The Brewers completed their six-game, west coast road trip with a ho-hum 2-0 loss against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. I say ho-hum, of course, because the Brewers went into the ballgame with a guaranteed .500 roadtrip (always a good thing, especially out west), and they faced the best pitcher in the National League. I’d say arguably the best pitcher, but Kershaw’s 56-32, 836.3 IP, 874 K/289 BB/51 HR, 2.60 ERA (147 ERA+) performance from 2009-2012 makes the argument pretty simple.
Lohse’s Run Support: Someone ought to tell the Brewers batters that even though the front office surrendered a draft pick and seven figures for righty Kyle Lohse, they still need to score runs for the poor fellow. I know this might be one of those basic, “oh, it’s just 5 games” things with Lohse’s run support, but the Brewers bats have scored only 12 runs for the sinkerballer all season. In fact, the Brewers have scored one or fewer runs for Lohse THREE more times than they have scored more than a handful for the top free agent signing.
6.0 IP, 1 R
7.0 IP, 2 R
7.0 IP, 2 R
Those are the three starts in which the Brewers have not scored for Lohse; in fairness, they faced Kershaw, Wade Miley, and Shelby Miller in those starts. But, something’s got to give sooner or later. The Brewers cannot continue to waste Lohse’s fine starts.
Five Consecutive Quality Starts: Perhaps one of the frustrating aspects of the roadtrip was the close losses in San Diego and Los Angeles. The Brewers lost the series finale to the hardest throwing junkballer in the NL, Edinson Volquez, and they followed that game with a tough series opening loss to the Dodgers. However, the silver lining in those losses is the performance of the starting pitching; after Lohse’s 5 IP, 1 R outing at San Diego, the Brewers starters pitched five consecutive quality starts. You might scoff at the quality start stat, but the more quality starts the Brewers starters pitch, the more likely the Brewers offense will be able to stay in the game and put together a victory (such as Saturday night’s excellent late innings victory against the Dodgers).
46 Runs Scored in Last 10 Games: While the Brewers’ 9-game winning streak was marked by some excellent close game victories (including the streak-igniting, 4-3 victory at St. Louis), their bats kicked in lately, scoring bunches of runs pretty much every game except a Lohse start. In the last 10, the Brewers scored 6-or-more runs four times (4-0), 3-to-5 runs four times (3-1), and less-than-3-runs twice (0-2). Really, the 3-to-5 runs category is misleading; in each of those four games, the Brewers scored either 4 or 5 runs; the Brewers haven’t scored 3 runs since April 9.
Thus far, the Brewers are 6-4 when they score 3-to-5 runs, 6-1 when they score more than 6 runs, and 0-6 when they score less than 6 runs. At this pace, the Brewers are an 84-win ballclub.
Go-Go Gomez: Carlos Gomez didn’t draw a walk in his first 16 games of the season. No need to worry, though, as the toolsy centerfielder exploded on Pacific Time. During 24 plate appearances on the west-coast trip, Gomez walked 3 times, struck out 4 times, homered once, and hit 3 doubles. As if that wasn’t good enough, he added 5 singles, resulting in a .450/.542/.750 road trip.
Series Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates @ Milwaukee Brewers
What a week to face the Pirates! The Brewers are fresh off their west coast trip, while the Pirates are smoking hot. After the Dodgers swept the Pittsburgh Nine early in the season, the Pirates are 5-0-1 in their series, including impression four game series victories against Philadelphia and Atlanta (not to mention victories against the Cardinals and Reds). If it looks like a relief that the Brewers miss A.J. Burnett and Jeff Locke, the Pirates are probably saying the same thing about missing Wily Peralta and Kyle Lohse.
April 29: Wandy Rodriguez @ Yovani Gallardo
Rodriguez Last Five: 2-0, 4 G, 4 GS, 21.7 IP, 5 R, 2 QS
Gallardo Last Five: 2-1, 29 IP, 17 R, 2 QS
If you’re concerned about Gallardo’s fastball velocity, the Brewers’ franchise pitcher notably increased his average ticks on the radar gun during his last start. Of course, the same caveat should be held for that start as for his early season offerings: no one should judge a pitcher’s velocity simply based on one start (without corresponding mechanical or pitch selection analysis, especially). Anyway, Gallardo traditionally throws slower in April than other months, so perhaps we’re seeing the righty gearing up for his midsummer selections.
April 30: James McDonald @ Marco Estrada
McDonald Last Five: 2-2, 24.7 IP, 17 R, 2 QS
Estrada Last Five: 2-1, 30.3 IP, 14 R, 4 QS
McDonald’s first five games deserve some explanation. The righty has not pitched as poorly as his line suggests; he allowed nearly half of his runs during a 1.7 IP outing against the Cardinals. While McDonald is struggling with the walks, he is limiting the damage by keeping the ball in the park (this is probably due, in part, to starting 3/5 of his games at home thus far).
May 1: Jonathan Sanchez @ Hiram Burgos
Sanchez Last Five: 0-3, 4 G, 11.3 IP, 16 R
Burgos Last Five: 1-0, 2 G, 11 IP, 4 R
Burgos’s last two starts have been a tale of two pitchers. If you thought Burgos would draw on his strong junkball debut, you thought wrong. In his second outing, Burgos threw 57 fastballs — around 87 MPH — against 15 sliders, 14 curves, and 9 changes. A striking contrast from his 25 changes, 19 curves, 7 sliders, and 32 fastballs (with 8 cutters) approach in his debut. Perhaps this is the ultimate change up from a slow-throwing pitcher — if a club expects Burgos to lean more toward his off-speed pitches, and especially his change up, nothing could be more effective than locating his fastball for a majority of selections.
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. 2000-2013.
TexasLeaguers. Trip Somers, 2009-2013.