Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Brewers/Pirates: Is this real life?

Friday, 5/24 Brewers 2, Pirates 1
Saturday, 5/25 Brewers 2, Pirates 5
Sunday, 5/26 Brewers 4, Pirates 5

Win Probability Stars:
5/26  Ryan Braun doubled to left. Weeks, Aoki, and Segura score (WPA .237)
5/24  Alex Gonzlez doubled to center.  Ramirez and Gomez score. (WPA .113)
5/26  Jeff Bianchi tripled. (WPA .101)

Another series against the Pirates another near sweep, in bizarro land.  The Brewers are supposed to dominate the Pirates.   They have for years, but for the second series in a row against the Pirates they nearly got swept.  And again, the Brewers only win resulted from another stellar performance from Estrada.

I’m not typically an alarmist, but a few things have got me worried about this team.  Namely, the Brewers’ starting pitching.  Estrada was the only guy to go past the 4th inning.  Fiers went 4 and gave up 3 earned runs.  He was making a spot start for Lohse who is dealing with “elbow tightness.”  But since Burgos is on the DL and Narveson is still throwing simulated games, unless the Brewers decide to make a move, Fiers is going to remain in the rotation for at least a little while.  We can always hope he’ll find a bit of what he had the first half of last year, but so far we haven’t seen that.

Gallardo continued his struggles with command and therefore his efficiency which has been compounded by his downward trending velocity.  He lasted only 4 innings, giving up 4 runs, while throwing 94 pitches.  He never was a true major league ace, but now he might not even be a number 2 type pitcher.   I still like Gallardo and I do think he can be an above average pitcher again, but he’s going to have to learn to pitch with his lower velocity and tighten his command, something he’s always struggled with. 

It’s not all on the starting rotation however.  The Brewers averaged 3 runs per game, but just scored 2 runs in the first two of the series.  Only Aoki, Segura, Braun, Gomez, and Ramirez when he’s playing, are hitting.  Everyone else has been miserable.  Corey Hart still hasn’t begun a rehab assignment so there is no date for his return which means we’re going to have to sit through the first base platoon of Betancourt and Gonzalez for the foreseeable future.  That does not bode well.  Lucroy and Weeks have yet to find their stride and have both seen their playing time reduced because of it.  As a result Bianchi has seen some starts at second base and has performed well enough, but he’s not a long-term solution.  As for Lucroy’s back-up, Maldonado, he’s been about as “good” as Luc. 

There is room for optimism.  Lohse is supposed to start Thursday or Friday so hopefully his elbow problems aren’t serious and overall he’s been good.  Gallardo has history on his side and hopefully he can turn his season around.  Peralta’s velocity is just so good, if he can improve his command there is no reason to believe he can’t be as good or close to, as he was in his starts last year.  Chris Narveson is on the mend and should be joining the haggard rotation sometime in the next few weeks barring a setback.  That’s…something.  Corey Hart too should be returning…this year anyway.  I also believe Lucroy and Weeks will start hitting again.  In fact, I’ll be so bold as to say that Weeks is back to his old self in by mid-June!  Still, it’s deep hole they got themselves in.  If they win 60% of the rest of their games (using their record after Monday’s game) they’ll end the season with 86-87 wins.  That’ll probably place them just shy of the second wild card.  But hey, Segura stole first base this year so stranger things have happened.

MVP: Marco Estrada

I promise one of these times I’ll give the MVP to someone other than Estrada, but to me he was again the clear choice.  He gave the Brewers 7 splendid innings and only gave up 1 run which was essential since the team only scored twice.  Estrada wasn’t just good he was perfect through the first 4 innings.  Neil Walker broke up the perfect game and no hitter with a single in the 5th inning with 2 outs.  Before that Estrada had retired the first 14 batters of the game.  He struck out 8 batters, allowed four hits, and zero walks. 

LVP: Yovani Gallaro

It hurts me to do it, but I had to give it to Gallardo.  He’s supposed to be the ace of the staff and the Brewers really needed him to pitch like it after a short start from Fiers the day before.  Instead he only pitched 4 innings and gave up 4 runs.  The bullpen came in an only gave up 1 run in the last 5 innings, but if the Brewers continue to ask them for 4 or 5 innings then they’re going to get worn out pretty fast.

Play of the SeriesSegura's home run to center

There were actually a few plays I could have gone with.  Gonzalez’s game winning double, Gomez’s two home runs, and Braun’s 3-RBI double were the chief competition.  In the end I gave it to Segura’s home run to center because it was gone by a lot.  Most of Segura’s home runs have gone down the line and one could argue that put into question his true power: Is he just getting lucky.  But this home run was hit to the deepest part of the park and it was a no-doubter.  I have no real idea what his home run potential for a season is, but I’m a lot more optimistic after watching that one.

What’s Next:

Let’s pretend this isn’t late and Monday’s game has been played already, okay?  So, ahem: Next up is the Twins.  They’re awful this year so yay for the Brewers!  Peralta should have an easy task ahead of him on Monday.  Then on Tuesday we’ll see a spot start from Alfredo Figaro.  It’s going to be a tough day for the bullpen, but I’m sure Peralta will go deep enough in the game on Monday to help them rest up in preparation.

Probable Pitchers
Monday, 5/26 Peralta vs Correia

Tuesday, 5/27 Figaro vs Diamond

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