Monday, August 22, 2011

Lessons Learned In 2011

After the Brewers loss to the Dodgers on Thursday at the hands of Clayton Kershaw I got to thinking. This team is heading into the last month of regular season and is really showing what it can do without cornerstone second baseman Rickie Weeks. Roenicke has been able to do one thing so far, win ball games consistently. But, these outings against top quality pitching, not so nice to remember. The Brewers have thrived on offense, yet some ugly numbers jump out at you if you look at some key matchups this year.

When approaching this I decided I would use starts from the best pitcher(s) on teams we will likely see if we make the playoffs/WS. For my purposes I went with pitchers from the Phillies (Halladay, Lee), Braves (Jurrjens, Hanson, Hudson), Red Sox (Lester), Yankees (Sabathia), Giants (Lincecum, Cain), and the D-backs (Kennedy). The Brewers are 4-6 in 11 starts against top pitching talent from this pool. Opposing pitchers are holding hitters to 2.36 runs per start, a drop in production of almost 2 runs from their season average. The only no decision was in a Cliff Lee start against Narveson on April 20th which the Brewers ended up losing in the 8th on a Shane Victorino home run. So, this loss Thursday against Kershaw really didn't surprise me.
What is surprising is the plate discipline the team has shown when facing these elite pitchers. Almost every player on my list is at least making opposing pitchers sing for their supper. The lineup is striking out an average of 5.36 times per start, which given the talent pool of K hungry pitchers seems rather low. Only Sabathia managed to get double digit strike outs against the club. Patience will be vital if we face these pitchers again in Oct/Nov, especially the NL/AL East matchups.

Jurrjens just came back from injury and Hanson is currently down for the Braves, but their starting five may rival the Phillies with a superior bullpen. The Giants achillies heel will be their offense so no problems there, three pitchers threw shut outs against the Brewers, and none of them were by Giants starters. Arizona seems interesting with Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy tearing it up, but I just don't see that team going the distance. The Phillies and Braves still remain the best competition for the Crew in the NL, just like they were April 1st. Philadelphia is the only team from this list we play again in the regular season, so look for this late September matchup to be a good barometer of how the Brewers will fare in October.

Chemistry is something not shown as a stat in the box score, but when watching games pre and post ASB you can see a visible difference in how this team is playing. The Brewers own the 4th best record in baseball, and they have proven that they can win every way possible. The hits, walks, and drop off in strike outs are there, so a lot of it just comes down to timely hitting, and maybe a little luck. But, when you're on a roll like these boys in Milwaukee are sometimes that call goes your way, or a fielder takes the wrong angle, or Prince smashes one over the wall with the bases loaded.


No comments: