Where Do The Brewers Go From Here?

The Cubs won their 4th straight Tuesday night

The Cubs won their 4th straight Tuesday night

Been thinking about the train wreck that is the Milwaukee Brewers and how hopeless the future seems to be.

They lost again last night, falling to 4-17 on the season and are 10 games back (again) of the St. Louis Cardinals.

A friend of mine from New York was on a trip to Milwaukee for a pair of ballgames last weekend and recently quipped on Facebook “I have seen 25% of all Brewers wins this year.”

What’s truly disheartening is how they don’t have the ability to go anywhere and didn’t seem to have planned for it.

They came into the season by most pre-season picks as maybe the 3rd best team in the division (at best) but were picked by most as 4th or last. The number 2% came up quite a bit as their chance of making the playoffs.

But they don’t have pieces to move, so far as I can see. There’s no veteran talent that you could deal off in return for prospects. They seem to be built with this belief that they had everything they needed to win now.

I listen to Milwaukee sports radio some times and the things I heard during the off-season were borderline delusional.

As for their more immediate future, here are some rankings of the NL Central’s Minor League Organization Talent Ratings per Baseball America (BA) and Baseball Prospectus (BP).

Chicago Cubs 1 1
Pittsburgh Pirates 7 8
St. Louis Cardinals 16 13
Cincinnati Reds 17 15
Milwaukee Brewers 19 26

You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t think that the Cubs and Pirates are the future of the division. The Brewers are already well behind at the Major League level and don’t have anything coming down the pipeline. The time to rebuild is now, but how? What’s on that team that you can get value in return for?

* * *

The Chicago Cubs won their 4th straight, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates soundly at home, 6-2.

Travis Wood (W 2-1) went 7 innings, striking out 9 while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and no walks.

I was surprised to notice yesterday afternoon how many stolen bases the Cubs had in 2015, and last night they added five more and now lead the National League with 25 in total. They’ve been successful on 81% of their attempts, which is well above what most Sabermetric analysts will say is an acceptable rate.

Last night they had a pair of successful double steals, while Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo (!) each swiped their 6th of the year. On the bad side, they were caught stealing twice and picked off once. There was also plenty of taking extra bases on hits last night, so this is definitely an aggressive team.

Top play by Kris Bryant wasn’t even at bat (though he did have an RBI single). With the Bucs staging a rally and Corey Hart on 2nd, Starling Marte roped a single into left field. Junior Lake (with his first start of the year after a recent call-up) fielded the ball cleanly. Hart rounded 3rd and the 3rd base coach put up his hands to signal for Hart to hold. Hart had rounded too far, but not too far. Bryant took the cut off throw from Lake and immediately went on an all-out sprint towards Hart to try to tag him. Hart fairly casually jogged towards 3rd – he was only about 10 feet away and Bryant about 20 feet away. While the ump called Hart safe getting back to 3rd, the play was reviewed by Cubs manager Joe Maddon and video replay confirmed that Bryant tagged him just a beat before Hart’s left foot tapped the bag. Heads-up play by the rookie who, while he occasionally lets one go over the head of Rizzo at first, is still playing really smart baseball. It’s only two weeks, but he’s been the real deal.

Josh Harrison had a rough night for Pitt, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and error.

The Pirates get a good chance to avoid the sweep tonight with Gerrit Cole (3-0, 2.19) taken to the mound.

* * *

The Cardinals rebounded to torch the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-5, roughing up Severino Gonzalez in his first career start.

Michael Wacha improved to 4-0 with less than dominant stuff, going 5.2 IP and allowing 4 runs on 6 hits and a pair of walks, striking out 4.

Randy Choate, Mitch Harris, and Carlos Villaneuva combined for 3.1 innings out of the pen, allowing 1 unearned run.

It was all Matts, as Holliday (.383) and Adams (.267) had 3 hits each and Carpenter (.380) had a pair, including his 12th double of the season.

Mike Matheny shook things up with the lineup, with Carp hitting out of #2 spot in the lineup while Jason Heyward (.213) moved down to 6th. Jon Jay batted 1st. It was the first time this year that any of those 3 batted in that spot in the order. Given the results, let’s see if the Cards stick with that.

* * *

As mentioned previously, the Brewers were 4-2 losers to the Cincinnati Reds.

All 6 runs scored on homers. The Brew Crew got solo shots from Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez – it was the 2nd of the year for each. The Redlegs got a solo homer from Joey Votto (7th) in the 1st, then back-to-back homers with 2 outs in the 4th that put them ahead 4-0. The first was a 2-run tater for Brandon Phillips (1st) followed by a solo homer for Marlon Byrd (2nd). All 3 homers were surrendered by Kyle Lohse, whose ERA is 7.28 this year.

Johnny Cueto (W 2-2) went 8 innings with 6 strikeouts, allowing just 3 hits and no walks. Reds manager Bryan Price did the right thing coming off of Cueto’s last start, when he racked up 124 pitches. This time, at just 85 pitches but cruising along and holding a 2-run lead, Price moved to shutdown closer Aroldis Chapman to save both the game and Cueto’s arm.

Chapman struck out 2 in the 9th for his 5th save.

The game was completed in 2 hours and 11 minutes.

With Homer Bailey out for the year with an arm injury, the Reds called up Mike Lorenzen from AAA to join the rotation. He’ll get the start this afternoon with Mike Leake’s turn getting pushed back a day. Lorenzen, a 23-year old righthander who was a 1st round draft pick, had gone 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA at AAA Louisville this year.

Fangraphs’ scouting report gives Lorenzen some pretty high marks on his 99 mph fastball (a 60 with a 65 potential) and low-80s slider (50/60). Check out their scouting report on Lorenzen here. And here’s a scouting report from MLB Pipeline last fall.

The thought of putting Tony Cingrani back into the rotation with Bailey’s injury was shut down. After a month working out of the pen, he’d have to get stretched back out to work longer.

The Reds are .500 again, but are just 5-9 against teams not named the Brewers.

* * *


4-17 MILWAUKEE Garza, M (1-3, 5.16)
10-10 CINCINNATI Lorenzen (NR)
11:35 AM CT
11-10 PITTSBURGH Cole (3-0, 2.19)
12-7 CHICAGO Hendricks (0-0, 5.74)
7:05 PM CT
8-13 Philadelphia Harang (2-1, 1.37)
13-6 ST. LOUIS Martinez, C (2-0, 1.35)
7:15 PM CT

* * *


W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 13 6 W1
Chicago Cubs 12 7 1.0 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 10 3.0 L2
Cincinnati Reds 10 10 3.5 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 4 17 10.0 L2

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