and under gold medal winning team the Brewers have got to be happy Brice dropped to him with the 21st pick. The tools are there to play short and he showed excellent patience at the plate in his first year with a 31/34 walk to whiff ratio. The only perceived weakness to his game at the present moment is his lack of power. Last year he slugged .352 with one homerun in over 150 at bats.

The Brewers still have hope that Lucas Erceg pans out. He shows a lot of power but that power rarely appears in a game. The Brewers were hoping for 20 dingers a year once he takes over third but he has yet to hit more than 15 in the minor leagues. He also struggles to make hard contact, his batting average dropping each of the last three years. With a full year at AA last year and Travis Shaw showing he can play second 2019 could be the year Lucas makes his major league debut.

The Brewers traded a 40 homerun bat in Kris Davis to acquire Jacob Nottingham from the Athletics. A couple injuries limited his minor league time to 50 games but he did make his major league debut. At 6′3″ he has power in his bat, but that height can make it awkward for him to maneuver behind the plate. He has enough skills to be the Brewers starting catcher in a couple years.

Mauricio Dubon got off to a fast start in AAA (.343 average with .922 OPS) but a torn ACL limited him to just a little over 100 at bats. Some question his ability with the bat, especially his lack of power so the 2019 season will be crucial to show that his fast start to the 2018 season was not a fluke. Dubon is a smooth fielding shortstop who could fill a utility role if he fails to make it as a shortstop.

The farm lacks a first base prospect but they are loaded in the outfield. Corey Ray was supposed to be a superstar after being drafted in the first round in 2016. A poor 2017 knocked the shine out of his status but he came back in 2018 with 27 homeruns. A propensity to strikeout (176 times last year) could keep his average low (.239). He has the speed to steal bases (39) and patrol centerfield and the arm to shift to right if that should prove necessary. The 2019 season should be his major league debut but better contact will improve his chances.

Joe Gray was a second round pick in 2018 who carries a lot of tools. His arm shoots rockets from right field and his bat can carry the ball a long way. The big concern with Gray is making consistent contact. Last year he had a 18/25 walk to whiff ratio in 24 games, showing good patience at the plate, but a .182 average was disappointing. The Brewers still have time to develop him.

Triston Lutz was a 2017 first round supplemental pick. Power will get him to the Brewers. A strong right arm will make right field a perfect fit. His struggles making contact will drop his average down to the .250 range. Last year he struck out 139 times in 119 games dropping his average to .245.

On the pitching front the pickings are a bit slim. Corbin Burnes has a shot to make the starting rotation next year. He barely qualifies as a prospect after pitching 30 games in relief for the Brewers last year. A good fastball/slider combination kept hitters off balance when called up to the major leagues with the opposition hitting him at a .199 clip. When he was starting in the minor leagues he was hit at a .275 clip. He also has a curveball and change so there are the quantity of pitches necessary to start, but his fastball and slider are so good that the bullpen could be his best role when limited to his best two offerings.

That is the extent of the pitchers that myworld can get excited about. Zack Brown put up some good numbers (9-1, 2.44 ERA) but we don’t know that much about him. A 6′1″ righthander that was drafted in the fifth round in 2016 out of college deserves a pause for caution. If he replicates those numbers in 2019 then we’ll get excited.

Puig Leads Dodgers to the World Series

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Yasiel Puig has lost his ability to be the center of attention and that is probably a good thing. Now he just blends in. Until he hits a three run homerun to lead the Dodgers to a 5-1 win. That is also probably a good thing.

It was actually a two run homerun from Cody Bellinger in the second inning that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. He was voted the MVP of the World Series despite only hitting .200. It was clutch catches, clutch running (beating out a DP grounder prior to the Puig Homeruns) and clutch hitting that got him the vote.

Puig extended that lead with a three run bomb off of the unlucky Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress had a couple unlucky outings in which he gave up big homeruns, his first to Justin Turner, a two run shot in the eighth inning of the second game that erased a 3-2 Brewer lead.

Rookie Walker Buehler did his best impression of Clayton Kershaw in his 4.2 innings of work. He struck out seven and only allowed a solo shot to Christian Yelich in the first. The only problem with that impersonation is Buehler throws righthanded and Kershaw sometimes struggles in the playoffs as a starting pitcher.

Kershaw did come on in the ninth to close out the game, putting an exclamation point to the victory, striking out two of the three hitters he faced. Striking out the last hitter and receiving the catcher’s hug is always a cool experience. Normally starting pitchers are not in that long to feel that initial celebratory vibe. Kershaw got to experience it.

