Game 59 Recap: Brewers 4 Athletics 0

Chase Anderson carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Brewers never looked back after an early-inning outburst, beating the A’s 4-0.

Top Play (WPA):
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the Brewers had a 2-0 lead and runners on second and third when Jonathan Villar, one of the league’s hottest hitters, came to the plate.  The A’s chose to intentionally walk Villar, bringing up Scooter Gennett with the bases loaded.  Gennett proceeded to get jammed on the first pitch, but he was able to fist the ball over first base and drive in two runs (+.112).  The Brewers never looked back.

Bottom Play (WPA):
The fact that the most negative play by WPA is a Ryan Braun double play in the bottom of the first is indicative of the flow of the game.  The Brewers took control early with a Gennett RBI single to drive in Villar, and the A’s never really threatened after that.  Braun followed Gennett’s hit with the aforementioned double play, but the damage was done (-.063).

Key Performance:
Chase Anderson had an excellent outing on Wednesday, allowing no runs in 6.7 innings.  This continued a solid stretch for him, as he has now gone six starts in a row allowing no more than three runs.  The Brewers should be encouraged by his performance, as he was a key addition this offseason and another member of the rotation on the correct side of 30.

The Brewers are, however, in an interesting position with Anderson.  He is already 28, so it’s not like he has a ton of development time ahead of him.  And he isn’t as young or promising as Jimmy Nelson or Zach Davies, two Brewers starters that have drawn some level of excitement this season.  Basically, even if Anderson improves and pitches well, he isn’t an incredibly valuable commodity.

Instead, he is just an interesting pitcher on a surprisingly competitive team.  The old saying about never having too much pitching certainly holds for rebuilding teams as well, and Anderson contributes to that.  He isn’t likely to have a ton of trade value at any point in his career going forward, but he looks to be a solid fourth or fifth starter.  While that isn’t incredibly valuable from an asset collection perspective, it certainly is worth something on the field, and that looks to be where the Brewers are taking advantage of his performance.

Trend to Watch:
All of a sudden, the Brewers are only four games back in the NL Wild Card race.  They haven’t been over .500 at any point this season, but they’ve played well over the last two-plus weeks, posting a 10-5 record since May 24.  This is interesting because the organization was not going out of its way to compete–an idea that was solidified by its offseason activity.  However, with a playoff race now in sight, the front office may be tempted to make a move.

I don’t think David Stearns will make a future-mortgaging deal in July, even if the Brewers are within striking distance.  A small move wouldn’t be a shock, whether it be to fortify the bullpen or rotation, but Stearns came to Milwaukee from Houston–an organization noted for its patience in the rebuild.  This seems to bode well for Stearns’s patience this season as well, as trading from what is now a deep farm system just to make a short-term upgrade would be a mistake for a club looking to build for the future.

It’s also worth noting that being four games behind the second wild card isn’t a huge accomplishment this early in the season, as the standings are still more compacted than we might expect. Additionally, the teams expected to contend for the wild card spots are in decent position and are simply more talented than Milwaukee.  The Dodgers are chasing the Giants and have won 11 of their last 15, Cardinals are extraordinarily undershooting their third-order winning percentage (minus-six wins), and the Mets, Pirates, and Giants are all playoff-seasoned teams with more significant top-end talent. This is a relatively formidable group of teams that the Brewers are going to try and compete with, but the fact that they are playing this well is certainly an unexpected positive.

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