Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Milwaukee Brewers: Will They Repeat What the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals Did? - Bleacher Report

As of September 19, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were 12-5 and were in second place in the NL Central, 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the division race.

The Brewers would go on to win the division, but the Cardinals made a strong enough push to win the National League wild-card berth.

They slugged it out with the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL divisional round, taking the series in five games. Then, they moved on to take the National League Championship Series from the Brewers in six games.

In what was arguably one of the most entertaining and memorable World Series matchups in years, the Cards would win it all in seven games.

At this time last year, nobody gave them a chance.

The Brewers are in the exact same position right now.

As it stands today, the Brew Crew is 12-4 on the month of September. Yes, they are 13.5 games out of the division, but with the addition of a second Wild Card this season, they find themselves just 2.5 games out of postseason play.

Of course, they would need to jump the Los Angeles Dodgers and, you guessed it, the St. Louis Cardinals to get there.

The Cardinals of 2011 had a much easier schedule on their way to October last season. They only had to play the New York Mets, who were 73-80, the Chicago Cubs, who were 67-86, and the Houston Astros, who were 52-100.

Hi-res-152333841_crop_exactJoe Sargent/Getty Images

The Brewers of 2012 have a much tougher road ahead.

They still have games left against the 74-73 Pittsburgh Pirates (who trail them in the wild-card race by just 1.0 game), the 89-57 Washington Nationals and the 89-59 Cincinnati Reds before hosting the 48-100 Houston Astros and 71-70 San Diego Padres.

Yes, the final two series of the year should be there for the taking. However, having to face the two best teams in the National League back to back can hurt them long term.

That said, the Brewers have been playing extremely hot baseball.

In their last 10 games, they have gone 8-2 and have won three straightâ€"five of those victories coming against the Cardinals and including a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, a team that leads the NL wild-card race.

As a team, the Brewers' 707 runs scored this season leads the National League, as does their 184 home runs. The offense hasn't been the issue, but it seems as though the Brewers are trying to slug their way into the postseason.

Ryan Braun has been playing out of his mind. Over the last 30 days, he owns a .349 batting average and leads the NL with a 1.048 OPS.

He's been leading by example, crushing seven home runs, making him the first player in the NL with 40 or more bombs this season, adding 21 RBI and stealing seven bases.

In other words, he is willing his team to victory, as any leader should.

While it is far too early to tell how everything is going to play out, what we can be sure of is a fantastic finish to the 2012 Major League Baseball season, one that promises to have a few surprises still to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MLB: Why Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder Ryan Braun Is NL MVP - Bleacher Report

There's a certain stigma attached to Ryan Braun's name following last year's PED controversy, however, that shouldn't stop the writers from giving him a much deserved, second straight NL MVP Award.

Now before you jump to conclusions, I'm a Reds fan and have no bias favoring Braun. The fact of the matter is that Braun's numbers are far and above every other player in the National League.

In 139 games, Braun is batting .312/.387/.602/.989 with 40 HR, 103 RBI, 95 runs, 30 doubles and 24 steals.

According to ESPN's projections, Braun is expected to finish the year at .312/.387/.602 with 44 HR, 114 RBI, 105 runs 33 doubles and 26 steals. If by some miracle Braun steals six bases between now and the end of the season, he'll be just the 11th player in in MLB history to reach the 40-30 mark.

Braun's numbers truly speak for themselves. His 40 home runs give him a commanding lead in the National League, while his 95 runs, 103 RBI and .312 batting average are good for second, second and fifth respectively.

Braun's 103 RBI are second only to Chase Headley's mark of 104. Additionally, when MVP voting begins, Braun's .312 batting average will likely be viewed as fourth best considering the fact that suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera leads the National League.

Who will win the 2012 NL MVP Award?

Who will win the 2012 NL MVP Award?

  • Ryan Braun

  • Andrew McCutchen

  • Buster Posey

  • Other

Braun could easily lead two of the three Triple Crown categories by the time the season ends and that won't go unnoticed.

In addition to the basic slash line, RBI and home run totals, Braun's .602 slugging percentage, and .989 OPS are both NL bests.

Though it's lower than the value he posted last year, Braun's 6.5 WAR is just .02 behind the NL leader Andrew McCutchen. He and McCutchen are also tied for the NL lead in runs created at 126, giving them a sizable 19 run lead over Buster Posey's 107.

Braun isn't just an offensive juggernaut though, his 2.8 defensive WAR is good for second behind Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Although it doesn't make a huge difference to writers, whose decisions are based largely around offensive performance, it is worth noting.

Perhaps what's most impressive about Braun's 2012 campaign is that he's produced these numbers without the protection of Prince Fielder. Many people, including myself, wondered and/or doubted whether Braun could produce equally impressive numbers without Fielder.

Those doubts were quickly stifled in 2012.

Although Braun was caught using PEDs last season, the test was thrown out due to a handler's error. There's no doubt that Braun's name and performance carries a stigma, but it's hard to believe that if he was using this season, he wouldn't get caught.

What's really helping Braun's case is his team's performance down the late-season stretch. The Brewers have won 20 of their last 26 games and find themselves just 2.5 games behind the second NL Wild Card spot.

The Brewers being in the playoff hunt, puts the spotlight on Braun and his impressive season. However, he really deserves the award no matter how the Brewers finish in 2012.

Need your own proof? Take a look at Baseball-Reference's listing of the National League batting leaders.

Milwaukee Brewers Lineup Against Pittsburgh Pirates, September 18 - Rant Sports


The Milwaukee Brewers (74-72) will face the Pittsburgh Pirates (74-72) in a critical three-game series that will directly affect who still has a shot at the postseason and who will be realistically out of contention with 13 games left to play. Both teams are currently 2.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals (77-70) with 16 to play.

