Tl;dr: Chase Anderson put the Brewers in an early hole and the Dodgers bullpen held off a late Brewers rally to win 6-5.
Top Play (WPA):
Though they lost, the top play of the game belonged to the Brewers. Specifically, the top play was Ryan Braun’s double in the third inning, which scored both Keon Broxton and Aaron Hill to tie the game at 2 (.212). It was Braun’s only hit of the game, but it was perfectly placed in the gap in left center field between Joc Pederson and Howie Kendrick. Urias threw a first pitch change up away and low, but still in the zone. Though the changeup was a serious weapon for Urias last night (he threw it 15 times for 12 strikes and 5 whiffs), Braun saw it the whole way and hit a solid line drive.
Bottom Play (WPA):
If you were watching the game, I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but Hernan Perez being thrown out at home with 2 outs in the 8th inning was the bottom play of the game (-.122). The eighth inning got a little wild, as the Brewers scored 3 runs and almost tied the game. Pedro Baez started the inning for Los Angeles but on seven pitches sandwiched two hits around an error by Corey Seager, allowing all 3 hitters to reach base.
Baez was pulled for Joe Blanton who promptly allowed Chris Carter to hit a bomb to left center field. Pederson made a hell of a catch, tracking the ball in the gap and slamming into the wall while securing the ball. He went down after the catch, and Jonathan Lucroy tagged up and scored from second base. Pederson would need to be pulled from the game.
At this point, Perez drew a walk and Scooter Gennett drew a pinch hit walk. Milwaukee’s win expectancy had risen from 4.2% at the start of the bottom of the 8th to 28.5%. Then Joe Blanton uncorked a wild pitch. The ball bounced to the 1st base side, but Yasmani Grandal swiftly retrieved it and threw to Blanton, who was covering home. Blanton laid the tag on Perez’s foot, and the inning ended after a futile challenge.
It would seem that it was poor base running, whether Perez made the decision to go home on his own or was sent. If Perez had held up, then Milwaukee had runners on 2nd and 3rd, with two outs. In 2016, a team is expected to score .5677 runs in that situation according to Baseball Prospectus.
That expectancy must be weighed against the hitter Ramon Flores (.232 TAv in 2016) and the pitcher Blanton (3.04 DRA in 2016, but struggling in the inning). Hernan Perez has been a below average runner according to BRR (-0.7 in 2016). Based on the situation, it makes sense for Perez to hold up and see how the at bat plays out, instead of potentially killing the last gasp of the Brewers.
Trend to Watch:
Chase Anderson once again struggled against the Dodgers. Anderson went 4 innings, allowing 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits and two walks, with no strikeouts. His velocity was slightly down on all of his pitches, but the variance was generally around 1 MPH. He once again stayed away from his curveball, which is baffling because its increased usage coincided with his best stretch of the season. Instead, he stayed with his fastballs and changeup, throwing them on 89% of his pitches, compared to his general seasonal average of 78%. Anderson was not fooling hitters last night, and he was either wild or hitting too much of the plate. While the Dodgers have a talented lineup, they’ve made Anderson look like he doesn’t belong in the big leagues over the past week. He’s better than what he’s shown.
Game two of the series is tomorrow afternoon. Junior Guerra starts for Milwaukee. Guerra had a strong start last week in Oakland, going seven innings, striking out 8 hitters, and allowing 2 runs. For Los Angeles, Brock Stewart will make his first career start. Stewart has shot up the minors this year, beginning in season at Single A. He’s unheralded enough that this chat has the only other mention of him at Baseball Prospectus. First pitch is 7:10 PM.