Weekend Recap: Aguilar and Moustakas

The Brewers had another successful week, splitting a four game series in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, then returning to Milwaukee and winning two of three games against the Rockies. Though the team endured an embarrassing loss on Thursday in which the Brewers allowed the most runs in team history (which at least wasn’t their most lopsided loss ever), Milwaukee is still only one game behind Chicago for the division and leads Atlanta by 1.5 games for the first Wild Card spot. Looking forward, the Brewers have an easier travel schedule for the rest of the season. There are no more west coast trips and their longest stretch away from Miller Park is an eight games in nine days trip through Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis



Rockies Brewers
Friday August 3 3 5
Saturday August 4 4 8
Sunday August 5 5 4


Jesus Aguilar went 0-6 with three walks in the weekend series against Colorado. That slide continues his post All-Star Game slump in which he has seven hits in fifty at bats,including ten walks and four extra base hits in that span, with thirteen strikeouts. I took a look at Aguilar’s hot start late in April and noted that he’d improved his contact rate to 78.7 percent and lowered his swinging strike rate down to 21.3 percent, another career best. As the season has progressed, those numbers have fallen more in line with his career numbers, as his contact rate is now 70.1 percent (career 69.9 percent) and swinging strike rate has risen to 29.3 percent (career rate of 31.2 percent).


It looks like pitchers have made an adjustment in their approach to Aguilar. Before the All-Star break, pitchers looked to keep the ball in the lower portion of the strike zone, but the only area they attacked with a particular emphasis was the low and away pitch. Since July 20 there has been a clear game plan against Aguilar, and it’s a steady diet of pitches at or below the bottom of the strike zone. His swing rate on pitches in the bottom two levels of his zone profile haven’t changed much. He swung at 40.3 percent of those pitches before the All-Star break and that rate has risen to 40.8 percent since then.


Here are Aguilar’s swing and miss numbers on those particular pitches:


Whiff Rate Whiffs Per Swing
Pre All-Star Break 16% 39.8%
Post All-Star Break 19.7% 48.3%


We’re looking at a small sample size here (757 pitches pre-July 20 and only 142 pitches since), but there has been more swinging and missing in this area as pitchers have increasingly attacked this portion of the zone. In the first few months of the season, Aguilar did turn on some of these lower pitches which were on the inside half of the plate, but he’s done nothing on these pitches recently.


Even with this recent turn of fortunes, Aguilar still has a career high .325 True Average (TAv) and this slump consists of two weeks of games. It does seem like Aguilar could tighten up his approach and start laying off more of those low pitches, in particular the ones out of the strike zone. His numbers on those pitches weren’t pretty before the All-Star break, but that’s a matter of pitch recognition. It’d take another few weeks of struggles before fans should be worrying about Aguilar.



Mike Moustakas started Sunday’s 9th inning rally with a home run off Adam Ottavino. It was his first home run since joining the team and 21st of the season. Moustakas hit the homer off Ottavino’s slider. When Ottavino throws the slider, he’s looking to get it inside and low on a left handed hitter like Moustakas, which is an area where Moustakas struggles to drive the ball. However, this particular slider didn’t have enough break, and Moustakas drilled the pitch.


Moustakas was acquired to lengthen the lineup as his .271 TAv while in Kansas City this season would rank 7th among Brewers position players on the roster. He’s not your stereotypical 2018 hitter: he’s consistently walked and struck out below the MLB average while making contact more than your average batsman. Looking at his Statcast numbers, Moustakas is hitting the ball on the barrel at a career high rate this season and his expected batting average (.282) and slugging percentage (.514) are well ahead of his actual numbers (.248 and .455), which indicates that Moustakas may produce more over the second half of the season if his underlying performance stays the same.


The most obvious areas where he’s struggled relative to his career numbers in 2018 are against changeups. He’s swinging and missing at those pitches more frequently than in past seasons.


Batting Average Slugging Percentage
Pre-2018 .255 .488
2018 .154 .346


Based on the larger sample of his pre-2018 matchups, this is another potential path to improved numbers for Moustakas.


With the deadline acquisitions, Craig Counsell has a plethora of options at his disposal when making out the lineup card. Moustakas has been a regular starter since he arrived in Milwaukee, and the team likely believes he can get himself back to last year’s power numbers. If he continues to struggle, then there is enough versatility on the roster to limit Moustakas’ starts and plate appearances to situations where he’s likely to succeed, which profiles as a fastball heavy right-handed pitcher.



Today is the Brewers’ first day off since the All-Star break ended. On Tuesday, they’ll begin a three game series with San Diego and then the team spends the weekend playing the Braves in Georgia. The Padres have the worst record in the National League and were 28th in the last Prospectus Hit List. They’ve produced the lowest team TAv and are tied for 20th in team DRA, yet they’ve actually outplayed their Pythagorean over/under by 2.7 games, which is 6th in MLB. The Brewers took three of four games from Atlanta in early July, which was right before the team wide losing skid started. The Braves are a top five team in both TAv and DRA. Only Houston and Cleveland are also top five teams in both categories.


Padres Brewers
Tuesday August 7 Clayton Richard (4.77 DRA) Chase Anderson (5.07 DRA)
Wednesday August 8 Brett Kennedy (Debut) Jhoulys Chacin (4.78 DRA)
Thursday August 9 Robbie Erlin (2.71 DRA) Junior Guerra (5.12 DRA)



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