Garza Instrumental to Brewers’ Success Moving Forward by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
Has Matt Garza finally figured it all out?
The big offseason acquisition for the Brewers has had his struggles so far in 2014, searching to iron out his mechanics and become the dominant starter that the team shelled out big bucks for. Statistically speaking, Garza is having the worst season of his career since he was a rookie with the Minnesota Twins in 2006. But Garza shut down those very Twins on Monday night, pitching six and one-third scoreless innings against the team that drafted him, and lowering his season ERA to 4.42.
The Brewers signed Garza last offseason to a four-year $50 million contract, in the hopes of bolstering their starting rotation to the point of true contender status in the NL Central. And so far the pitching staff has been a major strength on this club, though Garza has the highest starter’s ERA on the team. The problem for Garza has typically been trouble with his command early on, leading to a problem inning or two that run his pitch count up and balloon his ERA along with it.
But Garza’s start Monday against the Twins was indicative of a pitcher who has started to find his groove on the mound.
“I felt great,” Garza said after his first scoreless outing of the season. “My mechanics are right where I want them to be.”
Garza had all of his pitches working on Monday. He was able to keep Twins hitters guessing by mixing in his slider and curveball for strikes, and kept his pitches down in the strike zone. If he continues with an increased level of effectiveness over the grueling summer months to come, it’s big time trouble for the rest of the NL Central.
Three of the five Brewer starting pitchers are already pitching highly effectively, and Marco Estrada has been more than serviceable as a fifth starter. If Garza is finding his stride, that’s four front end starters that the Brewers are trotting out on a regular basis. Combine that with a bullpen that continues to shatter expectations (Will Smith- wow) and the Brewer pitching staff is a formidable one at the top of the NL Central.
I dont know how they keep winning.. Overbay in the cleanup spot one day, Gennent in the three hole..An MVP spending time on the disabled list. The cleanup hitter headed for a DL stint. Players asked to play out of position. Bench players asked to play every day roles..Triple A callups asked to play major roles..Just examples of hurdles the Brewers have been able to overcome thus far.
Still the Brewers keep winning and remain one of the top teams in MLB.The ongoing adjustable lineup keeps putting up enough offense so the starting pitching can carry the way. How much longer can the starters keep grinding out quality start,one after another?.. The pitching has bailed out the inept offense one game after another. I don't know how they keep winning. No one in the division right now seems to be able to make their move while the Brewers stay double digits over the 500 mark. How long will this last?
With the Brewers off to a 22-11 start in 2014, not a whole lot has been made of Ryan Braun’s nagging injuries and his subsequent absence from the lineup. But with the recent struggles the offense has had since their biggest slugger was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain, it’s time to take a closer look.
Ryan Braun will have missed 16 games this season once he is eligible to return from the DL on May 12. That means he will miss a minimum of 16 games through the first two months of the season, and even more if he isn’t healthy enough to play in the 18 remaining games for the Brewers this month.
Historically, Braun has missed his share of games with nagging injuries, especially trouble with his thumb. But in his six full seasons in Milwaukee, Braun has missed 12 games total in the first two months of a season. That means in 2014 he will miss at least four more games than he has missed in his whole career in April and May. That’s troubling.
Braun said in a statement following the announcement of his season-ending suspension last year:
“During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.”
If Braun was indeed using a banned substance to battle injury, it’s certainly possible that he used it for some time prior to 2011, evading repercussions from MLB. Now that he has received a suspension for his “cream and a lozenge” usage, those medications are no longer available to him (unless he plans on being suspended for 100 games.)
The Brewers need Braun in their lineup. In the 22 games he has appeared in this season, the team is scoring 4.1 runs per game. In the eight games he has missed since April 27 (coming into last night versus Arizona), they are scoring just 2.9 runs per game. A big part of the offensive lull has to do with the struggles of Aramis Ramirez lately, but Braun’s absence in the lineup is more than slightly problematic.
The biggest concern with his injuries is that they are wide-ranging. We’re a little over a month into the season, and Braun has already been dealing with an oblique strain, an intercostal strain, and a sore thumb. It’s not as if there’s one specific injury to treat and heal. He has been nicked up in a variety of ways already. Perhaps I’m wrong, but given his time missed already, it doesn’t seem that Braun is going to be the picture of good health any time this season.
