GOMEZ EXITS GAME WITH SHOULDER INJURY
Few things have gone right for the Brewers on the diamond this year, but one of the brightest spots of the 2013 season almost went up in smoke when Carlos Gomez awkwardly collided with the wall in the top of the fourth inning. His entire body seemingly jackknifed as fell to the ground. The 27-year-old center fielder immediately clutched his left shoulder and grimaced in extreme pain.
He didn’t writhe on the ground for long, nor did he wait for the training staff to reach him on the warning track. Instead, Gomez clutched his shoulder and walked directly to the dugout. No tests, no discussion. He was done.
Everyone, including Brewers players, thought Gomez re-injured his collarbone, which he broke during the 2011 season. It seems he and the team will dodge a bullet, though. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Gomez only sprained his left shoulder and may only miss a handful of games. In fact, he said after the game that he expects to be “fine” in a few days.
It’s truly fortunate news. After enjoying such an incredible breakout season, in which he’s hitting .314/.354/.572 with 12 home runs and 14 stolen bases, it would’ve been heartbreaking to see Gomez have his season cut short due to a freak injury. He’s already accumulated +4.2 WAR through only 291 plate appearances. It sounds like he’ll have a chance to build upon that elite pace after a few days off to rest his sore shoulder.
BREWERS WILLING TO TRADE GALLARDO?
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Baltimore Orioles have little chance to trade for Yovani Gallardo because they’re one of the teams on his no-trade list. Rosenthal says the Brewers would prefer to negotiate a trade without no-trade restrictions getting in the way.
While this rumor appears to be an afterthought in the flurry of hot stove news that will begin swirling in the coming weeks, it’s noteworthy that Gallardo and the Brewers are mentioned so nonchalantly in trade rumors by Rosenthal. It appears the Brewers are legitimately willing to listen on Gallardo this summer — something about which we’ve speculated upon the last couple months. Players such as Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have seen their trade value tumble due to injuries, and the right-hander may be the Brewers only opportunity to acquire true impact talent at the deadline.
Gallardo is potentially under team control through 2015. Such a team-friendly contract for a three-win pitcher is extremely valuable on the trade market, and although the contract situations aren’t identical, the Brewers could pursue a Mat Latos type deal this summer. The Padres acquired the Reds’ #3, #4 and #10 prospects (according to Baseball America) and also received Edinson Volquez.
Scale down the potential deal a bit because Latos is a cut above Gallardo on the starting pitcher totem pole, but the Latos deal does illustrate that the Brewers could potentially get a haul in return for their prized, young starter. While it wouldn’t be a popular move amongst the fan base, trading Gallardo may be one of the few ways to infuse the minor-league system with top-tier players, and the organization is thirsting for such impact talent.
LUCROY HEATING UP
Though most Brewers fans were busy griping about Rickie Weeks’ woeful start to the season, Jonathan Lucroy experienced his own significant struggles. On May 20, he was only hitting .208/.268/.328 and was starting to lose some playing time to Martin Maldonado, as Ron Roenicke tried to squeeze whatever production he could out of the catcher position.
Since that point, though, Lucroy has heated up at the plate and has scorched opposing pitching with a .371/.406/.619 slash line in his last 27 games. He has five doubles, two triples and five home runs in that stretch. He even stole a base. It’s been quite the turn-around for the Brewers’ catcher, who is once again on pace to be a three-win player this season. His .336 wOBA currently ranks seventh amongst qualified catchers, and he continues to be solid defensively behind the plate.
This is exactly the type of production the Brewers hoped to receive when they inked Lucroy to a five-year, $11M contract a year ago. He’s only making $800,000 this season and he’s a top-ten catcher in the league. That’s crazy valuable. And to think he is only scheduled to make $2M next year, the deal is one of the most team-friendly contracts in the National League.
GALLARDO: AN ALTERED APPROACH IN HOUSTON
Yovani Gallardo is one of the more predictable pitchers in baseball, at least in terms of location. He’ll mix up his fastball and slider early in counts and eventually try to get to his curveball, but he consistently works away from both right-handed and left-handed pitchers. He almost exclusively lives on the outside corner with every pitch.
Here is Gallardo against right-handed batters:
Here’s a similar heat map of Gallardo against lefties:
The patterning is quite similar. Away, away, away. Occasionally, he works up with the fastball against right-handed hitters or tries to bury a slider inside against lefties, but for the most part, he attempts to avoid damage by focusing on the outer portion of the plate.
Against the Houston Astros on Thursday, however, he significantly altered his approach. He still worked away from right-handed hitters, but he consistently tried to bust lefties on the inside corner the whole afternoon. Check out how different his heat map looked on Thursday compared to the seasonal charts featured above:
This isn’t likely a shift in repertoire or approach by Gallardo, but it’s extremely interesting to see how differently he pitched the Astros on Thursday. It worked rather effectively, too, as Gallardo only surrendered two hits to lefties and struck out three.
MINOR LEAGUE OUTFIELDER TEARING UP SINGLE-A
At only 19 years old, outfielder Tyrone Taylor was supposed to be a project for the Brewers’ development team. He was a young, toolsy athlete, and the Brewers hoped they could refine those athletic tools and transform him into a baseball player. Scouting reports out of the draft also suggested he had mechanical problems in his swing and limited power potential. Taylor turned some heads last year before succumbing to a shoulder injury, but it was still expected to be a significant challenge for him to get sent straight to the Midwest League this season.
The California native held his own throughout the beginning of the season. The Timber Rattlers didn’t play much in April due to weather, but Taylor still displayed signs of life at the plate. Since the middle of May, though, Taylor has been mashing the baseball. He’s been tremendous. He’s hitting .365/.438/.540 with 14 doubles and two home runs in his last 33 games. He’s walked as many times as he’s struck out, and he’s OPS-ing .997 as a 19-year-old in a difficult offensive environment. It has been an impressive season for the young man.
His torrid stretch at the plate has led some Brewers fans to start asking when he will be promoted to High-A Brevard County. It’s extremely unlikely that the organization will push him to High-A this summer. Taylor is already dealing with the aches and pains, as well as the mental stresses, of playing in his first year of full-season ball. It’s a huge transition for young players. Slapping the stresses of a mid-season promotion on top of that doesn’t seem prudent.
Expect the organization to allow Taylor to remain in Appleton the entire season, even if he continues to dominate the competition. He’s plenty young and already ahead of the developmental curve. No reason to rush his development. The organization will allow him to continue to get comfortable in his professional surroundings — prepping him for a big year in 2014.