I am stunned. I did not expect the Brewers to be so good this season. Even without Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, they took two of three from the Yankees. They may have cooled down from their amazing April, but the Brewers are for real.
Keep in mind that I saw them in Spring Training. True, it was only four games, and they lost them all. They didn’t look great like they did in 2008 or 2011. Still, as I wrote in March, the Brewers had a air confidence about them. They looked ready to go out there and get to work.
Amazingly, they brought that attitude to the regular season.
I’ll admit it, though. I was an early naysayer. I thought Doug Melvin made some questionable moves in the offseason, and swung and missed by bringing in Mark Reynolds at first.
Back in January, I tweeted my angst, actually. I wondered if the 2014 Brewers would be an improvement from the 2013 squad. That skepticism led to a long and detailed email from Joe Robinson, a senior account executive in ticket sales with the Brewers.
With his permission, I’m reprinting that email from Jan. 10. I have to say, Joe was right on:
I’m optimistic by nature, but I honestly am excited about this year. Working for the Brewers, you probably think I have to say this, but I really don’t. There are plenty of co-workers here that feel the same way you do. Let me tell you why I’m excited!!
Regardless of who plays 1B, with Braun and Ramirez back in the middle of the lineup, scoring runs won’t be a problem. It’s all going to come down to pitching like it always does and I really like our pitching. Keep in mind, last year when Gallardo and Estrada pitched for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, they threw a ton of pitches in February. They both looked to me to have completely dead arms in May (when we went 6-22). Once they went on the DL with their hamstring injuries, they came back lights out (which is how they both pitched for most of 2012). Kyle Lohse never even had a spring training last year. He signed three days before Opening Day. His April/May was virtually his spring training. Again, this coincides with our 6-22 May. Then losing Braun (wrist) and Ramirez (knee) for much of the first half killed us. Obviously the suspension of Braun was a black eye, but it was a good time for it to happen, during a season where we were already out of it.
Here’s a few things to be excited about:
- In the six seasons (not counting last year because he didn’t really play much) with Ryan Braun, the Brewers have made the playoffs twice (2008, 2011), finished two games out of the playoffs once (2007) and were 1.5 games out of the playoffs with seven games left another time (2012). He is an elite talent and makes everyone else in the lineup better. Lost in the whole suspension/PED thing I think people forget how good he is.
- Carlos Gomez (24 HR/40 SB) became the first player in franchise history to produce 20+ HR and 40+ SB in a season and was the only player in MLB to do so in 2013.
- Carlos Gomez was the fifth player in MLB History to have 20+ doubles, 10+ triples, 20+ HR & 40+ SB in a season. (Jimmy Rollins-2007, Brady Anderson-1992, Bobby Bonds-1970, Lou Brock-1967).
- After being called up on 7/23, Khris Davis led the Brewers in HR and RBI and led ALL of MLB with a .639 SLG%. (Hanley Ramirez-.599, Miguel Cabrera-.565, A. McCutchen-.561)
- Khris Davis was 3rd in MLB with an OPS of 1.004 tailing only Mike Trout and Jayson Werth.
- Jean Segura was among the NL leaders in stolen bases (2nd, 44), triples (2nd, 10) and hits (8th, 173).
- Since 8/5, Scooter Gennett led the NL with a .358 batting average.
- Aramis Ramirez hit .338 with 3 HR in September when he finally was healed from the knee injury.
- Brewers starting pitchers went 28-24 with a 3.31 ERA over the final 81 games. That ERA was 4th best in Major League Baseball during that time.
- The Brewers had the most shutouts (15) in MLB since 6/15.
- Kyle Lohse went 10-4 with a 2.91 ERA over his last 22 starts (including 16 quality starts) and threw two complete games in September.
- Over his final 17 starts, Wily Peralta was 7-7 with a 3.05 ERA.
- After the All-Star Break, Marco Estrada was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA and 56 strikeouts to just 11 walks.
- In 44 starts since 2012, Marco Estrada has an ERA of 3.29.
- Rookie Tyler Thornburg went 2-1 with a 1.47 ERA in seven MLB starts.
- The Brewers bullpen ERA of 3.19 was the 3rd best in the NL (fifth best in MLB).
- The Brewers were 45-16 in games in which Jim Henderson pitched (2-2, 2.70 ERA, 28 saves).
- The Brewers were 63-1 when leading after eight innings in 2013.
I’m really intrigued by the young left handed pitcher acquired from the Royals for Aoki. If he doesn’t earn a spot in the rotation, he could be a huge part of the bullpen as a guy that can go multiple innings. He has outstanding stuff and really came into his own during the Royals playoff chase during the second half of last year.
