Friday, April 19, 2013

Brewers/Giants Series Review - "They Might Be Giants..."

Tuesday, 4/16 Brewers 10, Giants 8
Wednesday, 4/17 Brewers 4, Giants 3
Thursday, 4/18 Brewers 7, Giants 2

Win Probability Added stars
April 16th, Rickie Weeks (+.143 WPA)
April 17th, Carlos Gomez (+.342 WPA)
April 18th, Yovani Gallardo (+.164 WPA)

(Apologies on the delay, faithful followers; had a hard time focusing on baseball last night, as many of you were, I'm sure.)

6 days ago, the Brewers were 2-8 and in the midst of a humiliating offensive futility streak. Things at the time looked like they would never be good again.

Today, the Brewers are 6-8 after completing a sweep against the reigning World Series champs, and are riding a 4-game winning streak. Amazing what kind of difference a week can make, right?

Things finally started to click for the Crew this series, and it's possible that the Giants still don't know what hit them, although I imagine that they really just wanted to get back to Constantinople by the end of game 3. Their pitching, a normally stout rotation backed by a nasty bullpen, took an absolute beating at the hands of the Brewers bats (thanks largely in part to the bottom part of the order). When you're getting bludgeoned by two players with a combined .292 career OBP, you know it's not your week.

Yes, Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt took it upon themselves to pick up the Brewers at seemingly every turn this past series. Roenicke's benching of Gomez last Saturday may have just done the trick for speedy center fielder, because since then he has gone 10-15 at the plate with 6 runs and 2 extra-base hits. It certainly is a promising turn for him to start producing this way after signing a 3-year extension this past offseason worth $24 million. The Brewers will be the first to tell you that they're not paying Gomez to be a world beater offensively, but they certainly expect him to stick close to the 105 wRC+ he posted with the club last season, which in unison with his good defense in center field valued him as a 3-win player. It also helps when you're getting the benefit of calls like this.

Foul ball? Probably. But hey, long live the "human error"!

Gomez isn't the only Brewer to put an early slump behind him after recently signing a contract extension. Also dating back to the game against the Cardinals last Sunday, Jonathan Lucroy's bat has  come back to life a bit, with his most recent stretch having him go 7-17 with 2 HRs. Luc signed his 5-year extension before the beginning of the 2012 season, but after missing a good amount of time with a fractured hand last year, there's a little bit of an expectation for him to meet in order to feel like he's earned his contract. The reason for Lucroy's early struggles? His line drive % has been down just a wee bit from his career average.

A concern? Not really. His fly ball % has actually been up just a tick, and as one would expect, the cold weather has not been allowing those fly balls to carry much of anywhere so far...unless you're Justin Upton.

The object about to enter this image is now in orbit.
Kyle Lohse Watch: After another nice outing by the Brewers recently acquired pitcher, it is in this blogger's opinion that this Lohse thing might just work out. It's still rather unlikely he'll finish the year with an ERA under 3, but perhaps we all underestimated just how effective he could be. I recalled reading a couple pieces on how Lohse has reinvented himself into a groundball pitcher, utilizing a nice sinker/slider/changeup combo that have been giving opponents fits. His ability to throw his breaking pitches for strikes, though, has definitely been as big of a factor in his success, as this graph will better illustrate from his past three starts.

Mmmmm that's good offspeed.
We'll see just how long Lohse keeps this kind of success going, but continuing to pound the zone is a good way to maintain it, especially if he wants to be a real leader.

MVP: Yuniesky Betancourt

I feel so dirty for typing that. Each letter burned more than the one previous to it.

However, it's hard to argue he didn't play a big role this past series. He did. Whenever there was a big hit, Yuni had it. He put the Giants in a hole each game, whether it was scoring the first run of game two, or tacking on to an already established lead.

Whether I or anyone else would like to admit it, Yuni has been effective as a replacement at first base, and is currently carrying an .805 OPS in this very early season. Will he sustain that number? Definitely not. This is still Betancourt we're talking about. But if the Brewers needed someone to step up in the absence of their two All-Star corner infielder, Yuni has answered that call.

LVP: Alex Gonzalez

Things are definitely going well when it's tough to pick someone for this category. It's really a silly category, actually, since there usually is never one sole hero or goat in a baseball game. You win as a team and lose as a team.

However, I'm not here to talk semantics. I'm here to talk about who has been cold as ice. You might want to put Rickie Weeks here, but I've actually seen promising signs out of Weeks recently, who I'd be so willing to predict is going to break out of his slump as soon as tonight. Gonzalez, on the other hand, looks like a 36-year old utility player trying to keep his head above water. His plate approach is resulting in him making some weak outs, his defense in the field has been surprisingly shaky, and all in all, he just hasn't been very good.

That's not to say he couldn't turn things around, but it wouldn't be too surprising to find that Father Time has finally caught up with old Seabass, and he may not have much left to give even once he does "get it going." The Brewers are certainly fortunate that Jean Segura is playing well early, because if not, the shortstop situation could have been pretty sticky going forward.

Play of the Series

Yuni hit a grand slam, Gallardo hit a home run and Segura played some great defense. My play of the series though? Lalli's game-winning hit on Wednesday.

Talk about a cool moment. A minor league journeyman who fights for a roster spot year in and year out gets a big chance, and delivers. Oh, and it was his first hit for the Brewers, to boot. Good for him. We can talk all we want about his value to the club and what not, but it's hard not to root for somebody who's really just willing to do anything it takes to help a major league club succeed.

Hats off to you, Mr. Lalli. Hopefully that's just one of many big hits for you this season.

What's Next:
The Brewers continue their homestand tonight against the lovable losers from the northside of Chicago. The Cubs come in at 5-9 after winning just 2 of their last 6 games. Their best story this season, so far, has been the success of their de facto ace, Jeff Samazaazazaajjazjjsqaza. The Brewers will send Marco Estrada to the mound to face off against him this evening as they search for their 5th straight win.

4/19 - Estrada vs. Samardzija
4/20 - Burgos vs. Jackson
4/21 - Peralta vs. Feldman

No comments:

Post a Comment