The Brewers managed to take two games from the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend and won the first of three big series to begin the second half. The team is still well out of contention, but win one more series this week and it seems even more likely that Mark Attanasio and the Brewers will err on the side of caution (and money) and not sell.
Here are some other thoughts from this morning.
Against the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend, Brewers starting pitchers struck out an astounding 31 batters in 17.2 innings, highlighted by a brilliant, fourteen-strikeout performance by Yovani Gallardo on Sunday afternoon to lock down the series win.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that high-strikeout performances by the Brewers are not uncommon at all this year. The Brewers’ starting rotation has the highest strikeout rate of any starting rotation in baseball.
The fact that Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada have stepped into the rotation and shown a legitimate ability to miss bats has made the rotation one of the better groups in the National League — and that’s lately been without Shaun Marcum, who has an 11.0% swinging strike rate this season.
Take solace in the fact that the Brewers’ starting rotation may not be as barren in 2013 as originally thought. Greinke, Marcum, and Wolf may no longer anchor the rotation, but the newcomers will pair with Gallardo and Chris Narveson (if he returns healthy) to field a competitive group. The key will be the fifth starter, which currently projects to be Tyler Thornburg, though myriads can change in between July 16, 2012 and Opening Day of 2013.
MALDONADO, HIGH BALL HITTER
Rookie Martin Maldonado has been a revelation behind the plate this season, stepping in for Jonathan Lucroy and numbing the pain of the loss. He has played above-average defense behind the plate — something that will only improve as he works with major-league pitchers more consistently — and shown ability at the plate.
We can see that Maldonado really likes the baseball up and in:
He is 9-for-15 on balls he has put in play in the dark-red portion up in the zone. His power zone is more in the center of the plate, but his ability take the ball to the center of the diamond has become more recognizable in recent games.
It’s crazy to think Maldonado has already been a one-win player in only 40 games this year, especially considering the fact that he did not play his first game until May 29 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has accumulated one win in just over one month.
When Lucroy comes back from his injury — which could be as soon as next week — Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke will have a really difficult time sending Maldonado back to the minor leagues. He has certainly shown that he is a major-league caliber catcher.
RYAN BRAUN IS A PROFESSIONAL HITTER
Where do you pitch Ryan Braun and find consistent success? The easy answer is nowhere. Maybe … maybe … the lower outside corner if you don’t want him to hit for power.
Of course, he is still hitting .348 on pitches in the low-outside quadrant of the strike zone.
So the real answer is nowhere.