The unsung hero may be Ryan Madson. He is not used to having regular season ERAs over 5.00. That does not matter when you enter the playoffs. He got five outs in game seven and finished with a playoff ERA of 1.80. Those are the kind of numbers he is used to seeing. He also was credited with the game seven win.

Now the World Series the networks were hoping to televise, the Red Sox versus the Dodgers. No back to back champs this year. You have to go back to 2000 for the last back to back champ. That was the year the New York Yankees won their third consecutive World Series. For the Dodgers though, they are going back to back in the World Series, and three appearances in the last four. But this time they hope to finish as a World Series winner, something they have not done since 1988.

Brewers Take it to Game Seven

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

The Brewers scored early scoring four in the first inning and then made it stick with their 7-2 win over the Dodgers to take the National League championship series to a game seven. After Wade Miley went the first 4.1 innings Craig Counsell turned it over to the bullpen and they were perfect for the last 14 outs (except for a hit by pitch from Corey Knebel). Knebel finished off the fifth and retired the Dodgers in the sixth. Jeremy Jeffress took care of the seventh and Corbin Burnes was perfect for the last two innings.

The victim of the first inning onslaught was Hyun-Jin Ryu. He lasted three innings but was batted around for five runs on seven hits. Only David Freese could generate any offense for the Dodgers with his solo shot to lead off the game and an RBI double in the fifth. The good news for the Brewers was Freese was double switched out of the game after the fifth. The last time Freese faced the Brewers in a league championship series back in 2011 when he was with the Cardinals he went deep three times, driving in 9 runs.

Jesus Aguilar has been struggling in the post season with a batting average of .172. Last night he came alive with a two run double in the first inning and an RBI single in the eighth. He also scored twice from his three hits and a walk.

In a bit of an oddity, Knebel got his first major league at bat in the playoff game. He has been in the major leagues since 2014 but has never carried a bat to the plate. In fact the last time he carried a bat to the plate was a high school game in 2010. He got another opportunity in the bottom of the fifth to hit with two outs and the bases loaded. Counsell could have pinch hit for him but he let him hit. Knebel struck out. Not bad for a guy who has not swung a bat in seven years. The saving grace is he pitched a scoreless sixth inning.

Dodgers and Red Sox Roll

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

The Brewers used Wade Miley for one batter and then went to their bullpen. The Dodgers used Clayton Kershaw for seven innings and went to their bullpen. Advantage Dodgers. They win the game 5-2.

Brandon Woodruff worked a starters load for the Brewers but he gave up three runs in five innings. Kershaw may have the numbers of a number five pitcher in playoff appearances but he was unhittable yesterday, allowing just one run in his seven innings while striking out nine. Kershaw may have lost some stuff because of injuries over the years but he can still put together dominating outings.

All five of the Dodgers runs came within a three inning span, 5th through 7th, when Woodruff may have started to get tired and Joakim Soria just was not effective in his seventh inning appearance, retiring only one hitter. Sometimes you can go to the well one time too often relying on your bullpen and find there is no more water left. The Brewers plan on starting Wade Miley for the critical sixth game to keep them in the playoffs.

For the third consecutive game the usual homer happy Dodgers went without, but they did steal bases and slap around seven singles with two doubles. Austin Barnes drove in the first run with a bleeder RBI single up the middle to tie the game 1-1. Yasiel Puig was standing in the on deck circle but Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to bat. The Brewers could have called the bluff and walked Barnes to bring up Yasiel Puig or Kershaw - but didn’t.

Puig was able to get his at bat in the sixth and drove in a run with a single. Max Muncy also had an RBI single, ignoring his homer happy ways to drive in runs to break the 1-1 tie. The two RBI singles put the Dodgers up 3-1. A Justin Turner RBI single and a Brian Dozier RBI ground out the next inning would make it 5-1. Not one RBI created from an extra base hit. That’s normally not the Dodgers formulae for winning games.

Red Sox 8 Astros 6

It was a wild game that many were probably unable to stay up late to watch. It ended on a diving catch by leftfielder Andrew Benintendi with the bases loaded. If he had not made the catch the Astros probably would have won the game 9-8 since the ball would have rolled to the corner of the left field wall and all three runners on base would have scored.

Jackie Bradley can not be called an unlikely hero anymore. He may be hitting ninth in the order, but the bat has been carrying the juice of a clean up hitter. His two run homerun in the sixth carried a long way and gave the Red Sox a 6-5 lead, a lead they would not relinquish. It also gave Bradley nine RBIs for the series two short of slugger David Ortiz for the franchise record for most RBIs in a playoff series.

