The Brewers dropped another series today two wins to one to the Pirates, but showed some major improvements over their first three losses to the Rockies.
1. Jimmy Nelson joined Wily Peralta as a quality starter after he went seven innings, allowing just two singles and walking two batters while setting a new career mark with nine strikeouts. With the team struggling out of the gate, having the youngest members of the rotation perform well has been a blessing.
Nelson featured his new curveball, that was so good he could have been throwing it since little league. One of my concerns for him going forward was a third pitch, which Nelson seems to have found with ease. This is a very encouraging development for a pitcher who tore up AAA before learning the curve.
2. Hector Gomez had his first start of the year in the Brewers first win yesterday, when he hit two doubles as a major part of the team’s win. He added another double today, and may have forced an early discussion about a platoon at second base.
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3. Kyle Lohse had a bounce-back game, even if a 5.68 game ERA doesn’t seem to imply it. His FIP was a much more bearable 3.84, and is a far cry from his 10.10 FIP coming into today. His ERA still has a long way to come down now that he’s given up 14 ER in 9 2/3 innings, but he’s trending in the right direction.
4. Khris Davis is having a nice start to his season, slashing .273/.360/.409, with three of his six hits coming as doubles. He has also walked three times against three strikeouts. Last April, Davis walked just once against 32 strikeouts for a .267 OBP. That poor start was a major factor in his uncharacteristically low walk rate in 2014, which this year should be up around 7.2% as it was in his rookie campaign.
1. Scooter Gennett is off to a poor start, hence the chance for Gomez. He was originally replaced by Carlos Gomez (!) at second base after being ejected on Friday as part of what Brew Crew Ball called the second baseman’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. After a pinch hit single today and another strikeout, Scooter is 2/17 (.118) with seven strikeouts.
2. Despite Lohse’s improvement, the Crew still sandwiched Nelson with two poor starts. Mike Fiers gave up five earned runs in five innings, though, like Lohse, his FIP (3.50) wasn’t nearly so painful.
3. There was general sloppiness in today’s game as C. Gomez was picked off of second base after a nice double, and Davis dropped a routine line drive that could have been a double play. The team has an unfortunate recent history with baserunning blunders, but hopefully their defense doesn’t become as infamous.
Overall, opponents have now twice scored 10 runs. You can’t expect the offense to win games like those for the pitching staff, but the hitters have struggled to take close games or keep the team in games so far. Combine that with struggling starting pitching and you inevitably have a losing team.