Just how many games he will miss is going to be the key. The Brewers can deal with Braun missing 25 to 30 games this year if it means he is healthy for the stretch run, as long as the pitching holds up. But anything more than that, and we’re entering the danger zone.
I will admit, that Iam waiting for a funk to set in-even a little one. The Brewers have battled thru injuries, a tired out bullpen,an offense that has yet to get cooking and a make shift lineup at times to maintain the best record in baseball. Are they the best? That remains to be seen.I don't think they are as dominant as a 20-7 April but do think they will be involved in the pennant race for the entire season. Im hoping they bounce back this weekend in Cincinnati after lopsided losses in the last two games.. They are due for slide like most teams. Just hope nothing horrible that would wipe out all the good work they have done.
Carlos Gomez: Hot-Headed or High-Intensity? by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
Gold Glove Center Fielder Sparks Debate with Brawl in Pittsburgh
We’re three weeks into the season, and the Milwaukee Brewers sit atop the NL Central at an MLB-best 15-5. Everything is peachy in Brewer Nation. Well, almost everything.
Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, Carlos Gomez hit a long fly ball to deep center field, and proceeded to trot towards first and watch the ball fly until it hit the fence. Gomez then picked up the pace around first base and ended up diving into third base safely with a triple. Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole, who gave up the triple, came over barking words not suitable for this blog at Gomez, who promptly hopped up and started verbally retaliating. Gomez was quickly separated from Cole by players and the umpiring crew, and the situation seemed to be under control, even as both benches were emptying. But when Travis Snider came in and said something to Gomez, things got ugly fast.
Gomez took the first swing of the brawl, getting a piece of Snider, who then tackled Gomez and had to be pulled away by Rickie Weeks. Martin Maldonado came flying in and landed a clean punch on Snider as well before the heated players on both sides were finally restrained and cooler heads prevailed.
This wasn’t the first time Gomez got in trouble for admiring a fly ball, though he claims that he thought his triple Sunday was just a hard fly out. Gomez was suspended for one game last September after benches cleared between the Brewers and Braves. He admired a homer off of Braves starter Paul Maholm, and was met by catcher Brian McCann ten feet in front of home plate before the benches cleared and punches were thrown.
All of this history with Gomez begs the question: Is he out of control, or just a passionate player?
I tend to side with the latter. In both incidents, Gomez was technically the “instigator” by watching his fly balls for too long. But both times, a member of the opposing team reacted inappropriately as well. Brian McCann shouldn’t have met Gomez halfway up the baseline during his home run trot, and Gerrit Cole was out of line with the profane language he used toward Gomez.
Gomez plays the game of baseball with a lot of flair. That’s part of who he is as a player. He plays hard, he (almost) always hustles, and he puts on a show. He brings a Richard Sherman-like intensity to the park every night, and as a result, he gets a bit testy when rudely confronted by an opposing player. I’m guessing he also isn’t the only player that takes exception to being sworn at.
I don’t have a problem with the way Gomez plays. At all. Fans come to games to be entertained, and Carlos Gomez arguably does that better than any other player in the league. He was in the wrong to turn the altercation physical by throwing the first punch, and he will justifiably be suspended for his role in this most recent skirmish. But if I’m Ron Roenicke, I’m not telling Gomez to change his approach to the game one bit.
Opposing fans will hate on him, and he will continue to play the game with a higher level of intensity than anyone else on the club. And as long as he keeps contributing to Brewer victories, nobody can fault him for it.
~~Success Versus Cardinals Necessary by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
The Brewers are off to an incredible start to the 2014 season. With a nine-game winning streak already in the books, the Crew owns the best record in the MLB at 10-3. Things have been clicking on all cylinders in Milwaukee, but there still remains a thorn in the sides of players and fans alike: The St. Louis Cardinals.
Monday night the Cardinals rolled into town and robbed everyone in the city of Milwaukee of free burgers, snapping the Brewer winning streak just one game shy of double digits. The loss dropped the Brewers’ record against the Cardinals to 11-24, dating back to the start of the 2012 season.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from time to hit the panic button. April has been much kinder so far than I had ever anticipated (minus the weather) for Milwaukee, and I’ll take the best record in the MLB at any juncture of the season, obviously. For fans freaking out about losing to the Cardinals, let’s remember that this squad from St. Louis was slated by almost every pundit to win the NL Central in the preseason. They’re good. Really good. The loss was amplified by the fact that it busted a huge winning streak, but no one could have realistically expected the Crew to sweep the Redbirds.
