Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brewers/Cubs series review - We Won a Game!

This review is brought to you by The Goat Emporium. Goat Heads: Because what else would you expect?

Will the rain ever end? The weather finally caught up with the team and washed out the would-be final game of the series tonight, meaning that this bad boy is over, baby.

What a hum dinger this series was! And when I say that, I mean it was about as good as an episode of "Keeping Up the Kardashians" (I know, how 2012 of me!). It actually wasn't that bad, they did win a game after all, but it feels like they should have won both. To sum up this series – the offense looked good for the first 11 innings, the starting pitching looked worlds better (even if it was the Cubs), and the bullpen appears to be as bad, if not worse, than last year. The hot topic in Brewer Nation today surrounded Roenicke's decision to use John Axford for an additional inning after bringing him into a tie game in the 7th to get the final out. And right in line with the rest of his 2013 season to date, Axford bombed again, promptly loading the bases before being pulled in favor of Alfredo Figaro, who allowed all three baserunners to score (et tu, Alfredo?).

I made my own thoughts pretty clear last night on Twitter as to what I thought of Roenicke's decision to stick with Axford, so I'll try to be a little more even-keeled here. I get what he was thinking: tie game, have a somewhat tired bullpen, just lost Narveson to the DL, and don't want to go into extras burning two relievers against two batters. I get that. The question I'm wondering, more or less, was why he even used Axford in the 7th to begin with? In case you've been living under a rock recently, John Axford has not been good so far this season. Some think it may be a change in his release point, others pointing to dips in velocity, but whatever the reason is, he's been really off and getting absolutely bludgeoned. He's been getting hit so hard, in fact, that Roenicke removed him from the closer role just a couple days ago. So why did he go with Ax if we're not even sure whether or not he actually trusts him? Your guess is as good as mine. The facts are these: John Axford has been mostly ineffective this season, and whether or not he'll eventually figure it out, he probably should be kept away from high-leverage situations for a long while.

So, what could have been a pretty good series ended on a sour note, despite a good showing by the other facets of the team: offense and starting pitching. And actually, if we want to get technical, the offense may not have even scored more than one run yesterday if not for some rough defense by Starlin Castro (which isn't terribly unusual). Even still, Estrada and Peralta both looked on top of their games, giving the team at least 6 2/3 innings on back-to-back nights. Maybe this little bit of success will spread through the Brewers dugout like a raging case of Good Luck Pox? Or maybe they'll just spread Chicken Pox. Wouldn't that be the worst?

Okay, enough blather, it's awards time.

MVP: Wily Peralta

I know. Braun was 5 for 9, and Aoki has been on fire. But guess what? Ryan Braun will often be 5 for 9, and I want to save giving this honor to Aoki for that one series he'll have this year where he'll somehow hit 3 home runs, including 2 in one game.

The big question coming into this season was the pitching, and after the first 6 games, things we're not looking good for anyone outside of the usual suspects. If the Brewers hopes for this year and beyond fall on anyone in particular, though, it's this young man. Peralta has been rated as the Brewers top prospect by pretty much every baseball analyst out there, and he sure looked the part last night. He had his fastball topping out at 96 mph, moving away and in on hitters like it was being pulled by a string. Yes, it was the Cubs, and on top of that, it was a cold night. But you know what? Peralta already has the stuff to put away top-level hitters regardless, and there's little questioning that. What he needs to find is consistency in his control, and 62 strikes out of 94 pitches is exactly the kind of thing that will lead to long term success. Very nice to see out of a young pitcher like Peralta.

And on top of everything else, he was 1-2 with a walk. Eat your heart out, Yovani!

LVP: The Bullpen

I've got the fear, you guys. I've got it real bad.

Okay, bit of an overreaction there. As poor as the bullpen has looked so far, I'm going to predict that things get straightened out sooner rather than later. A common trend with early struggles is that they either fix themselves quickly or are eliminated through replacement. It's highly unlikely Axford sees a save situation again any time soon, and aside from a couple struggles this series, Kintzler, Figaro  and Henderson have looked better than decent. I'm all aboard a bullpen by committee, because when you don't have a dominant relief pitcher, you're better off riding the hot hand.

Don't believe me? Just look at the last two World Series champs. The Cardinals and Giants we're having some rather troubling bullpen issues until they hit the final stretch towards the playoffs. And you know how they did it? Handing the ball to whoever was throwing the best at the time. Sometimes, it's just that easy.

Play of the Series:

Fun fact: Marco Estrada is averaging one hit per start, and has an many RBIs as Aramis Ramirez so far this season. Pitcher hits are always the best.

What's Next:

The Brewers road trip continues into the cannibalistic Ozarks of St. Louis. Reformed baby-eater, Kyle Lohse, will be starting the first game of the series against his former team and his replacement, Shelby Miller. The Cardinals are 5-4 to start the year, but have just lost their closer, Jason Motte ,to the DL for what might be the season. That's not to say their new closer, Mitchell Boggs, is much worse than Motte, especially coming off of a nice year playing 8th-inning guy for manager Mike Matheny, but his Axfordian start to the season may give way to some pretty wild ninth innings throughout this series. Oh, and did I mention that the Cardinals eat babies?

We don't discriminate on species.

Till Friday, folks. Keep the faith!

No comments:

Post a Comment