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.
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
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.
|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.
|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.
Tonight, 6:40 pm MDT
|2009 - Chris Narveson||2-0||19||3||0||0||0||0||37.2||37||16||16||7||12||37||3.82||1.30|
|2009 - Jason Marquis||15-12||36||31||2||1||0||0||206.0||204||98||91||15||74||111||3.98||1.35|
Wednesday, September 30, 6:40 pm MDT
|2009 - Jeff Suppan||7-11||28||28||0||0||0||0||153.2||188||97||86||23||72||76||5.04||1.69|
|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
|2009 - Manny Parra||11-10||26||26||0||0||0||0||137.1||173||103||94||19||72||111||6.16||1.78|
|2009 - Aaron Cook||10-6||27||26||1||1||0||0||150.0||171||75||72||18||46||76||4.32||1.45|
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.
Mike 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.
RHP 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.