Tonight marked the first tilt in a four-game series against the Pirates. For the Brewers, this also proved to be the second-longest game of the season. In thirteen innings played, the Brewers used eight different pitchers that struck out ten batters. Their offense tallied twelve hits but also struck out fourteen times.
The Brewers first salvo came in the first inning. Scooter Gennett led off with a double to right field. Elian Herrera’s groundout advanced Gennett to third. A subsequent groundout from Ryan Braun brought the runner home. The offense continued as Adam Lind smacked a single to center field. Tired of the small ball, Khris Davis launched a dinger over the center-field wall, giving the Brew Crew the early lead, 3-0.
The Pirates remained silent as Wily Peralta blanked the Bucs through four scoreless frames. It was in the bottom of the fifth inning that the Pirates finally put a run on the board. Up until that point, Peralta had only allowed two hits. It was a walk, a single, and two consecutive flyouts that brought the Pedro Alvarez across the plate. Unphased by the small ball, Peralta promptly picked off Francisco Cervelli to end the inning. Pittsburgh did not score again with Peralta on the mound.
As BP Milwaukee’s Ryan Romano pointed out, the bullpen has been the saving grace of this team many times over. In fact, this season, Milwaukee ranks fifth in relief DRA (3.92) — behind clubs like the Royals (3.45), Astros (3.57), and the Mets (3.87). It came as no surprise that Counsell reached out to the bullpen to relieve an exhausted Peralta.
After six innings, Peralta had thrown 89 pitches. Through those innings, Peralta’s command was tight and controlled.
Unfortunately, by the seventh inning, Peralta was clearly gassed. Out of eleven pitches thrown, only three made it into the strike zone and only one of those three was a swinging strike.
Peralta gave up a hit to Jung-Ho Kang, unleashed two wild pitches which advanced Kang to third, and then walked Starling Marte to put men on the corners. Jeremy Jeffress came in to relieve Peralta. He did a fine job of getting Pedro Alvarez and #oldfriend Aramis Ramirez to strikeout swinging. But two walks — one to Cervelli and another to Travis Snider — loaded the bases, allowed the Pirates to score, and put the tying run ninety feet from the plate. Will Smith relieved Jeffress and made quick work of Gregory Polanco, ending the inning. A sudden home run from Andrew McCutchen in the eighth closed the gap and brought the game to a tie.
An otherwise superb outing from Peralta was marred in the seventh and eighth innings. The pitching ultimately fell apart and nearly cost the Brewers their fragile lead.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Only nine games have been played in September, but so far, Khris Davis is posting a vastly improved on-base percentage. This is likely credited to his improved walk rate. Nine games may not seem like a large enough sample to prove any indication of an improved or declining walk rate. However, the month-to-month data for Davis may indicate otherwise.
|Month||BB% After First Nine Games||BB% For The Month|
July was an odd month for Davis as he only played 17 games. Plus, his first nine games in that month were also his first nine games back after being sidelined with an injury for all of June.
Interestingly, Davis is not only showing a more patient approach at the plate, he is also showing a decreased strikeout rate — 23.7 percent in September compared to 30.1 percent in August and 37.5 percent in July. If Davis is able to maintain his walk rate while still keeping his strikeout rate low, he will be a new threat at the plate, a patient hitter with significant power.
For your immediate attention, Jimmy Nelson takes the mound on Friday against Charlie Morton. In his last start, against Cincinnati, Nelson went 5.0 innings, gave up nine hits, and only struck out three batters. His command has not been consistent. Against the Reds, his pitches were ending up on the left side of the strike zone, an area that has been historically troublesome for him.
The resulting factor has been an inconsistent release point. When facing the Indians on August 26th, I pointed out that there was a slight tweak to his release point that cause his pitches to break low and to the right of the plate. Against the Reds, his release point was noticeably higher and slightly to the left from his release point when his command is solid.