There were six different times in this game a team took the lead or tied the game. That must have left a lot of fans dizzy. For those staying up late at night there was no time to take a break for sleep. You can do that at the office.

Kimbrel got the two inning save, but it was not easy. He gave up a run, walked three and issued two hits and probably would have lost the game if not for the Benintendi catch.

There was a bit of controversy on a non-catch. Mookie Betts made a leaping attempt to catch a ball by Jose Altuve that was clearly going over the fence for a two run homer. The replays show Betts may have been able to catch the ball but a fan touched the glove of Betts and prevented him from keeping it open to make the catch. If his glove was in play the interference call would have been valid. If his glove was hanging into the stands there should have been no interfence call. The replay officials did not reverse the fan interfence call since it was unclear whether his glove was in the stands when he made his leap.

Betts continued to show his gold glove wins are no fluke with another great play in the eighth. Tony Kemp hit what appeared to be a leadoff double down the right field line. Betts was able to get to the ball and rifle a strike to second to nail Kemp.

All three Red Sox outfielders combined their bats and their gloves to win this game, accounting for at least a plus 12 in the run department.

Dodgers Win Marathon to Even Series; Red Sox Blast Astros

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

There were lots of zeroes on the scoreboard in the Dodgers eventual 2-1 13 inning win over the Brewers. Gio Gonzalez only went one inning, giving up one run before a sprained ankle ended his day. The Brewer bullpen muscled down, throwing 11 shutout innings before Cody Bellinger ended the game with his walk off single in the bottom of the 13th to give the Dodgers a 2-1 win and even the series at two games each. Coming into this game Bellinger’s postseason average for 2018 was .048 and for his career .176.

The Dodgers bullpen also pitched well, not allowing a run for eight innings. Julio Urias, the one time Mexican sensation, came back from oblivion to throw one inning of shutout ball to get credit for the win, proving all that rehab from injury can pay off. Ryan Madson, who was horrible in relief during the regular season with the Nationals and Dodgers stranded a critical runner at third in the seventh and then pitched a scoreless eighth. Madson has only allowed one hit in his 3.1 post season innings, stranding six of the nine runners he has inherited.

Red Sox 8 Astros 2

Jackie Bradley has had his major league career defined as good glove but weak bat. He was again the Red Sox offensive hero with a grand slam homerun in the eighth inning that put the game out of reach and gave the Red Sox the win. It may have been his only hit in the game, but it was a big hit.

Nathan Eovaldi, whose career has been a bit of a disappointment considering his three digit fastball, was the pitching hero, going six innings and capturing the win while allowing two runs. Eovaldi is considered the hardest thrower from Alvin, Texas since, well Nolan Ryan, who was sitting in the stands rooting for his Houston Astros. Eovaldi’s fastball was ringing the radar at three digits.

Steve Pearce, another journeyman player who was a late acquisition from the Blue Jays broke a 2-2 tie with a solo homerun in the sixth. For Pearce it was his first post season homerun.

The Red Sox now lead the best of seven series two games to one.

Arcia and Chacin Lead Brewers to Win

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

Two names that are not normally linked to greatness. Last year Orlano Arcia showed some slugging ability with 15 homeruns. The 2018 season saw him digress with only three homeruns and a .307 slugging percentage. The poor hitting saw him relegated to the minor leagues twice last season. Last night he hit his third homerun of the playoffs, a two run shot in the seventh inning to seal the Brewers 4-0 win over the Dodgers, matching his entire output of the regular season. Now that is an unlikely hero.

When the name Jhoulys Chacin comes up your first thought isn’t of an ace in your rotation. Chacin has pitched for six different teams, but this year he shined with the Brewers for a career high 15 wins and a 3.50 ERA. That shine continues through the playoffs as he went 5.1 shutout innings allowing just three hits and striking out six. For Chacin that is his second consecutive shutout start. Based on his last outing against the Dodgers this was totally unexpected. The last time Cchacin faced the Dodgers on August 2 they assaulted him for nine runs in 4.1 innings smashing three homeruns.

When you mention Travis Shaw you usually think of a slugging third baseman now second baseman who carries balls over the fence. His lack of speed does not have you thinking about triples. In his four major league seasons he has three triples. Add one more for the playoffs. Shaw tripled in the sixth and then continued to use his legs to race home on a wild pitch.