Now, that doesn’t excuse the Brewers from ever beating the Cardinals. Quite the opposite. For this team to contend in the Central this year, they need to be competitive with the Cards. At least close to .500 ball against them. Back in 2011, when the Brewers won a franchise record 96 regular season games, they played the Cardinals even at 9-9. But that was against a weaker division than the NL Central this year (the Astros were still in the NL in 2011, that’s all you need to know). Wins against division opponents will be at a premium this season (minus the Cubs) so the Brewers cannot afford to be handled by the Cardinals if they want to contend for the postseason.
The Crew has two games left in this set against their rivals from Missouri, and if they fail to win either, the Brewer fan base will go catatonic. The team can absorb this kind of result, but players and fans alike feel it’s high time to make a statement. Jonathan Lucroy said on the Bill Michaels show this morning “I feel like we’re better than (the Cardinals) are.” Let’s see the Crew prove it.
For Brewer updates and live tweets from Miller Park, follow Andrew on Twitter @ADBinMKE
(Dallas ) Whether or not Josh Gasser should have hedged up further into Kentucky's Aaron Harrison's face on
Saturday Night will be long debated. On one hand.Harrison has hit from there before with the game on the line, but then if Gasser gets up further, he risks Harrison's blowing by with his quicks and finding a way to tie a game. No blame, sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say Harrison made a big time play.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will know that I consdered the Badger loss on Saturday night to be one of the toughest in state sports history. Final Four appearences are one of the toughest accomplishment in sports, especially for a program like Wisconsin, as we all know. The opportunity was there for a national title,espcially with Flordia losing. I feel Wisconsin is better than U Conn. This is what makes the Final Four loss a difficultone to swallow.
More on Chuck and Wickett when I join Mike from Dallas from 8-10 AM on Monday morning.
Its Tuesday and Andrew Dunn-Bauman has his Brewers Blog
Brewer Fans Quick to Forgive By Andrew Dunn-Bauman
Brewers fans all know the saga of Ryan Braun. They know about the cheating, they know about the lying, they know about the 65-game suspension. But on Monday afternoon, it seemed the Brewer fan base chose to forgive and forget all of that, and instead greeted Braun with a roaring standing ovation as he approached the plate for the first time since July 2013.
For a group of fans that sounded decidedly furious with Braun when news first broke of his suspension, it was certainly more than a bit surprising to witness the reception Braun received from his home crowd on Opening Day.
I fully understand that the Brewers have a loyal and diehard fan base. I understand that they want their team to succeed on every level, as they understand that Braun is an integral part of this team’s success. The outpouring of support from the 45,691 fans in attendance was merely a reflection of how badly this city wants the Crew to succeed this year, how badly they have missed warm weather and the boys of summer, and how badly the fan base wants to put the past to rest.
But I do not agree with the standing ovation.
For one at-bat, just one at-bat, the Brewer fan base should have sent Ryan Braun a message. Boos would have been appropriate, and they would have sent that message that the fans and city as a whole is disappointed in Braun’s actions - both the fact that he cheated the game of baseball, and that he lied about it, trying to drag others down in the process. Silence, on the other hand, would have been eery and infinitely more effective. Imagine Braun being announced only for the stadium to fall dead quiet. That would have been memorable and effective.
Instead the crowd roared for Braun every plate appearance, sending the message that regardless of all the wrong he has done to the team and its fans, they are willing to accept him with open arms regardless. Brewer fans have taken loads of criticism for this, both from fans of other clubs and national pundits. Some of it is warranted. Some of it is excessive and uncalled for.
But the important thing is that the warm reception is in the past now. The Opening Day fanfare has passed as a blip on the screen, and it is time to get down to the grind of the season. Braun deserves the support of Brewer fans moving forward, because he needs to succeed for this team to succeed. And they are completely in the right to support him as a member of this organization. The fans missed their opportunity to send a message, plain and simple. Now let’s leave the controversy in the past; it’s time for baseball.
I have said the entire season, that I can't make a judgment on this Badger Basketball team until March., I wanted to see March production. A Sweet 16 appearence for this team isn't good enough. A win tonight over Baylor in the Sweet 16 ,will give Bucky its biggest win since beating top seeded Arizona in 2000.
When is the last time Wisconsin has had a win in the NCAA's that you could say, "Wow" ..impressive job?" It hasnt happened under Bo Ryan. Most of the time its losing to inferior teams and they dont get to the big boys.
