Game 104 Recap: Padres 7 Brewers 3

The final day, the final hours of the trade deadline were hectic. Jonathan Lucroy, Will Smith, and Jeremy Jeffress were all traded, leaving the Brewers with somewhat of a depleted roster for tonight’s game. But, all of these trades, while hurting the overall quality of the team, will open spots for other players.

Top Play (WPA): The top play of this game happened in the 5th inning. Villar was the leadoff hitter and he started off the inning by grounding out to second base. The next batter was the seemingly rejuvenated Scooter Gennett. After struggling and coming off of his early season injury, Gennett has recaptured his early season success; Gennett singled on a line drive to center.

The next batter was Hernan Perez, who has shown an increase in his power hitting this year. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Perez hit an up-and-away ball to the opposite field for a two-run home run.

This gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead.

Bottom Play (WPA): The worst play of the game came in the third inning, when the Brewers were down 1-0, and were up at the plate. Jimmy Nelson led off the inning, and he was actually able to work a leadoff walk.

It is important to note that newly acquired Jarred Cosart was pitching for the Padres. He was having some command issues, as this was his third walk of the game.

Villar was the next batter, and he struck out swinging. However, Gennett followed with another walk, Cosart’s fourth in just 2.3 innings pitched. And would you have it, Perez was the next batter. Perez isn’t known for being the most patient hitter, but he as well was able to work a walk. Perez loaded the bases with one out for Chris Carter, one of the most patient hitters in the game.

But, this is the worst play of the game for a reason. Carter uncritically swung at the first pitch of the at-bat and grounded into an inning-ending double play that ended the threat.

Nelson’s Struggles: The reason the Brewers lost this game was two-fold. First, the Brewers weren’t able to take advantage of a wild Cosart. Cosart has struggled with his walk rates all year evident by his 8.61 BB/9 in the majors this year. Even in the minors, Cosart’s walk rates weren’t great. In Triple-A Cosart’s BB/9 was 4.44. The Brewers are also one of the more patient teams in the league. Therefore, this seemed like a match made in heaven, but alas the Brewers were unable to capitalize in key situations.

The other reason was Jimmy Nelson’s poor start. Nelson struggled from the get go as the Padres got off to an early 1-0 lead after the first inning. It was clear that Nelson didn’t have his good stuff, struggling with his walks, and the location of his pitches, Nelson gave 6 earned runs in just four innings pitched. He walked four hitters only struck out four and gave up 8 hits.

Early on in the game, the broadcast team talked about Nelson’s good ERA and how his 6-9 (at the time) win-loss record was not indicative of his season. Nelson’s ERA is currently at 3.74, but this ERA is misleading.

The problem is that all of Nelson’s peripherals tell a different story of a different pitcher, FIP: 4.79, xFIP: 4.76, DRA: 4.69, cFIP 106.

While ERA tells a story, it rarely tells the full story. It tells us how a pitcher is preventing his runs, runs that weren’t allowed by errors. But, as we know, the pitcher isn’t the only agent in control of preventing these runs. There’s the defense, the catcher, temperature, luck, and more.

But, Nelson’s season can be explained quite easily. Nelson, this year, has a 4.44 RA9. RA9 does not include errors, and this stat is much more in line with his peripherals. Basically, this means that Nelson has benefitted greatly from runs that have scored, but that weren’t earned to him because a defender made an “error” (leading to a low ERA). Now, we know that errors are a bad stat that doesn’t accurately represent the impact of the defense, which is why ERA is a very problematic stat.

The other differences can be explained rather simply: Nelson’s strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and so are his home runs. The are all troubling signs.

It’s understandable to want Nelson to be a mid-tier starter, but the reality is that Nelson is more of a #5 starter than he is a #3.

Coming Up Next: The Brewers will be in action again tomorrow at 10:10 PM ET. Once again they will be facing off against the Padres. Zach Davies will get the nod. He’s easily been the Brewers second best starter after Guerra. The biggest difference separating them, however, has been the home runs. Davies’ HR/9 is at 1.03 while Guerra’s stands at .78. Home runs have been a problem for Davies all year, but maybe he starts rectifying that this game.

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