Tag Archives: Chris Carpenter

No, really. Start managing like it’s the playoffs.

Posted by Steve

It’s been a few days since I was able to post, and quite a bit has happened in the world of Brewers baseball over that time. It’s old news by now to talk about beating Arizona, so I’ll just say that attending that game was perhaps the most nerve-wracking and exhilarating thing I’ve ever experienced. Amazing.

But moving on to this series. Of course, my worst nightmare of facing the Cardinals came true. Anybody but the Cardinals. Since there’s nothing they can do about it now, let’s take a look at what we’re working with this series.

Everyone is talking about the struggles of the Brewers’ starting rotation. The starters have struggled, but people seem to be downplaying one important factor: They’ve been facing great offenses. Arizona scored more runs than the Brewers this season, and the Cardinals are the best offense in the National League.

I would argue that neither Zack Greinke on Sunday nor Shaun Marcum yesterday were awful. Both allowed some cheap hits and then made the fatal mistake of giving up a meatball with runners on. Marcum certainly doesn’t seem like himself, but he was hurt by bunting, hit-and-runs and poor defense as well.

At some point, you have to be willing to admit a good part of the runs the Brewers hav given up is due to the Cards’ great offense.

Now, how does that help any going forward? It doesn’t, really; they’ll still be facing a great offense. It’s why I don’t expect the Brewers to win this series, but you never know. The Brewers’ offense has knocked around Cardinal pitching as well, so I expect more slugfests going forward.

Before looking ahead to the rest of the series, I want to reflect on yesterday’s trouncing. Obviously, the pitching and defense needs to be better, but I was again discouraged by what I saw from Ron Roenicke. Again, his moves are ones that managers make in a regular season game. There was no sense of urgency.

After the top of the fourth inning, the Cardinals had a five-run lead. The Brewers finally got on the board with Weeks’ homer and cut it to 5-2. I ask you this: Is a three-run deficit heading to the fifth inning still a winnable game? Apparently not to Roenicke. At least that’s what his decision communicated.

After cutting the lead to three runs, the Brewers needed to hold the Cardinals right where they were. They had their 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Who does Ron turn to when he needed a hold? Saito? Hawkins? Even Loe with right-handed Pujols and Holliday due up?

Nope. The answer is: the last guy in the bullpen! That’s right; after cutting the lead to three and the heart of their order coming up, Roenicke called on Marco Estrada. Unbelievable.

Again, this move makes perfect sense during the regular season. Marcum wasn’t getting it done, they pinch hit for him in a scoring opportunity, and then they need the long reliever Estrada to eat some innings and save the bullpen.

But what are we saving the bullpen for now? Especially with a day off before the next game! The Brewers gained nothing by not having Saito, K-Rod or Axford pitch yesterday. They wouldn’t have lost anything either, as I mentioned, because of the off day today.

This is just like when he kept Randy Wolf in to face Cowgill in the game against Arizona. Both times it was crucial that the Brewers stop the bleeding, as they were very much still in the game. Both times RRR failed to recognize that fact, and the game blew up and got away from them.

As much as I despise Tony La Russa with every fiber of my baseball being, he runs circles around Roenicke when it comes to this. He removed his starting pitcher with a three-run lead in the fourth inning! Talk about something you’d never see during the regular season. Yet, it was the right move. TLR sensed the Brewers were figuring Edwin Jackson out, and he made a proactive move rather than the one Reactive Ron Roenicke (“Reactive” has replaced “Runnin'” until further notice) made.

So anyway. I want to see that change immediately, or the Brewers will waste more opportunities.

Quickly looking ahead. What do the Brewers need to do? They don’t necessarily need to win tomorrow; they just need to win one of the next two. I’d feel great about a 2-2 series. I’m not sure I see it, though.

I’m very nervous about tomorrow. I wish the Brewers would essentially punt Game 3 and put their eggs in the Game 4 basket. Here’s my reasoning: tomorrow is Yo against Chris Carpenter (ugh). Carpenter’s been lights out lately, and the odds of the Brewers beating Carpenter in the Cards’ first home game of the series is pretty low. So why waste Yo in this game? Pitch Randy Wolf instead. That way, if you lose the game, no big deal–you have a huge advantage in Game 4 with Gallardo against Kyle Lohse. And if you somehow win the Wolf-Carpenter match-up, well then you’re sitting pretty with Yo against Lohse in Game 4 and a great chance at a 3-1 series lead.

But if Yo loses to Carpenter tomorrow, suddenly they’re faced with Randy Wolf on the mound in a must-win game. Not an enjoyable thought, but  a very real possibility.

This is all moot, as Yo is going to start tomorrow. Like I said, this makes Game 3 much more crucial than I’d have liked it to be. For this reason, the Brewers need to do everything they can to give themselves an edge. Specifically, I’d like to see Carlos Gomez get the start in center over Nyjer Morgan.

I know it sounds funny to ask for Gomez to start against a righty over Morgan, but consider the factors. First, Morgan and Carpenter have their history, and you never know what sort of controversy might arise with Morgan in the lineup. More importantly, though, Morgan hasn’t been hitting lately, and he has very poor numbers against Chris Carpenter in his career. And most importantly, Gomez is the team’s best defender, and they’re going to need all the defense they can get in what could be a low-scoring game. Gomez isn’t likely to hit Carpenter, but neither is Morgan, so get the All-World defender in center if it’s a wash. Morgan’s play in center yesterday should only further help RRR to make this decision.

