Sunday, May 19, 2013

Series Recap: One is Better than None

At the end of the day there is not much to be said after a 2-8 road trip. However, until the end of the day is reached there is much to be hashed and rehashed. Like Bart Simpson desperately holding out hope Krusty will come to Camp Krusty and end his misery, the weekend series versus St. Louis left me with a faint sense that sunny days are coming soon. Granted, it also left me with a desire to throw a shoe at a wall, but not being a violent person I'll focus on the positives. Better yet, I'll write a few thoughts this series generated.

1) Wily Peralta needs to learn how to allow one less run against the Cardinals

On May 2 Peralta surrendered six two-out runs to the Cardinals in the third inning. The Brewers mounted a spirited comeback that came up just short as they lost 6-5. On Friday he allowed seven runs (five being scored with two outs), and once again the deficit was just a little too high as the Brewers fell 7-6.

Wily Peralta is not having a memorable season (5.94 ERA, 1.58 WHIP), but when you remove his starts versus St. Louis he's sporting a workable 4.65 ERA. He also has five quality starts in seven non-Cardinals games, which he can build off of. While his starts against St. Louis do, in fact, count, considering how the Cardinals own Brewers pitching it's okay to overlook them a bit. Peralta has the raw stuff to finish the season with an ERA in the 4.50 range, which I hope he starts working towards lest 5-win months for the Crew become a common occurrence for the rest of the season.

2) Timely hits help you win, rally-killing double plays do not

The lone shred of hope I have for the 2013 season is that many of the Brewers losses could have been wins had they seized their scoring opportunities. On the flip side, I'm going to go insane if they keep declining the chances they have. What happened in the 7th inning today illustrates both sides of that coin.

Trailing 4-2, the Brewers had the bases loaded with nobody out, spiking the win probability from 17.4% to 45.8%. I would argue with Segura and Braun coming up the Brewers had a better than 50% chance to win the game. Segura is currently leading the NL with a .364 batting average and Ryan Braun is Ryan Braun. You could make a compelling case that in this situation that Segura and Braun are the two players in all of the NL you would want up in that situation. So what happened? Segura popped out and Braun grounded into a double play. Sooner or later the Brewers will have a streak where they take advantage of these chances with consistency (in fact, no so long ago they did). There is just too much offensive talent for that not to happen.

Today's frustration aside, kudos to Jeff Bianchi for delivering in the 10th inning on Saturday night. If nothing else this demonstrated that the Brewers are theoretically capable of getting clutch hits. On the subject of Bianchi...

3) Rickie Weeks does not deserve to start for a while

Few things are more obvious than this fact. I do not fault Roenicke for starting him to this point because Weeks has a documented history of going on prolonged hot streaks. However, the man has an OPS well below .600 and has been poor defensively. He needs to be benched in favor of Jeff Bianchi for the simple reason that Bianchi cannot possibly be worse.

4) You know, the Brewers' bullpen is actually pretty good

I, for one, welcome the return of Thirty Pitches of Terror to the bullpen. To be overly charitable, K-Rod was very good last season when he was not awful. Consider these stretches:

April 13 - May 1: 8.2 IP, 9.35 ERA, .894 OPS against, 5 SO
May 4 - July 17: 30.1 IP, 2.37 ERA, .755 OPS against, 30 SO
July 18 - August 30: 14.1 IP, 10.05 ERA, .836 OPS against, 17 SO
September 2 - October 3: 15.0 IP, 1.20 ERA, .382 OPS against, 15 SO
Season: 72.0 IP, 4.38 ERA, .708 OPS against, 72 SO

Today he threw 8 pitches (all strikes) in recording a 1-2-3 7th. I think he'll be a good addition the pen, especially if every outing is identical to the one today. 

As for the rest of the bullpen, everyone besides Axford and Fiers have an ERA+ greater of 106 or greater. In this series they did not allow a single earned run, though Mike Gonzalez surrendered a hit that allowed two runs to score on Saturday. Even so, that was only one of six hits allowed by the bullpen during the series. If the Brewers can start getting leads they have a bullpen that should be able to hold them.

Looking ahead...

The Brewers have a chance to salvage the month of May with their upcoming 7-game homestand, which begins tomorrow versus Los Angeles. Scoring runs projects to be difficult as Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will pitch the first two games. If the Brewers will not be scoring runs, preventing them will be kind of important. Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos are tasked with this duty, respectively. The pitching deck is favored in favor of the Dodgers and the prognosis is not positive for the Crew, but the Brewers are going to have to string some wins together at some point. Why not starting tomorrow?

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