For those of you who don’t read ESPN’s MLB power rankings, each week they feature a short comment from each team’s SweetSpot writer (or in the case of those without a representative in the network, from the watchful eyes of our general bloggers at The Platoon Advantage). This week, I made the following comment:
Brewers starters had accumulated 3.7 Wins Above Replacement (according to FanGraphs) entering Sunday’s game. The 2009 squad compiled 1.6 Wins Above Replacement all season
The defining characteristic of the 2009 and 2010 Milwaukee Brewers was incompetent starting pitcher. Over the past two years, the only truly dependable pitcher on the Brewers staff has been Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers have suffered through mediocrity in the middle of the rotation and utter incompetence at the back end. Names like Braden Looper, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush (who performed admirably in 2008 and before, but really fell off in 2010), and Doug Davis are still the basis for nightmares in the greater Milwaukee area.
Even though this year’s staff hasn’t had fantastic results thus far — a 4.14 ERA in 230 innings — it is clearly markedly improved over the staffs of the last two years. Those two rotations combined to put up a ghastly 5.01 ERA in 1812 innings pitched and a similarly poor 4.78 FIP. The obvious superiority in the new front-end with Marcum and Greinke is even more apparent when we look at FIP, as this year’s unit has posted an excellent 3.58 mark to date. This team is nearly a full run per game better in the starting rotation than in year’s past. At this rate, it might not be too surprising if this year’s instance of the Brewers allow 120 fewer runs than last year, the kind of number that would be needed to propel this team into contention.
It doesn’t take a genius or advanced stats or anything like that to tell you that this year’s pitching staff is much better than those that Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites have endured in the past two years. But the numbers paint a striking picture, one that I believe shows that despite a rough start, the Brewers cannot be counted out yet. With the perennially strong offense finally boosted by a pitching staff, this team is capable another postseason run.