Thursday, May 2, 2013

Brewers/Pirates series review - moar runz

Monday, 4/29 Brewers 10, Pirates 4
Tuesday, 4/30 Brewers 12, Pirates 8
Wednesday, 5/1 Pirates 6, Brewers 4

Win Probability Stars
4/30 Yuniesky Betancourt homered to right (+.189 WPA)
4/30 Martin Maldonado doubled to left, Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez scored (+.175 WPA)
4/30 Jean Segura homered to right center (+.169 WPA)

The Pittsburgh Pirates played baseball games in Milwaukee, which means the Pittsburgh Pirates lost baseball games. Even with Wednesday's loss, the Brewers are a stunning 46-8 against the Pirates at Miller Park. Someday, the Pirates will be better than the Brewers. Someday, the Pirates will be able to win games at Miller Park. But that day isn't here yet; the Pirates still look like a AAA team whenever they set foot into the Dairy State. Their normally solid pitching was awful, as a (sort of) watered-down Brewers offense hung 24 runs (with 10 dingers) on them in three games

Pittsburgh actually scored a fair amount of runs in this series, and left fielder Starling Marte proved to be a significant thorn in the Brewers' side. He hit big home runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, including one off a 1-1 pitch from John Axford that wasn't even in the strike zone. It's hard to take much of the rest of their offense seriously, seeing as it's composed of a bunch of defense-first guys or platoon players, but the Pirates might have something in Marte and that McCutchen guy.

The Brewers might also have something in Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, who went a combined 11-22 with four walks and four homers in the series. It's hard to put into words how great those two have been, providing tremendous offensive production and elite defensive positions. The fact that the Brewers are over .500 without Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart is pretty incredible, and both Gomez and Segura are huge reasons for that. Both will regress at some point, but they've both been pretty fun to watch at the plate while providing excellent defense.

I suppose this is the part of the review where I should mention Yuniesky Betancourt (who had a big series of his own), but I feel like his production is some elaborate hoax. He has not changed one bit at the plate, yet somehow is on pace for 44 home runs and 137 RBI's. He's also played remarkably not-awful defense, which probably has something to do with playing at positions that are not shortstop. There's really no analysis to be given, because there's no explanation. Smoke 'em while you got 'em, I guess.

MVP: Carlos Gomez

I've already mentioned how good Gomez, Segura, and Betancourt were in this series, but Gomez takes the cake. Despite Carlos' career OBP south of .300, it's gotten to the point where it seems like some sort of witchcraft on the opposing pitcher's part when Gomez makes an out. I expected his power surge from last year to continue, but he's been a much better hitter overall at the plate, spraying the ball all over the field.

There's enough of a track record to suggest that Carlos Gomez will turn back into Carlos Gomez at some point, but either way that contract extension was a steal.

LVP: John Axford

This was a tough pick seeing as his meltdown on Wednesday wasn't all his fault (an infield hit and an error contributed to two of the runs), but it's the only negative in the series that sticks out. His homer problem doesn't appear to be going away. Honorable mention to Marco Estrada, who pitched poorly on Tuesday night but opposing starter James McDonald was hilariously worse.

Play of the Series: Rickie Weeks' three-run homer

It was a big moment in a close and exciting game, and it felt especially significant for the slumping Weeks. Whether it turns out to be a "slump-buster" or not, it's hard not to be happy for Weeks for producing in a big spot after failing in similar situations for most of the season.

What's Next

The Brewers host a four-game series against the evil baby-eating Cardinals, who come into town after winning two of three against the Cincinnati Reds. Considering the Cardinals are really good, splitting the series would be something of a small victory. The Brewers will have to face Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller, which sucks, but they will also get Aramis Ramirez back, which is awesome. Brewers fans can only hope that Mitchell Boggs will figure prominently into this series.

Probable starters
5/2 Westbrook vs. Peralta
5/3 Miller vs. Lohse
5/4 Wainwright vs. Gallardo
5/5 Garcia vs. Estrada

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