Jeremy Jeffress added some stress in the ninth by loading the bases with just one out. With luck back on his side he was able to strike out Yasmani Grandal and Brian Dozier to preserve the shutout. With the struggles of Jeffress many were hoping that Josh Hader would come out to finish the ninth.

Yasmani Grandal heard some boos from the LA crowd. He continues to have too many balls travel to the back stop. Last night he had one passed ball and a wild pitch. His strikeout with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and with runners on second and third in the second, both with one out, did not sit well with LA fans. My bet is that Austin Barnes catches tonight.

Dodgers Even Series; Astros Strike First Against Red Sox

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Dodgers 4 Brewers 3

Normally myworld would not consider Justin Turner an unlikely hero, but after the game last night when he struck out to end the game with the tying run on third, one of his four strikeouts in five at bats, we had to reconsider. He was the hero last night with a two run homer off Brewer closer Jeremy Jeffress in the top of the eighth to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. The bullpen was able to secure the victory, with Kenley Jansen pitching the ninth to get the save.

The Brewers had jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Wade Miley throwing 5.2 shutout innings but the Brewers bullpen coughed up two in the seventh and two in the eighth to take the loss.

Myworld has a saying - forget the past, focus on the present because that will impact your future. Turner forgot about his ineptness last night, focused on his current at bat and won the game.

The probable MVP of the National League, Christian Yelich came up with the tying run on second and grounded out to end the game. Perhaps he will be the hero in game three.

Astros 7 Red Sox 2

Yulieski Gurriel was a big time player in Cuba. He is a solid hitter in the major leagues, but doesn’t really hit for the power teams expect from their first baseman. That power comes in spurts and last night he had one of his spurts. His three run homerun in the ninth inning sealed the win for the Astros, turning the Red Sox seats empty as they won the opening game in their American League championship series. Josh Reddick had opened the inning with a homerun, turning a 3-2 lead into 4-2. The two homeruns in the ninth extended the Astros streak of homeruns in playoff games to 13, becoming the second team in history to accomplish that feat.

Carlos Correa provided the game winning hit with a broken bat single off a 100 mile per hour fastball delivered by Joe Kelly. Chris Sale lasted just four innings, walking four and hitting one batter. The Astros were only able to collect five hits, but 10 walks and three hit batsmen gave them the opportunities they needed to score runs.

Brewers Hang on Against Stumbling Dodgers

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

The Brewers took advantage of some poor fielding plays and a homerun from a most unlikely source to beat the Dodgers 6-5 in their opener. It truly was a most unexpected person that was the difference in this game in our continued quest to identify the most unlikely heroes.

Rookie Brandon Woodruff took over for Gio Gonzalez after he could go only two innings by design. The Brewers only wanted Gio to go through the order once and let the bullpen do the rest. Enter Woodruff who worked two perfect innings, striking out four to get credit for the win. But it was not his arm that won the game. It was his bat. In the bottom of the third, against Clayton Kershaw, Woodruff went deep with a blast measured at just over 400 feet. It is the first time in post season play that a pitcher hitting lefthanded has hit a homerun against a lefthanded pitcher. It is not the first time that Clayton Kershaw has pitched poorly, as his disappointing playoff appearances continue.

That tied the game at 1-1. Nothing could go right after that for the Dodgers in the next two innings. A single and walk put two runners on when Yasmani Grandal had a nightmare inning. A passed ball advance the runners to second and third and a catcher’s interference loaded the bases. Hernan Perez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 but Grandal allowed the throw home to get by him allowing the other runners to advance. Fortunately the last error did not hurt.

The poor fielding continued in the fourth when Chris Taylor allowed a single to get by him to put runners on second and third. Santana singled to score both runners. With one out Santana stole second but was originally called out. Replay reversed the call and the Brewers took advantage with a Ryan Braun single to score Santana. That made the score 5-1.

Josh Hader was extended three innings, keeping the Dodgers at one run going into the eighth. With a 6-1 the Dodgers fought back with three in the eighth. Chris Taylor hit an RBI triple in the ninth to make it 6-5 but Corey Knebel was able to strike out Justin Turner to win the game. For poor Justin it was his fourth whiff in five at bats.

Brewers Sweep Rockies; Braves Stay Alive

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Last year Wade Miley had trouble getting anyone out. The opposition hit him at a .287 clip while he was pitching for the Orioles, finishing with an 8-15 record with a 5.61 ERA. It was his second straight season with an ERA over 5, spanning a career where his ERA rose every year starting with the 2012 season.

This year Miley had a career year, starting the season in the minor leagues, getting a call up in May but missing a couple months with an oblique injury. When he pitched he was exceptional, limiting the opposition to a career low .237 batting average while going 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 starts.

