Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
After holding (and sweeping) the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox to four runs over three games, I started to think about this year’s rotation versus the rotation from the 2011 season. Yes, the rotation that featured Zack Greinke who led the Brewers to an NL Central Division Title. This will be a five round fight to the finish. No. 1 vs. No. 1, No. 2 vs. No. 2, etc. (You get the idea). This will be analyzed by statistics most importantly, but I’ll also throw in a little bit of value as well to make it balanced. Let’s see how they match up.
Round 1: 2011 Yovani Gallardo vs. 2014 Yovani Gallardo
2011 was arguably Yovani’s best season as a starter in the big leagues. He went 17-10 and posted a 3.52 ERA, 207 strikeouts over 207.1 innings, 9.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and 3.51 SO/BB. Since then, he has trended downwards. He’s lost velocity on his fastball, his walks per nine innings has gone up while his strikeouts per nine innings has gone down, and his ERA and WHIP have skyrocketed. But, there’s something about this year’s Gallardo that is very interesting. He’s off to a 2-0 start and has yet to give up an earned run. Gallardo’s command has also been very good as he’s only given up two walks over 12.2 innings pitched. By accumulating less strikeouts, Gallardo will preserve his pitch count which is ever so monitored by Ron Roenicke and thus will go further into ball games. Still, with only two games under his belt, it’s hard to tell what we’ll get out of him this year. Nonetheless, he has started on the right path.
Winner: Undecided (2014 – 0, 2011 – 0, Tie – 1)
In 2011, Zack Greinke did not lose a game at Miller Park. He went 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 15 games at The Keg. On the road, however, it was a different story. He went 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA away from Miller Park. Greinke wasn’t perfect by any means, as he had a few games where he was just uncharacteristically bad.
The Brewers gave up everything but the kitchen sink to acquire Zack from the Royals in the 2010/2011 offseason. The Brewers sent over shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain, and top prospects Jeremy Jefferies and Jake Odirizzi in exchange for Greinke and
shortstop second baseman third baseman first baseman left fielder super utility baseball player and nice guy Yuniesky Betancourt. Kyle Lohse, on the other hand, cost the Brewers the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft. In his first year with the Brewers, he went 11-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 32 games. He posted two complete games, one of which was a shutout, too. Still, no matter how you look at it, without Zack Greinke in 2011 the Brewers don’t win the division and make a deep run in the playoffs.
Winner: Zack Greinke over Kyle Lohse (2014 – 0, 2011 – 1, Tie – 1)
Shaun Marcum came to the Brewers in 2011 from the Blue Jays in exchange for top prospect Brett Lawrie. Although Shaun had a decent regular season, posting a 13-7 record with a 3.56 ERA and 3.0 WAR, Shaun’s postseason was a dumpster fire. He went 0-3 with a 14.90 ERA in three starts while only striking out five over 9.2 innings. Just an unbelievably bad couple games for Shaun which proved to end the Brewers run at a World Series. Matt Garza was acquired as a free agent late in the 2013/2014 offseason after having some “red flag” issues with his elbow in 2012. The Brewers paid out $52MM for Matt Garza on a four year deal, which ended up being three more million dollars than Ricky Nolasco and two more million than Ubaldo Jimenez. If Garza can stay healthy this year, he’ll be one of the most dominate No. 3 starters in baseball. He already started off the year with a solid outing of 8.0 IP, 1.13 ERA and 7 strikeouts even though he took the loss. The best part about signing Garza? We didn’t lose a draft pick as he did not receive a qualifying offer from the Rangers. Value is the key word here. (Never forget: MarcumGloveFlip.GIF)
Winner: Matt Garza over Shaun Marcum (2014 – 1, 2011 – 1, Tie – 1)
This is the most difficult match-up not counting the Yovani vs. Yovani one. Randy Wolf was outstanding in 2011 in his own right, all things considered. He was aging and had somewhat of a reincarnated career with the Brewers. He put up a respectable 13-10 record with a 3.69 ERA. In the post season, Wolf had an awful game against the DBacks but pitched a stellar game against the Cardinals. This would be the last successful year Randy Wolf would have in his career. Marco Estrada was just a guy in the bullpen back in 2011. Now, he’s one of the most efficient pitchers on the Brewers roster. Estrada has averaged 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.3 walks per nine innings over the last three seasons. Health has been an issue for Marco over the last few years, as well as run support for him. Marco had a lights out spring and started off the season by shutting down the defending world champion Red Sox by only giving up one earned run. This one went to the judges table for a ruling. Youth and efficiency win.
Winner: Marco Estrada over Randy Wolf (2014 – 2, 2011 – 1, Tie – 1)
In the realm of it all, Narveson was
okay at best as a No. 5 starter in 2011. He posted a 11-8 record, but his other stats were not anything to write home about. For example, a 4.45 ERA, 1.392 WHIP, and cutting is hand open with a scissors trying to fix a baseball glove are just to name a few. Wily Peralta is this year’s No. 5 starter and honestly there is not much of an argument to make here. If I asked one hundred Brewers fans who they would rather have to bottom out the rotation, ninety-seven would say Peralta. The other three would say Narveson just because they think a rotation always needs a left handed starter.
Winner: Wily Peralta over Chris Narveson (2014 – 3, 2011 – 1, Tie – 1)
Final: 2014 over 2011, 3-1-1.
So what does this prove? Absolutely nothing, honestly. We really won’t know which rotation will be better until this season is over. And, that’s the last thing I want to think about right now is the end of this fresh new season. However, on paper, what Doug Melvin, Ron Roenicke and staff assembled for this rotation is really stacked to be something special. It’s been a fun first couple of games. It’s fun being in first place.