Good morning, and welcome to the final Rolling Out the Barrel of the 2015 regular season. Just one last series remains, as Milwaukee will close the books on a disastrous campaign with a three-game set against Chicago at a stadium that will almost assuredly earn the pejorative moniker of Wrigley Park North this weekend. We’ve got a just a few links for you today, partly because it’s October in a lost season and no one but us is really talking about the Brewers anymore, and partly because there’s an important piece that I command you to read and I talked a lot about it. If you need a rooting interest besides spoiling any chance the Cubs are currently entertaining of hosting Wednesday’s Wild Card game, the Astros (and our beloved ex-Brewers Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers) enter their final regular season series – an interleague match-up with high-class organization Arizona (more on that in a very short moment) – with a one game lead on Los Angeles for the final AL Wild Card slot. The Astros have not announced a probable pitcher for Sunday’s regular season finale, but Fiers could take the ball on regular rest should Houston call on him.
I want to thank Nicole Haase (@NicoleHaase) for writing this piece and putting on Brew Crew Ball, allowing me to talk about this with a Brewers connection. This is an absolute must-read, if there’s ever been one in this space before. It’s time to make a change. I’m going to go in on this issue below, but please don’t take that as an excuse to skip Haase’s brilliant piece. I’m a straight, white, American male; I don’t know a damn thing about being ostracized at a sporting event. I am not the opinion that matters.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ TV crew of Bob Brenly and Steve Berthiaume completely embarrassed themselves by spending a full two minutes shaming a group of young ladies for having the audacity to take pictures of themselves during a lull in the action of a thrilling 1-0 game between the third- and last-place teams in the NL West. If you can get through it without rage-quitting I encourage you to watch the entire video of the incident, which is embedded in Haase’s piece, so you can get the full scope of how preposterously sexist these two act.
What is gained by this juvenile, gate-keeping mentality from the Arizona booth? By now, these women have assuredly seen themselves as the story has circulated around social media. We now know that this was a sorority from Arizona State – when it comes time to plan their next group event, I bet “go to a baseball game to be mocked by a regional sports broadcaster and then by the entire internet for being regular people in 2015” is not going to be super high on the priority list. Everyone takes selfies now. One of the last games I attended this year was the September 15th game between Milwaukee and St. Louis. I bet you can guess how that ended, and I would have had to at the end of the evening, because I spent the innings after Ariel Pena was pulled from his first MLB start exploring the wonders of the new Snapchat update with my girlfriend. We left in the eighth inning because it was Tuesday and the Brewers aren’t very good and literally who cares.
Never mind that this whole thing was happening during the between-innings break and the run-up to the first batter of the inning. Never mind that the segment literally begins with a promotion asking fans to take pictures of themselves and send them in. Never mind that while Brenly and Berthiaume are breathlessly lambasting these women for not paying attention to the game, they are also not paying attention to the game, even though doing so is literally their entire job description. Never mind that 15+ (the camera never pans out to show exactly how large the group is, presumably in fear of showing the rows of empty seats not occupied by Real Baseball Fans) women decided of their own free will to show up to a baseball game on a Wednesday in late September to watch two teams who had both long been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. No, never mind all of that. This is baseball, and if you’re going to ignore any part of a baseball game, you had better do in the Real Baseball Fan way — by getting up six times to buy a Miller Lite and fighting a guy because he’s wearing different colored laundry.
And if you want to keep your faith in Brewers fans, stop before you get to the comments section.
Let’s get back to talking about the on-field product. During a September 18-20 series, Milwaukee and Cincinnati did something that hadn’t been done in over 100 years: in their three-game series, every starting pitcher for both teams was a rookie. Results went as one might expect. Two of the weakest offenses in the National League combined for 36 runs on 71 hits. It was part of a larger experiment for the Reds, who haven’t used a non-rookie pitcher since July 28th, while Milwaukee’s reliance on rookie pitching has been due more to extremely poor performance (Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse) and injury (Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta).
Of course, the Brewers haven’t been quite so extreme in their use of rookies on the mound. They’ve now used a rookie in 13-straight games as of Thursday night and will almost certainly finish the season with rookies as well, bringing their streak to 17 when it’s all said and done. Extending beyond that, Milwaukee’s starting rotation has been startlingly young for much of the second half of the year, particularly in September – the last Brewers’ starter who’s seen his 27th birthday is Garza, who last pitched during game one of a September 5th double header. Things haven’t gone well at all for the Reds during their rookie-heavy stretch, going 19-40 over that stretch as of Jonah Keri’s writing on Sept. 30, including an active 12-game losing streak that has allowed the Brewers to clinch fourth place (yay) in the NL Central.
FanGraphs || Projecting Milwaukee’s Slew of Late-September Call-Ups (Sept. 25, 2015) (Chris Mitchell)
Chris Mitchell (@_chris_mitchell) spent some time projecting out the first several years of the six prospects who were called up from the Southern League runners-up Biloxi Shuckers last Tuesday. He’s got some encouraging things to say about outfielder Michael Reed and right hander Jorge Lopez, each of whom had breakout seasons in 2015. If we want to get real optimistic with it, we can cherry-pick Bernie Williams and Jordan Zimmerman as comps for Reed and Lopez, respectively, according to Mitchell’s system. Mitchell doesn’t have too much positive to say about the rest of the Biloxi invasion, none of which are highly regarded prospects — Adrian Houser (#27) is the only other of the group on the MLB.com Top 30 prospect list for Milwaukee. He almost completely writes off Yhonathan Barrios, who has impressed during his short audition over the past week — though he fails to mention that Barrios, a converted infielder, has only been pitching for two years.