Last night the Brewers called on him to continue the magic and he threw zeroes for 4.2 innings to lead the Brewers to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies, extending their winning streak to 11 games. It was the second consecutive game in which the Rockies were shutout.

The Brewers got homeruns from some unexpected players in this game, when you considered the season they had or the season they were expected to have. The great fielding shortstop Orlando Arcia, who only hit .233 during the regular season bashed a solo shot in the ninth. Keon Broxton, who spent much of his 2018 season in the minor leagues made it back to back with a pinch hit homer. Jesus Aguilar, who was not the starting first baseman when the season started but hit 35 homeruns after injuries and homeruns put him in the starting lineup hit a solo shot in the fourth, his first career post season hit. The 38 year old catcher Erik Kratz also contributed with three hits and is now hitting .625 for his post season debut.

The Braves kept their series alive getting a grand slam homerun from rookie Ronald Acuna to take a 5-0 lead. Acuna became the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to hit a grand slam homerun. Mickey who? After the Dodgers came back to tie the game at 5-5 it came upon the longest tenured Brave, veteran Freddie Freeman to break the tie with a solo homerun in the sixth.

The Braves called on their young pitching staff to keep the victory alive, rookies Touki Touissant and A.J. Minter each tossing an inning of shutout ball, before Arodys Vizcaino closed out the ninth to pick up the save, striking out Muncy, Machado and Dozier with two runners on. Viz knows how to increase the gray hairs of all those who watched the game.

Unsung Heroes in this Foursome of Playoff Games

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

Myworld continues to look at some of the unsung heroes in these playoff games. Those players who were not really expected to contribute, especially when you looked at their career path before the 2018 season started.

Houston Astros 7 Cleveland Indians 2

The usual suspects in George Springer, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve went deep in the Astros win. An unusual suspect also went deep in Martin Maldonado, a seventh inning shot that turned the momentum on the Indians. The Indians had scored two in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2 but Maldonado’s solo shot in the seventh tamed their celebratory mood. Prior to the season Maldonado was an Angel. The Astros acquired him after an injury to Brian McCann. They liked his defense. Yesterday they liked his offense as well. To many Astro fans he has become an angel.

Justin Verlander did not allow a hit through the first five innings. When he got in trouble in the sixth, giving up two runs the Astros called on Ryan Pressly, not a usual choice in the Astros pen. Pressly also started his 2018 season with another team (the Minnesota Twins) stitching together an ERA north of 3 in his six years with Minnesota. Since being acquired from the Twins Pressly has appeared in 26 games with the Astros, limiting the opposition to a 0.77 ERA and a .136 opposition average. He retired all five hitters he faced, striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning, though he did allow both inherited runners to score on a wild pitch and a ground out.

Boston Red Sox 5 New York Yankees 4

J.D. Martinez slugged a three run homer for the Red Sox. There were no unsung heroes unless you want to tout the defensive play of Sandy Leon behind the plate, stopping many balls from crashing into the back stop.

Milwaukee Brewers 4 Colorado Rockies 0

The Brewers went up 2-0 on the Rockies. The pitching staff shut down the Rockies offense, but it was the usual suspects quieting the bats. For the Brewers it was their tenth straight win.

Myworld has to go to our third catcher named as an unsung hero, the 38 year old Erik Kratz, who was appearing in his first playoff game in his career, a career that has always found him as the back up catcher for the seven or so major league teams he has played for since 2010. He started this year as the back up catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting only .236 during the regular season, which was above his .211 career average. Yesterday, besides calling a good game that did not allow the Rockies a run, he also got a clutch hit in the eighth inning, a two run single that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game. It has been since 1905 when a position player older than Erik Kratz started his first playoff game, that player being the equally non-descript Lave Cross, a third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Asked if that was the biggest hit of his career Kratz remarked that he did hit a homerun in a AAA playoff game. Come on Erik. I’d take a two run single in a major league playoff game over a homerun in AAA.

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 Atlanta Braves 0

The Braves bats have certainly had a power outage. After being shutout by Ryu the day before they were also shutout by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw pitched 8 innings of shutout ball, striking out three. Manny Machado swatted a two run homer in the first and Yasmani Grandal hit a solo shot in the fifth. This game was absent unsung heroes, but in the playoffs Kershaw has always struggled. Coming into this playoff game his playoff ERA sat at 4.35. The eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.05. That still falls far short of his career regular season ERA of 2.39.