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The fizz has left the brew, but it can still kick your butt

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At the end of May, the Milwaukee Brewers were 30-20 and leading the NL Central. The Rockies' sweep in early June in Milwaukee (by a total of four runs) started the Brewers' slow down-turn away from contention. They haven't managed a winning month since May, and they currently sit below .500 both at home and on the road.

Their offense is fine - it's their pitching that has killed them. Only the Nationals have allowed more runs to score in the National League. That's not a recipe to return to the post-season.

Interestingly, they have only lost one of their past five series, defeating Arizona and Houston, splitting with Philadelphia and Chicago and losing a series to the Cubs. Despite their struggles this season, they respresent a formidable spoiler, especially if they get a random strong start from a starter.

The Rockies certainly are familiar with Milwaukee acting as a late season spoiler to an NL West team. Let's just hope the trend sticks with Trevor Hoffman blowing saves rather than karma evening out. Chat at Brew Crew Ball with cheeseheads.

Scoreboard Watch

Atlanta (2.0 GB):

vs Florida: Josh Johnson (15-5) vs Tim Hudson (2-1). Ricky Nolasco (12-9) vs. Javier Vazquez (15-9)

vs. Washington: Garrett Mock (3-10) vs. Tommy Hanson (11-4).

San Francisco (5 GB): Goodbye.

Florida (5.5 GB): Goodbye


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Milwaukee Brewers (77-79, L1, 3rd, 13 GB)

Tuesday-Thursday : 3-game series at Coors Field

The Bats: B

Milwaukee's lineup has been quite stable this season, especially once adding Felipe Lopez. Rookie Alcides Escobar has been taking ABs from JJ Hardy, and Casey McGehee has taken over as the full time third baseman. The other five have been starters all year. The lineup exceptionally strong, coming in 3rd in the NL in both SLG and wOBA, 4th in OBP. Their average is 6th best, a pinch better than Colorado, but they strike out more than any team who plays Spring Training outside of Tucson. Milwaukee has also scored the fourth most runs in the National League this season.

LINEUP Avg HR RBI OBP SLG wOBA OPS+
Felipe Lopez - 2B .310 9 55 .381 .431 .356 111
Corey Hart - RF .260 12 48 .335 .419 .331 98
Ryan Braun - LF .316 30 107 .383 .540 .399 141
Prince Fielder - 1B .297 43 137 .406 .596 .415 161
Casey McGehee - 3B .304 15 64 .364 .503 .369 126
Mike Cameron - CF .249 23 68 .342 .451 .344 107
Alcides Escobar - SS .301 1 11 .324 .379 .307 85
Jason Kendall - C .240 1 34 .331 .296 .287 67

The Brew's lineup is somewhat similar to St. Louis' in that there are two truly elite hitters in the middle of the lineup (Fielder and Braun). Unlike St. Louis, it's not just The Big Two and the Averages. There are other above average hitters, including Lopez (who has been even better with Milwaukee than Arizona), McGehee and Cameron. Corey Hart is about league average, rookie Alcides Escobar is holding his own above replacement level, but Jason Kendall could be replaced offensively with Sal Fasano at no loss whatsoever.

The bench currently constitutes the sitting place for infielders JJ Hardy (.229, 11, 47), Craig Counsell (.280, 4, 37) and Mat Gamel (.236, 5, 19). Four outfielders tend to hang out in the dugout most of the game as well, including Frank Catalanotto (.278, 1, 9), Jason Bourgeois (.200, 1, 3), Corey Patterson (1-for-10) and Jody Gerut (.241, 5, 20). Milwaukee is the first team the Rockies have seen since rosters expanded to carry just one backup catcher: Mike Rivera (.227, 2, 14). Bill Hall was traded to Seattle for a minor league pitcher last week. That leaves a bench void of a real threat.

Follow the jump for scouting reports on the Brewers' arms, defense, as well as the pitching matchups, injuries and hot/cold players.

The Arms: F

Milwaukee has had only one full-time starting pitcher (Yovani Gallardo) manage to keep his ERA below 5.00, and he has been shut down for the season. That's an eye-opening statistic, especially given their very offensive neutral home ballpark. In fact, it is so bad that they rank as Fangraphs' worst MLB rotation and second worst pitching staff. Manny Corpas accrued more WAR this season than their third best starter, and even Gallardo's season would place him fifth on the Rockies roster. How many more ways can I say suck?

At least Trevor Hoffman has been solid. The veteran has posted three consecutive months with an ERA under 2.00, this in a season where he didn't allow his first run until June 14.

