Brewers: Pinch Hitting for Freddy Peralta the Right Call

The Brewers offensive struggles continued as the dropped Game 3 to the Atlanta Braves. The offense had opportunities, but could not capitalize on them. One of those opportunities came in the 5th inning, and led to Craig Counsell making the right call to pinch hit for Freddy Peralta, after cruising through 4 shutout innings.

After 4 strong innings and a low pitch count, it seemed odd that Brewers manager Craig Counsell would pull Freddy Peralta for a pinch hitter; but it was the right call.

The Brewers were locked in a 0-0 tie, and had a golden opportunity to bring home a run, or two with runners on second and third with no outs. Unfortunately they were not able to capitalize, and ended up losing their starting pitcher and losing the game.

At the moment the Brewers had runners on 2nd and third, according to FanGraphs, they had a 68% chance to win the game, given run expectancy. In fact, taking the Statcast data available, the given the circumstances, the Brewers in that situation were expected to bring across 2.14 runs. 

They didn’t.

Lorenzo Cain ripped a ball on the ground to shortstop, which did not move anyone over. The ball he hit had an exit velocity of 101, and an xBA of .400, meaning he got extremely unlucky with the placement of Dansby Swanson.

After that, with one out, a 61.3% chance to win, and a run expectancy of 1.37 given the situation,  Counsell pulled Peralta back to the dugout and gave Daniel Vogelbach, who slashed .179/.343/.286 as a pinch hitter, the chance to continue his timely pinch-hitting. Vogelbach hit a grounder back to third, catching Luis Urias in a rundown and putting runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs.

Kolten Wong’s lineout had an exit velocity of 100.8 MPH and an xBA of .700, just like Cain, Wong was the victim of defensive positioning.

It wasn’t just defensive positioning that cost the Brewers. On a passed ball, Urias did not make an attempt for second base, if he had he likely would have scored on the Narvaez double. It appeared on the broadcast that Urias didn’t see how far the ball had gone from d’Arnaud, but that was a baserunning mishap that may have cost the team an easy run.

At that point, the Brewers had been held scoreless for 14 straight innings, and were in desperate need of any sign of life from the bats. That desperation prompted Craig Counsell to make a calculated decision to sacrifice starting pitching for the chance to score runs.

Given the team’s immense struggles offensively, and relative strength from the run prevention unit, that trade seemed like a slam dunk.

Hindsight is always 20/20, and perhaps keeping Peralta (slashing .093/.114/.093, with 2 bunt attempts on the year) in and having him attempt a bunt works, perhaps it doesn’t and that same chain of events happens leaving the Brewers run-less.

Ultimately, Craig Counsell made the right decision, turning to someone paid to swing the bat, rather than a pitcher and trusted the bullpen afterwards to hold down the fort.

Blame doesn’t and shouldn’t be placed on Counsell for that, blame falls on the offense for continually being unable to capitalize on the opportunities given to them.