Will Smith, 24, was 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA over 19 games with the Royals in 2013. Since June 1st, Will Smith allowed just eight runs in 29 1/3 innings (2.45 ERA), while striking out 38 and walking only six for the Royals.
Here is what Ned Yost said about Will Smith during the second half of their season last year:
"The thing that was impressive to me was the first time we brought him up to the big leagues he was 22 years old. But he’s so poised and polished that you forget he’s 22 years old. You think he’s 28 or 29 or 30. He’s a tremendous competitor. He has tremendous upside."
This season, the Royals converted Smith to the bullpen in June and, oh my. The light switch went on.
"He's just been phenomenal out there," manager Ned Yost said. "A big boost for us."
Smith is 2-0 with a dazzling 1.78 ERA out of the 'pen. He has struck out 33 hitters in 25 1/3 innings.
Some of his outings have been virtually breathtaking. In late June, he threw five shutout innings against Minnesota, striking out six and not walking a hitter.
I also like the depth of our young pitchers. I assume our rotation will be: Gallardo, Lohse, Peralta, Estrada and Thornburg. However, Nelson, Hellweg, Smith, Burgos, Jungmann, etc. give us more young pitchers than we’ve ever had in our system, which is exciting!!
What does all this mean? I don’t know. Maybe we only win 75 games again, but I’m very optimistic if we stay healthy this time around, that this team will be in contention in September. I don’t know if that means playoffs or not, but I think all most people can ask for around here is to be in it in September.
The Brewers have consistently been slow starters in years when they don't make the playoffs. Early winning w/o key players and with Garza pitching like cr@p, is a great sign. If Garza gets his head right and we get player back from DL we could really make a run this year. Exciting! Go Brewers!
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Oct. 13, 2016
Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall will visit The Pabst Theater on Oct. 16, and at 81, the legendary trumpet player still looks forward to pleasing his audience and leaving them smiling. His career spans five decades and he's still going. We caught up with him prior to his show.
Published Oct. 13, 2016
Halfway through the bass-thumping, sweaty hot mess that was the Die Antwoord show at The Rave in the Eagles Club ballroom Wednesday night, I shouted, my words barely audible over the screaming Afrikaans rap, "How the hell am I going to write this review?"
Published Sept. 18, 2016
Typically, my annual early reviews of the Apple's new flagship phone are called "24 hours with the new iPhone." That tight time frame wasn't possible this year, because the new iPhone 7 took more than a day and a half just to update all my apps, photos, videos and iCloud data. I only started to really see it work as promised by Saturday night.
Published Sept. 16, 2016
When Katrina Cravy signs off from FOX 6 on Oct. 12, it will mark the end of a 20-year chapter in her life, but another one is about to open. While the 46-year-old anchor, reporter and host has been a fixture at her station for almost 18 years, she's preparing to embark on a career at a media relations consultant, speaker and author.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
On Thursday, Rahny Taylor returns to Milwaukee radio as morning host at 97.3 NOW, replacing the syndicated "Elvis Duran Show." It's been a secret Taylor's been keeping for a while. Unlike his last gig in town with Wes McKane and Ally Faith, he's doing this one solo.
Published Sept. 2, 2016
In 2004, Tim Schneider opened The Shop in Bay View's Hide House. Fast forward to 2016, and the motorcycle repair/customization shop - that only works on Japanese and European bikes - averages a 6-8 week waiting list, and their phone rings off the hook. It was time to move.
Published Aug. 31, 2016
Former Brewers pitchers Dave Bush and Seth McClung spent a lot of time standing for the national anthem during their careers. Like their teammates, rising was expected of them before every game, so when Colin Kaepernick made a statement by refusing to stand before an exhibition game last week, ex-players took note.
Published Aug. 29, 2016
Today, Verizon data speeds got faster. Verizon just rolled out its LTE Advanced technology to bring 50% faster peak wireless data speeds to more than 288 million people in 461 cities, including Milwaukee.
Published Aug. 22, 2016
I've said it for years. Door County means different things to different people. Whether your idea of this magical peninsula is nature or adventure, shopping or relaxing, friends or family - or a mix of everything above, one storyline arcs above all the rest: Door County is what you make it.
Published Aug. 19, 2016
My friend Drew Olson has a new work address. The veteran Milwaukee sports journalist / broadcaster - and former OnMilwaukee.com senior editor - ended an 11-year run as a talk-show host at ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM) last week and will begin a new chapter with The Big 920 (WOKY) on Monday.