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Best and Worst: Brewers vs. Cardinals II

stevenjewell
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The Brewers have dropped another series, this time 2-1, to the division leading Cardinals, who came into the matchup as one of the best teams in the league. While St. Louis was marred by injuries, they managed to outscore the Brewers 11-9. It’s clear the Crew is playing better than at the start of the season, but they have still yet to win a series.

THE BEST:

1. Khris Davis went 3 for 9 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts to continue his strong start from a patience-at-the-plate standpoint. His power numbers are way down, but there’s no reason to think that that will be a problem, he’s always had power. What he struggled with last year was his walk percentage, which fell to 5.8%, around half as much as he walked in AAA in his career.

There is a modest correlation between minor league and Big League walk rates, at least enough to project an improvement over last year’s disappointing numbers, and so far Davis has exceeded expectations. In 75 PA, Davis has a sweet 9.3 BB%, after a 1.0% affair last April, which was inevitably a huge factor in his low total.

2. Wily Peralta earned a quality start yesterday, separating himself from two rough starts that shot his ERA north of 5.50. Once again the offense failed to perform, and the bullpen gave up the game late, but hopefully Peralta can string together a few strong starts and get more run support next time. 

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3. Similarly, Matt Garza had his first quality start in a while (in his case, since last season), but was defeated as the offense scored zero runs on Friday.

4. Jean Segura went 5 for 13 (.385) in the series while batting leadoff, providing a spark that the Brewers hope will remain as the season progresses. Segura’s walk percentage has been rough so far (2.6%) and will have to improve if he is going to continue to hit near the top of the order.

5. Perpetual “THE BEST” member Adam Lind makes the grade again this series, going 4 for 11 (.364) with a double and home run while knocking in 3 while hitting cleanup. Lind should have been the choice for the 4-hole at the start of the year anyway, and he has entrenched himself in the spot. He’s now slashing .324/.392/.569 with a 10.9 BB%.

THE WORST:

1. The offense failed to perform in games 1 and 2, hitting under .220 each time. The pitching staff has been looking up lately, and maybe the final game of the series is a sign of the future, but the offense to this point has shown nowhere near the rebound that the team’s starters have.

2. Jonathan Lucroy was struggling mightily when he went down with a fractured toe, and his replacements have failed to pick up the bats in his absence. Martin Maldonado in the first two games, then Juan Centeno in the final, combined to go 1 for 11 with 5 strikeouts. Neither is particularly known for his offense, especially in the latter’s case, but the team expects more from its backstops.

3. Will Smith blew Friday’s game open when he failed to do what he does best: dominate lefties. After getting Peter Bourjos out, Smith gave up a double to Matt Carpenter and walked Jason Heyward, and was promptly pulled from the game.

4. After Smith was pulled, Jeremy Jeffress was called in. Jeffress threw a first-pitch curveball to Matt Holliday,who hit a three-run homer. The ‘pen can’t be expected to succeed 100% of the time, but the performance added to Jeffress’s worrying peripherals. Despite a 2.79 ERA, Jeffress has walked as many batters as he has struck out (5), for a 4.66 K and BB/9.

That’s both a tiny strikeout rate and a high walk rate, the latter being more worrying, as Jeffress will likely always have plenty of K’s in his game. If his walk rate remains where it is, however, instead of being more reminiscent of his strong 2014 numbers, the Crew could lose him to the control issues that have plagued his career.

5. Ryan Braun has yet to perform how fans hoped he would given his new-found health. He went 0 for 7 with a walk and 4 strikeouts in the series, taking the final day off. Braun is slashing .230/.277/.279 while swinging at 46.0%  of pitching outside of the strike zone (according to Baseball Info Solutions). Braun has a career O Swing% more than 10% lower than that, enough of a discrepancy to worry even the biggest Braun supporters.

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