In a flurry of moves yesterday, the Brewers have made a number of changes to the major league roster.
The primary highlight of the moves was the return of 2B Scooter Gennett, who went 2-3 with two singles, a walk, and one strikeout in the 3-0 loss to James Shields and the Padres. But before the game had started, the Brewers had a tough roster call to make regarding the infield. Out of the three candidates to send down, the Crew opted to move INF Yadiel Rivera to AAA Colorado Springs.
|17||47||.196||.213||.474||0||7||1||0||.208||2.1% (1)||38.3% (18)||.321|
After a stellar Spring Training where he hit to the tune of a .292/.320/.924 slash, Rivera made the Opening Day roster as a backup to starters Jonathan Villar, Aaron Hill, and Scooter Gennett. Unfortunately, his offense did not transition instantly, as he went 5-for-29 (.172) with 12 strikeouts in the first 11 games of the season. In his last at-bats for the team (on Monday at MIA against Jose Fernandez), he nearly earned the second “Golden Sombrero” (4 K’s in one game) of the day for the Crew alongside fellow backup infielder Colin Walsh.
Although he struggled offensively to get going, Rivera is by no means a lost cause. Taking a step back from just Rivera himself, the decision to send him down can be seen as twofold strategy from the organizational standpoint. First off, Rivera was the only backup infielder who had options – as Hernan Perez would need to clear waivers, and Walsh would need to be offered back to the Athletics due to his Rule 5 status. It would have been extremely risky to attempt to sneak Perez through waivers, especially since he’s swinging a hot bat (.276/.344/.930 line with 3 HR and 3 SB in 32 AB’s). Secondly, the move also offers Rivera the chance to have consistent at-bats. With corner outfielder Wil Middlebrooks struggling, the Sky Sox could use Rivera to play 3B when he doesn’t slot in at 2B (where Nate Orf currently plays – hitting .270/.372/.750 in 37 AB’s).
|30||55||.098||.327||.449||0||4||2||0||.247||23.6% (13)||30.9% (17)||.167|
But even so, many have been clamoring for the release of INF Colin Walsh, and this move surely perplexed that section of the fan-base. But if we look at their numbers side-by-side, we still see one major piece of evidence that Rivera lacks – on-base percentage. Of course, getting on-base is not the only way to determine value of a hitter, let alone the sole reason for placing him above any other player. We see that Walsh still reaches base much more than Rivera has, even though his meager .098 batting average is atrocious in its’ own right. Walsh also strikes out at a much lower rate, even though he may be willing to see more pitches during an at-bat compared to Rivera. Not only that, but Walsh’s O-Swing% (16.5%) numbers are much better than Rivera’s 32.2% – meaning Rivera swings at more pitches outside the strike zone. Even though it’s a little unfair to compare the two due to their difference in plate appearances, it is still apparent that Walsh does have some offensive benefits by simply reaching base despite his meager batting average. The only question that remains is whether or not the team can hit him in once he gets on.
Just after the game, the Brewers also announced the acquisition of LHP Jhan Marinez from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. The move prompted the designation of LHP Michael Kirkman – who was first DFA’d by the Padres on May 2nd after just one outing where he gave up 4 runs in 1 1/3 IP. He appeared in uniform for the Brewers on May 9th – surrendering one run with a hit, strikeout, and a walk in a single inning of work.
|2014 (AA-AAA) (LAD & DET)||33||40.1||6.69||1.84||10.3||7.1||1.44|
|2015 (AA-AAA) (TB)||50||67.1||2.27||1.13||9.5||3.6||2.63|
|2016 (MLB)||3||3.2||2.45||0.545||3 K’s||O BB’s||—|
Signing as a non-drafted free agent to the Marlins, the left-handed reliever began his career at the age of 17. After bouncing around their minor league system for 5 years, he was dealt to the White Sox. He ended up making stops in the Tigers’ and the Dodgers’ organizations before signing with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014. By that time, he had already cracked through to the majors with the Marlins in 2010 and the White Sox in 2012, and was used primarily as a hard-throwing, late-inning reliever. He features a two-seam and four-seam fastball that both sit around 95 mph with a mid-80’s slider and upper 80’s curve-ball that he seldom throws. The biggest issue for him over the years has been in his command – as shown in his high walk-rate (2.9 BB/9 considered average).
It’s unclear as to how effective he will be, especially since he has such a small track record in the majors. He will be taking over a spot that has been plagued with inconsistency thus far this year. After Will Smith’s injury, left-handed pitchers Sean Nolin, Franklin Morales, Sam Freeman, and Michael Kirkman along with righty Ariel Pena have all attempted to lock down the final bullpen spot to no avail. Hopefully Marinez can offer some sort of stability until other arms can return from injury – especially Will Smith, who will throw off the mound today after being cleared to do so yesterday.
Note: Photo credited to Cliff Welch of Icon Sportswire. Statistics taken from Fangraphs.com.