Game Ninety Recap: Dodgers 4, Brewers 3


All season long, the Brewers have had one of baseball’s best bullpens. Their bullpen DRA ranked fifth in the majors coming into Sunday’s game, and they were 25-2 when they have led at the beginning of the seventh inning and 30-0 when leading in the eighth inning. However, two of the club’s best relievers in 2015 — Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith — had disappointing outings.

With Milwaukee leading 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Howie Kendrick faced Jeffress and led off with a single up the middle, but a bobble by Carlos Gomez enabled the Dodgers’ second baseman to reach second base. Manager Craig Counsell brought in lefty Will Smith to face Adrian Gonzalez, and the Brewers’ left-hander got two quick strikes. However, he left his 0-2 slider up in the zone, and Gonzalez yanked it over the right field fence (+.425 WPA). The Brewers never recovered.


At this point, the Brewers bullpen looked it would hold onto yet another close game. Jeremy Jeffress began the seventh inning well when he struck out Yasiel Puig, but he lost his sharpness after the first two batters. His pitches to Kiké Hernandez and Alberto Callaspo were flat, and many missed Jonathan Lucroy’s target by several inches. He wound up putting two men on base with two outs.

However, Jeffress ultimately wiggled his way out when he got Jimmy Rollins to fly out to center field to end the inning (-.092 WPA), but it is worth noting that the ball Rollins put in play was a 1-2 fastball right down the middle. It appeared as if Jeffress had lost his command and had to resort to simply throwing the ball hard. When a pitcher has a 97 mph two-seam fastball, though, such a strategy can be successful against the bottom of an order.


Dodgers starter Brett Anderson was in or around the zone all afternoon, and the Brewers clearly decided to swing early in the count. This appeared to rattle Anderson, who really struggled to command his pitches in the third and fourth innings. He allowed an early home run to Ryan Braun but otherwise had an easy first two innings, as many of the Brewer hitters looked off balance and uncomfortable.

In the third and fourth, though, they started to touch up the southpaw. Two hard-hit singles by Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez and a swinging bunt by Jean Segura loaded the bases with no one out. This was an opportunity for them to capitalize against a shaky pitcher, but they proved unable to do so. Hernan Perez, batting eighth today, hit into a fielder’s choice, which put a runner at third with less than two out but kept the double play in order for Kyle Lohse.

With one out and runners at the corners, Lohse then laid down a bunt. In a vacuum, it was a relatively good bunt. He pushed it towards the first base line and forced Anderson to really move to field it, thus allowing Perez to reach second easily. But Aramis Ramirez opted to try and score on the play, and Anderson was able to flip to catcher AJ Ellis for the easy out. Khris Davis then grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

There were no great options for Craig Counsell here. With the pitcher up — even one who is kind of semi-competent with a bat — and runners on first and third, the manager is limited. He does not want to let the pitcher hit into a double play and end the inning, but a bunt provides the second out and eliminates the advantage of having a runner on third with less than two outs.

Thus, the key moment in this game was not Lohse’s bunt, but rather Hernan Perez’s ground ball. Obviously, if Perez had gotten a hit, the Brewers would have been in a great position to score multiple runs in the inning. And if he had hit a sacrifice fly, the fact that runners would (likely) have been on first and second with one out would have made a Lohse bunt the easy call. Even if he had hit a similar ground ball but had himself been thrown out at first, a situation of runners on second and third with one out would have given Counsell more flexibility to call for a suicide or safety squeeze or just allow Lohse to swing away. This particular outcome, though, spelled doom for the rest of the Brewers’ inning.


Khris Davis made his return from the disabled list this past Tuesday, and on Sunday he started just his second game of the past week. Before getting hurt, he had played in all but four of the team’s games, and he was their everyday left fielder. In his absence, though, Gerardo Parra hit extremely well, and Davis was displaced.

Parra will presumably be traded before the July 31 trade deadline, which should clear a path for regular playing time for Davis. However, there are still a few weeks until that time, and seeing Davis relegated to a platoon bat for that length of time would be a minor disappointment. As one of the few young-ish players on the team, Davis would ideally be getting regular at bats to continue his development. Our own Derek Harvey wrote about his strengths and weaknesses and mentioned that Davis is 27 and, therefore, not likely to improve or truly be an extension candidate, and this is undoubtedly true.

However, Davis may also be a member of the next good Brewers’ team. He is just 27 and a quality hitter, and he is not even arbitration eligible until after next season. He will never be a star, but it would be nice to see him get consistent playing time to see if he can be a legitimate major league-quality hitter.


Today’s game was the last before the All-Star Break, so 23 of the 25 members of the team will get a few days off before they head back to Milwaukee to meet the Pirates. Francisco Rodriguez and late addition Ryan Braun will head to Cincinnati for the All-Star Game.

When the Brewers square off against the Pirates, they will seek to improve on their 7-4 record in July. This mini-surge is too little, too late to make any sort of run at the playoffs, but they truly are playing well. They have not lost a game by more than three runs since June 21 in Colorado, and they have a plus-27 run differential so far this month.

Mike Fiers, Jimmy Nelson, and Taylor Jungmann are scheduled to be on the mound for the three games against Pittsburgh. The Pirates have not yet announced their rotation. A key storyline to watch for in the coming days is whether Gerardo Parra will still be with the team following the All-Star Break. As mentioned above, Khris Davis’ return means that the Brewers have two starting-quality left fielders, and the team will likely be anxious to play the one under long-term control.

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