To be honest, I’d be fine playing Morgan in right over Hart. That makes the outfield defense fantastic. hart only has a .701 OPS against Carpenter in his career, so it’s not like the Brewers would be missing much.

So, to recap:

  • Remember it’s the playoffs, and manage accordingly
  • Flip Yo and Wolf.
  • Since you won’t flip Yo and Wolf, at least play Gomez in center. The Brewers need great defense in what they hope is a low-scoring game.
  • Win plz.

 

Let the good times roll

Posted by Steve

Things are looking pretty darn good these days for the Brewers. They’re on a serious roll, having won 11 of 12 games, including six over the hapless AAA team from Houston. On one hand, you could argue that it’s not as impressive coming against teams like the Cubs and Astros. On the other hand, you could say the Brewers’ brutal first half schedule is finally evening out, and they’re taking full advantage of it.  That’s the hand I’m going with.

The starting pitching has been solid, and the top 3 starters have been great. The bullpen has been great. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are carrying the team, although Yuniesky Betancourt, of all people, has been the one to replace Rickie Weeks offensively. All Yuni’s doing is starting to make up for the horrible impact he had on the team the first few months of the year, but at least he’s doing something now.

Baseball Prospectus has the Brewers at 75.8% to make the playoffs (that’s as of Sunday morning, so it’ll be a bit higher after yesterday’s win). They’re really in great position. The only frustrating thing about this past week is the Cardinals haven’t lost either. Pretty incredible that neither team has lost since that wacky series in Miller Park ended.

Even though they haven’t gained ground on the Cards, they’ve still improved their playoff positioning. They’re now only a game behind wildcard-leading Atlanta, so if the Cardinals somehow caught fire, the Brewers would still have a chance to get in. Likely more important, though, is that the Brewers are now ahead of every team in the N.L. West. Obviously the main concern is to just get in the playoffs, but after that, you’d certainly like to avoid playing the Phillies in the first round. If the playoffs started today, the Brewers would play Atlanta instead of Philadelphia.

First things first though. There is still a lot of baseball to go, and a three game lead can disappear quickly. This Cardinals series is huge, but the pressure is on St. Louis. All the Brewers need to do is not get swept. The Cards probably need to win 2 of 3. Anything more than one in in this series is gravy in my eyes. The Brewers will leave St. Louis either tied, two games ahead, four games ahead, or six games ahead. I’ll be fine with a two game lead, and like I said, anything more is icing on the cake.

That’s the rational way of thinking. The fan in me wants to stomp on the Cards a la 2008 when Braun pimped his go-ahead homer that gave the Brewers a 4-game sweep in St. Louis–still the most satisfying mid-season series in my lifetime. I’m so sick of the Tony La Russa, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter, and Albert Pujols (in that order, probably) that I want to put the division out of reach for them.

One thing I am happy to praise Ron Roenicke for is he hasn’t fallen for any of La Russa’s head games–the same ones that chewed up Ned Yost and spit him out. Here’s hoping that continues in another pivotal Cardinals series.

Pitch Charting: Gallardo vs. Carpenter

Posted by Steve

Considering all the high-scoring games yesterday, I was fortunate to be assigned to the Brewers-Cardinals game from yesterday. As you might imagine, it’s probably the best pitched game I’ve charted all season. I take some notes every game I chart, and I figured since it was such a good game I’d share them here.

Yovani Gallardo

Pitches and Average Velocity:  Fastball (91), Curveball (79), Slider (85), Changeup (84)

  • First time through the lineup used fastball, curve, slider.  Mixed in changeup beginning with the second time through the order.
  • His fastball location was great.  He was painting corners and regularly hitting his spots with the fastball.  He sat comfortably at 91-92 and touched 95-96 a few times.
  • His two plus pitches are a fastball and curve, but his location on the curve was shaky at times today.  He opted for the slider more than the curve in the earlier innings, which is a bit unusual for him.  He went back to the curve later in the game, and found more success.  He got Albert Pujols twice on curveballs in the dirt, including one in the eighth which was the worst swing I’ve ever seen Pujols take.
  • He was effective, but he wasn’t exactly efficient.  He needed 126 pitches to get through eight innings (Incidentally, I was angry that Macha sent him out to start the eighth.  Gallardo is the most irreplaceable player on the team, and throwing him that many pitches is really asking for trouble).  He had some trouble putting people away at times, and threw a few too many balls.  However, it says a lot about him that he was able to throw eight shutout innings without being his sharpest.
  • Pitch selection in this game: 65% fastballs, 17.5% curveballs, 9.5% sliders, 5% changeups, 3% no video (broadcast missed pitch).

Chris Carpenter

Pitches and Average Velocity: Fastball (92), Slider (88), Curveball (75), Changeup (84)

  • Gallardo was good, but Carpenter was just about perfect.  He had outstanding control of his fastball, curveball and slider and issued no walks.
  • He used his breaking pitches liberally, which was the right strategy against the Brewers’ righty-stacked lineup.
  • He was very efficient, as he pounded the strike zone and got many outs early in the count.
  • Easily could have thrown in the ninth, as he was at 93 pitches after eight innings, but Tony La Russa obviously is easing him back into things after coming off the DL.
  • Pitch selection in this game: 37.6% fastballs, 31.2% curveballs, 28% sliders, 3.2% changeups.

So there you have it.  Nothing too interesting, but having this for every pitcher I chart over the entire season should really help.

Hopefully Suppan can keep up the recent dominance of the Cardinals, but I’m not crazy about the matchup against Adam Wainwright.