Brauny Brewers invade the Ravine: 2013 Milwaukee Brewers Series Preview

USA TODAY Sports

The surprising Brewers won nine in a row before losing last night to the Padres, putting their record at 11 - 9. For those who don't want to do the math that means they were a pathetic 2 - 8 before the streak.

Not bad considering they were missing their starting 1st and 3rd baseman, who provide just about all the power that Braun does not. They are a combined 1 - 5 against Arizona and Colorado.

They might get a little healthier this weekend, I have heard rumblings that Aramis Ramirez will skip a minor league rehab and be activated this weekend.

The only starting pitcher left from the opening rotation of 2012 is Yovanni Gallardo.

  • Marcum left as a Free Agent
  • Grienke was traded last summer before his impending free agency
  • Randy Wolf was traded last summer before his impending free agency
  • Chris Narveson was hurt last year and has not regained his spot due to another injury

Right now they are relying on two prospects, one with promise, the other just a placeholder, Estrada, Lohse, and Gallardo.

Additions: Jean Segura , Kyle Lohse, Alex Gonzalez

Subtractions: Zach Grienke, Shawn Marcum, Randy Wolf

Key Home Grown Starters: Corey Hart, Richie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Wily Peralta, Hiram Burgos

Old Friends: Not a one

Catcher:Jonathan Lucroy surprised everyone last year with an excellent offensive season (.881 OPS) . So far in 2013 he is hitting much more like the 2011 model (.687 OPS). I'm curious which model he is, an above average offensive catcher or an adequate one. Martin Maldonado backs him up.

First base: The Brewer corner infield have been racked with injury. When Prince left the heir apparent was going to be Matt Gamel but two years in a row he has suffered a season ending injury. Last year they moved right fielder Corey Hart to 1st base, but he had surgery this winter and has yet to play a game. He's expected back in late May. So for now 1st base is being shared by ex shortstops Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez. That is right. This team won nine games in a row with two light hitting shortstops playing 1st base. Alex Gonzales is taking light hitting to a new level. How about a .418 OPS to define light hitting. Betancourt to his credit is hitting like an average 1st baseman. He has slugged three home runs and is carrying a .795, about 100 points higher than his career average.

Second base: Richie Weeks is struggling once again in April. Last April Weeks had a .186 batting average. In 2013 he has a .169 batting average. He'll get going like he always does but it may not be until June if last year is any indication.

Shortstop: Maybe someone finally traded a free agent ace to be for something really useful. Jean Segura was the prize for Zach Grienke and so far he's been much more than anyone could have expected. He's playing good defense, hitting for average .356, hitting for power .493, stealing bases at an excellent clip (6/1), and basically doing an excellent interpretation of an all - star shortstop. He's due for a major fall, he can't be this good, but he's only 23 and the Brewers look like they got a nice player.

Third base: This is crazy. Whatever 1st baseman is not playing 1st, they are playing 3rd. That is right, on any given night, Betancourt and Gonzalez are manning the corners. The Brewer fans hope Aramis Ramirez returns this weekend.

Right field: It took the Brewers a while in 2012 to figure out that Norichika Aoki was a full time player but once they did, their team hit their stride. With Corey Hart moving to 1st base, Aoki made the most of his new found playing time and is now the full time right fielder. He's not great but he's good, providing speed at the top of the lineup along with a bit of power. So far this year his production is a bit behind what he provided in 2013 but it is early. He's a fine player.

Center field: So this is what happens when a platoon player with a huge skill set finally blossoms? Carlos Gomez has been an excellent defensive center fielder since he first showed up but until last year was never able to hit right hand pitching, struck out to much, and just wasn't a good player. In 2012 the injuries to the Brewers forced them to give Carlos full time at bats and he ran with it. This year he is sprinting with it. His K rate has dropped below 20%, he's hitting for power, he's hitting RHP just enough, and he's absolutely killing LHP (1.105 OPS). You may have wondered how the Brewers won nine games in a row. The reason is playing center field. During the nine game winning streak Gomez went 14 for 27, TSL of .519 / .596 / 852. I'd take him over BJ Upton.