Wisconsin is still better than Baylor. The Bears are playing great but the Badgers are better. But if Wisconsin isn't hitting those 3's against that Baylor zone defense,it could be another March disappointment. This Badger team has beaten better teams than Baylor this season and they need to win this one otherwise it puts a damper on what was another great regular season.
Andrew Dunn-Bauman is back from Spring Training in Arizona and here is his weekly Brewers Blog
NL Central Preview by Andrew Dunn-Bauman
We’re less than a week from Opening Day at Miller Park, so it’s only right that it’s still below freezing. Nevertheless the countdown is getting serious, so with one final preview before the first pitch of 2014, here’s how I see the NL Central shaking out this season:
St Louis Cardinals (2014 prediction: 100-62)
The Cardinals are once again the team to beat in the NL Central, and with good reason. Adam Wainwright heads what is arguably the best rotation in the MLB. The Redbirds have six viable starters, (five to start the year with Jaime Garcia likely on the DL) and all of them posted ERA’s under four last season. The homegrown pitching depth on this club is uncanny, and extends to the bullpen as well. The Cards have a bunch of young, flame-throwing relievers headlined by closer Trevor Rosenthal, which means facing any portion of this Cardinal staff is a daunting task. Throw in the fact that Yadier Molina is calling the signals behind the dish, and facing this staff quickly becomes an absolute nightmare.
Offensively, the Cards have a solid lineup as well; one that Brewer pitching has struggled with in recent years. While they lost Carlos Beltran this offseason, the signing of Jhonny Peralta in the will provide a boost in production from the shortstop position, which has been inconsistent for the Cardinals recently. And of course, no one wants to face Matt Holliday. Barring an injury-plagued season, the NL Central is there for the Cardinals’ taking.
Cincinnati Reds (89-73)
The Reds won 90 games last season, and I expect them to come close to that total this year. The big loss for Cincinnati this offseason was their leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo to the Texas Rangers. Choo had a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds last year, and his production will be tough to replace at the top of the lineup. But center fielder Billy Hamilton could make waves as the Reds’ new leadoff man, bringing electric speed to the top of the lineup.
Johnny Cueto is the household name on the starting staff, but Mat Latos and youngster Tony Cingrani are above-average pitchers as well, and the lineup is still formidable, with the likes of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Closer Aroldis Chapman took a scary line-drive just above his eye in Spring Training, but reports are saying he could return as soon as late April, and his 100-plus MPH fastball effectively shortens the game to eight innings for the Reds. All in all this club should be competing for a Wild Card spot come September.
Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)
The Brewers are undoubtedly an improved squad this season. Having Ryan Braun for the full season can only benefit the club, and the hope is that a healthy Aramis Ramirez behind him will lead to a potent 3-4 combo for the duration of 2014. Khris Davis in left field is not quite proven yet at the MLB level, but brings another powerful bat to the lineup. The Crew returns a gold-glover in Carlos Gomez, and Jean Segura figures to be a real bright spot again at short, both offensively and defensively.
With the addition of Matt Garza, the starting staff looks truly solid from spots one to five to start the season, which is different from years past in Milwaukee. The bullpen looks to be solid as well, with the most notable addition being rookie Wei-Chung Wang, who made the jump from rookie ball in the Pirates organization last year, to the MLB in 2014. I have the Brewers as the most-improved team in the NL Central this year, earning 13 more victories than the 2013 campaign. Health is always a concern over the course of such a long season, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, I see them in the heat of a Wildcard race.
Pittsburgh Pirates (84-78)
This Pirates roster is largely the same as the one that won an impressive 94 games last season, but with one major piece missing; AJ Burnett. Burnett was a fixture in the Bucs’ 2013 campaign that saw the team snap its 20-year-long playoff drought. As a replacement for him, Pittsburgh signed free agent Edison Volquez, who posted a 5.71 ERA in 2013.
Burnett’s absence will be cost this Pirates teams some wins this season. On top of that, it’s questionable to assume that this club can repeat their magical season of 2013. There are three young arms in the Pirates starting rotation that are the key to the Bucs’ chances. They don’t quite rival the talent of the Cardinals’ young arms, but if they all pitch effectively, they can carry this team towards another successful season. Andrew McCutchen will shine in all facets once again, but I see a season just shy of miraculous this season in Pittsburgh.