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Trevor Hoffman 2-2 52 0 0 0 36 3 51.0 34 10 10 2 11 46 1.76 0.88

The right-handed relievers include John Axford (3.2 IP, 2.45 ERA), Mike Burns (73 ERA+), Todd Coffey (143), Seth McClung (83), Chris Smith (137), Claudio Vargas (102), Carlos Villanueva (80) and David Weathers (100). Mitch Stetter (114) is the only lefty in the pantry, but he's a good one. Yovani Gallardo is technically active, but he has been shut down for the season.


The D: C

The Brewers 92 errors are very middle-of-the-pack, and their UZR/150 is just a pinch better than average at 1.1. Their Fangraphs value is 10th in MLB, but their stress on offense in the latter part of the season hurts their defense. McGehee is a big defensive downgrade on Bill Hall, as is Escobar on JJ Hardy. Braun and Hart are both defensive liabilities, though the outfield is somewhat balanced by a flashy and effective Mike Cameron. Believe it or not, Prince Fielder managed to be an average defensive first baseman, and Felipe Lopez is solid.


Probable Pitchers:

Tonight, 6:40 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Chris Narveson 2-0 19 3 0 0 0 0 37.2 37 16 16 7 12 37 3.82 1.30
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Marquis 15-12 36 31 2 1 0 0 206.0 204 98 91 15 74 111 3.98 1.35
Hardcore Rockies' fans know the name Chris Narveson. He was acquired from St. Louis as part of the Larry Walker trade, essentially also meaning he played a part in bringing Dexter Fowler to Colorado. The Colorado native was a second round pick by the Cards in 2000, but his homecoming was short. He didn't throw a single pitch in the minors for the Rockies before being traded with Charles Johnson for Byung-Hyun Kim in March 2005. Brew Crew Ball featured him two weeks ago. The 27-year-old lefty has pretty average stuff but has managed to allow just 4 runs in his three starts this season, so he's more formidable than, say, Pat Misch. He'll be a bit like Edward Mujica though, given he has been in the bullpen most of the year and hasn't stretched out past 5.0 innings or 86 pitchers. Marquis, if you want to start another playoff game in your career, you better win this game. Continued suckitude could result in his September benching in following years even if he's pitching well. Get it done, Jason. Favors: ROCKIES moderately


Wednesday, September 30, 6:40 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jeff Suppan 7-11 28 28 0 0 0 0 153.2 188 97 86 23 72 76 5.04 1.69
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Jason Hammel 9-8 32 29 1 0 0 0 169.2 194 90 81 15 41 123 4.30 1.39

Jeff Suppan has been a giant disappointment for Milwaukee. Then again, that's what you get for putting so much stock in a couple playoff starts in deciding value for contract. His biggest issue with that abominable K/BB rate, his worst in 13 seasons. He also serves up plenty of home runs, only has one positive pitch (change-up) and he has the second-worst fastball of any NL pitcher with over 100 IP. He served up 12 hits and 7 ER in his last start. FIP and tRA suggest he has been very lucky this season to have an ERA as low as 5.04. We should crush this guy. Jason Hammel is quietly second on the Rockies in WAR among starters, and he has either pitched 6.0+ IP or allowed 3 or less runs in 10 of 11 starts. The Rockies lost his last start, only the second HomeHammel start Colorado has lost since May 14, and we all know this last one wasn't his fault. Favors: ROCKIES moderately


Thursday, October 1, 1:10 pm MDT

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Manny Parra 11-10 26 26 0 0 0 0 137.1 173 103 94 19 72 111 6.16 1.78
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Aaron Cook 10-6 27 26 1 1 0 0 150.0 171 75 72 18 46 76 4.32 1.45
Remember when I said Jeff Suppan had the NL's 2nd worst fastball according to Fangraphs? Well, Manny Parra has the worst, even though it comes in the low 90's from the left side. He returns for his second start after being sidelined with a neck injury - in his first, he held Philly to 1 run on 4 hits in 7 IP. In terms of the broad spectrum, he has slightly better peripherals than Suppan, and FIP and tRA suggest he's better than his ERA states. In addition, he's left-handed. Cue the thunder. Aaron Cook was fantastic in his last start Friday. This will be his last chance to prove he should be in the Rockies' playoff rotation, so let's see that sinker sink. Favors: ROCKIES moderately

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Prince Fielder has at least one RBI in 7 of 9 games and has 7 dingers this month. Casey McGahee has four himself, part of 24 September RBIs. Ryan Braun and Felipe Lopez have hit over .300 this month, with Jody Gerut a hit away from the threshold. Trevor Hoffman has pitched seven consecutive scoreless appearances, allowing only one baserunner in that span. He accrued six saves and a win in those seven outings.

IceMike Cameron is just 15-for-his-last-77, while Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell and JJ Hardy hover around the Mendoza line in the season's final month.



Bandaid_mediumRHP David Riske missed the entire season with an elbow injury. RHP Mark DiFelice (shoulder - 9/14) and 2B Rickie Weeks (wrist - 5/18) are also on the 60-day disabled list.