Monday, April 22, 2013

Brewers/Cubs series review - Taking advantage of mistakes

Friday, 4/19 Brewers 5, Cubs 4
Saturday, 4/20 Brewers 5, Cubs 1
Sunday, 4/21 Brewers 4, Cubs 2

Win Probability Stars:
4/21, Ryan Braun homered to left, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jean Segura scored (+.350 WPA)
4/19, Ryan Braun homered to left, Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura scored (+.131 WPA)
4/21, Alfonso Soriano grounded into a double play, Anthony Rizzo out at second (Wily Peralta pitching) (-.108 WPA)

Despite the sweep, the Brewers didn't necessarily dominate the series. Every game was close, but the Brewers won by taking advantage of mistakes made by the Cubs both in the field and on the mound. Chicago committed six errors (at least one in each game) and every one would eventually result in runs for the Brewers. Errors are subjective and kind of a silly statistic to evaluate defense, but every one of the Cubs' mistakes were worthy of the title. Of course, the Brewers made one incredible blunder of their own (more on that later), but were able to overcome it.

The other story of the series was the Brewers' pitching. They got quality starts out of Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta, and an excellent debut (5 IP, 1 ER) out of fresh call-up Hiram Burgos. The bullpen contributed 9 1/3 innings giving up only one run. The offense was merely okay despite the run totals, mostly having a couple big innings surrounded by stretches of nothingness.

All told, it was a pretty bland series for the Brewers, which is odd considering it was a sweep. But beating the #Cubes is always pretty sweet.

MVP: Ryan Braun

Braun hit big home runs in two of the games, so this was a pretty easy choice. Overall, Braun's had an odd start to the season, basically amounting to a three-true-outcomes player (14 hits, 5 HR, 10 BB, 20 K in 60 plate appearances). He also sports an incredibly low 3.3 line drive %, which is bizarre. I'm sure it's small-sample weirdness, but it's still strange to see on his stat sheet.

LVP: Alex Gonzalez

Rickie Weeks was under consideration, but he still worked some deep counts and drew his walks. Gonzalez went 0-for-the series, his only bright spot being an RBI groundout. It's been a commonly held belief that Yuniesky Betancourt will be the odd man out when Aramis Ramirez or Jeff Bianchi return from the DL, but Gonzalez has played the worst of the bench players by far, and hasn't been as good with the glove as expected.

Play of the Series: Jean Segura's baserunning decision

This is the blunder I was referring to earlier. It seems weird to pick a bad play for this award, but it stands out more than anything else. Braun's game-winner on Sunday will probably be forgotten in a few days, but Segura's retreat back to first after being picked off trying to steal third is without a doubt the strangest thing I've ever seen in a baseball game. And I've seen this (hey, Kyle Lohse was involved).

What's Next:

The Brewers head to glorious Petco Park in San Diego, looking to add to their 7-game winning streak. Petco hasn't been kind to the Brewers lately but Braun did hit three bombs and a triple in one game there last year, so there's that.

Probable starters
4/22 Lohse vs. Marquis
4/23 Gallardo vs. Richard
4/24 Estrada vs. Volquez

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