The Milwaukee Brewers’ starting rotation had a combined 4.40 ERA in 2016, good for just 17th in the MLB. Here are the adjustments that each starting pitcher should make on the Brewers staff in order to have a more successful 2017.
Junior Guerra threw 1,863 pitches in 2016. Of those 1,863, only 371 were splitters. Guerra threw his splitter just 20% of the time but it accounted for 35% of his swing-and-misses. Hitters didn’t fare well with Guerra’s splitter at all. Against his splitter, batters managed just a .109 average and .208 slugging percentage. Only one of the ten HRs hit against Guerra in 2016 came off of a splitter. In 2017, Guerra should look to throw some more splitters since it his statistically his most dangerous pitch.
Zach Davies had a very good year for the Brewers last season despite being just 23 years old. He has arguably the most promise of any Brewers pitcher who is already up at the Major League level. With that being said, I think Davies should use his changeup more often in 2017. Davies threw 534 changeups in 2016, good for just 20.6% of his total pitches. The pitch gave him over 52% of his swing-and-misses though. The opposition batted just .215 against Davies’ changeup as well. Davies has a pretty slow fastball at just under 90 mph on average so a great changeup is necessary to keep hitters uneasy at the plate. Davies should throw his changeup more in 2017 which should help him cut down on the 20 HRs he gave up in 2016.
Jimmy Nelson did not have a very good 2016 season. He did end up leading the MLB in one statistic though – walks. Nelson gave up a league-high 86 walks in 2016, not something to be proud of at all. Nelson’s BB/9 rate of 4.32 was a full walk more than his BB/9 rate in 2015. Whether Nelson had control issues in 2016 or he simply didn’t trust his defense behind him to get outs when batters hit the ball, he definitely gave up far too many walks. If he can limit his walk totals in 2017 he could be very effective for the Crew.
In 2016, Chase Anderson surrendered 28 home runs, good for the 5th most in the NL. Granted he did play his home games at hitter-friendly Miller Park but a 1.66 HR/9 rate is far too high for any starting pitcher. When Anderson left the ball up in the strike zone in 2016, his opposition punished him. When the pitch was left in the top third of the strike zone, hitters had an exit-velocity of 94.63 mph against Anderson. Only five hitters in the MLB had a higher average exit-velocity than that over the course of the 2016 season. Anderson just needs to do a better job of not missing with his pitches up in the zone and he should be able to cut down on his high HRs-allowed totals in 2017.
Matt Garza hasn’t given the Brewers what they hoped he would when they signed him in 2014 the past two seasons. The 33-year-old is due over $12,000,000 this season and is unlikely to put up the numbers to justify such a contract. Garza can, however, still be an effective pitcher for this Brewers team in 2017 as long as he hits his spots this year. On the outer third of the strike zone, hitters batted just under .200 against Garza. When Garza put the ball down-and-in however, hitters crushed the ball to the tune of a .401 batting average. The difference in batting average between pitch placements is enormous. As long as Garza can hit his spots on the outside third of the plate in 2017, he can return to being an effective starter for Milwaukee.
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