Left field: Ryan Braun is being Braun, consistently awesome. Since he showed up in 2007 he has simply been the most consistent great hitter in the outfield. Matt Holliday is about the only other outfielder who can touch this claim.

                                                                        
Player              WAR/pos From   To   Age   PA  HR   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Ryan Braun             34.4 2007 2013 23-29 3927 208 .313 .374 .569 .944
Matt Holliday          31.4 2007 2013 27-33 3965 164 .313 .394 .535 .929
Curtis Granderson      28.6 2007 2012 26-31 3918 183 .262 .344 .503 .846
Torii Hunter           25.9 2007 2013 31-37 3728 134 .288 .350 .471 .821
Carlos Beltran         25.3 2007 2013 30-36 3247 135 .285 .368 .502 .870
Josh Hamilton          24.4 2007 2013 26-32 3240 163 .302 .361 .544 .905
Shane Victorino        23.3 2007 2013 26-32 3814  82 .277 .343 .433 .777
Ichiro Suzuki          21.6 2007 2013 33-39 4348  44 .312 .352 .398 .750
Shin-Soo Choo          21.6 2007 2013 24-30 2869  83 .295 .389 .474 .863
Nick Markakis          21.2 2007 2013 23-29 4109 103 .296 .366 .454 .820
Michael Bourn          21.0 2007 2013 24-30 3403  24 .273 .339 .369 .709
Jose Bautista          20.9 2007 2013 26-32 3245 172 .257 .368 .507 .875

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/25/2013.

Bench:When Aramis returns the bench will get stronger as Alex Gonzalez will probably take a seat. They have some power with Khristopher Davis but not much else. The names are Logan Schafer, Blake Lalli, and Joe Prince. This is not a deep team, with little help on the horizon.

Rotation for Series:

Fairly good news for the Dodgers. They miss the Brewers best pitcher Yovanni Gallardo. They get to face a brand new pitcher who has one start to his belt, a sophomore who probably should still be in AAA, and possibly a dislocated pinky Lohse.

Game 1: Hiram Burgos was not expected to be in the majors this year but here he is. He replaced last years pleasant surprise Mike Fiers. In his first start he went five innings and struck out one, giving up one run. The Dodgers are going to clobber him.

Game 2:Wily Peralta has been their top pitching prospect and he springboarded his fine Sept into a rotation spot. When he's on he has good stuff but so far this year he has not been on. Eleven walks in only twenty two innings with only thirteen k's. He needs to right the ship or he'll be pitching in AAA soon enough.

Game 3: A few people laughed when the Brewers signed Kyle Lohse.Those who felt they weren't good enough to bother, and those who just laugh because it is Kyle Lohse. Kyle has been pretty good in his four starts. I love any pitcher who has only two walks after twenty five innings. If you have given up fewer hits than innings with that kind of control you are going to put some w's on the board for your team. He may or may not make this start. He suffered a dislocated pinky in his last start.

Bullpen

Closer -Once again John Axford lost the closer job early. This time the Brewers turned to long time minor leauger Jim Henderson to pick up the pieces and so far he has done just that. The 30 year old Henderson never saw the major leagues until he was 29. Not often these days do I research and find someone who was drafted by the Montreal Expos, but ole Jim was in 2003. So far Henderson is combining excellent control with a strikeout pitch. It is no coincidence the team got itself together when Henderson took over the closing duties.

Setup: John Axford is now a setup guy and he's doing an excellent job. Over his last six games has no walks, six k's, two hits, and zero runs allowed. So the Brewers have been tough once you hit the 7th inning. Brandon Kintzler has been doing great work for them. Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez are the two lefties out of the pen. For all the stats for the relievers click on this link.

Even though the Brewers have won 9 out of 10 I think the Dodgers are getting them at the right time. The Brewers are on a West coast swing, the starting pitching is young and suspect, Segura is due to cool down, while the Dodgers offense looks like it is about to click into gear.

Geez, I wrote this before watching the offense flail against one Jeremy Hefner. If the offense can't hit Hefner I have no idea what will happen this weekend. WTH I'm calling for a sweep, the Brewers will go from winning nine in a row to losing four in a row not because I think the Dodgers are any good but simply because that is how baseball works.

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