Milwaukee has been sensational over their last 10 games winning seven of them, including a sweep of the Atlanta Braves and a series win over St. Louis. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has lost eight of their last 10 games while falling apart in the crucial weeks of the season. There is no question this is going to be a wild series filled with excitement and drama.

The following is the Brewers starting lineup against the Pirates for Tuesday night:

Right Field: Norichika Aoki
Second Base: Rickie Weeks
Left Field: Ryan Braun
Third Base: Aramis Ramirez
Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy
First Base: Travis Ishikawa
Center Field: Carlos Gomez
Shortstop: Jean Segura
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo

Ace Yovani Gallardo will face off against Pittsburgh’s ace A.J. Burnett to jump start the series. Gallardo is 7-0 with a 2.98 ERA in nine starts since Zack Greinke was traded, while he also leads the majors in quality starts with 24. Milwaukee will be looking to win their 10th straight game with him on the mound.

Ryan Braun will look to continue his hot streak after hitting his 200th and 201st career home runs against the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. Braun has seven hits, two homers, and three RBIs in his last four games. If the Brewers want to keep winning, they will need him to lead the charge.

Norichika Aoki is another player the Brewers need to keep playing well if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Aoki currently has a hit in his last seven games and is batting .297 with six RBIs over that span. He has been outstanding for Milwaukee this year and looks to be getting even better as the season progresses.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

Yunel Escobar and Equality In Baseball - Reviewing the Brew

This article contains some language that might be â€" that should be â€" seen as offensive.

This article has very little to do with the Milwaukee Brewers. This has to do with a lot more pressing issues than the Wild Card Race. This has something to do with more than just baseball.

Yunel Escobar, as has been reported quite widely, was spotted over the weekend with eye black that contained on it a homophobic slur written in Spanish. The message was “Tu Ere Maricon”, translated loosely to “You are a faggot,” or a similar derivative in Spanish slang depending on the source.

Word came down today that the offending eye black has cost Escobar three games. In my mind â€" and hopefully the minds of others â€" a small price to pay.

The real issue is that the blame shouldn’t fall squarely on Escobar’s shoulders â€" there is an entire institution at fault here.

I’m positive that Yunel Escobar didn’t think he was offending anyone with his eye black. And that’s exactly the problem. (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

I was going to be careful about my word choice here, but doing so would be doing a disservice to the larger issue. I don’t care what your views on homosexuality are. I don’t care what religious or sociological background comes in to play here. I don’t care that “you can hear worse in schools” or “they say worse stuff in the locker room”. Why does that make it right? How is that even an argument? This is flat-out wrong.

Everyone knows what the term ‘faggot’ is referring to here. Everyone has heard it â€" most of us have even said it â€" and we knew it was wrong and disparaging the entire time. We know that it’s alienating and hurtful to a group of people that, whether you choose to believe it or not, are struggling to gain acceptance and normalcy every day. You can’t tell me that no other Toronto Blue Jays player knew what Yunel Escobar had written on his eye black, or didn’t see it ‘until it was too late.’ How did he get out of the clubhouse like that?

It was â€" it had to be â€" a series of blind eyes turned towards Escobar for the sake of an inside joke or out of pure ignorance to what was going on. Escobar got off light, but that’s nothing compared with the complicit ignorance of the rest of the players involved.

It’s not a stretch to assume that someone on that field might be closeted, or that at least one of the players had gay friends or family members. It doesn’t take much to tell Yunel to take off the eye black â€" to remind him that people of all walks of life are baseball fans, to remind him that isn’t something that professional athletes should do.

Hell, this isn’t something that decenthuman beingsshould do.

I understand that there is a right to free speech in this country but there is no need for that speech to defame an entire part of society for no reason other than pure prejudice. A grown man and public figure ought to be able to realize that. And the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball had a great chance to bring that message home, and instead they quickly got rid of the issue.

There was a two-day ‘investigation’, a short press conference, and a three-game suspension. Time to move on, right? Tell that to the kids around the country right now struggling with their sexuality. Even a few of them might just grow up to be professional baseball players. Is this the league they want to be a part of?

Baseball, since closing the book on the era of racial segregation, has done an admirable job at honoring the diversity of the National Pastime from a racial standpoint as well as highlighting how important inclusion has been to the game. Do we really have to wait decades before we can have a frank discussion about sexuality in sports? Do we really need to brush aside incidents like this until we have an openly gay baseball player? Could it be that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have openly gay baseball players because baseball is in large part admitting they’re not ready for that discussion?

I think that this incident proves it. The Toronto Blue Jays and Yunel Escobar said all the right things and are giving money to all the right places in the aftermath of the eye black incident. That doesn’t mean they are doing the right thing.

The right thing is what the San Fransisco Forty-Niners did â€" coming out in support of the LGBT community without PR pressure. The same goes for the leagues of NHL players who contributed to the “It Gets Better” campaign, as well.

The right thing to do is to stand in defiance of incidents like this and make sure you send a message that things like this won’t happen again â€" a three game suspension does NOT send that message.

The right thing to do is to lead the way to make sure that everyone â€" and I mean EVERYONE â€" has a chance to enjoy and participate in America’s Pastime without the fear of discrimination, bigotry, and exclusion.

In my opinion, and hopefully the opinions of others, Major League Baseball swung and missed on this one.

Tags: Toronto Blue Jays, Yunel Escobar

Principally Speaking, Pirates' And Brewers' Seasons On Line Tuesday Night - Baseball Nation

Carlos Gomez of the Milwaukee Brewers steals third base against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

The Pirates and Brewers are both still hanging around the National League Wild Card race, but just barely. Which makes their series this week so vitally important to each club.

Sep 18, 2012 - Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers kick off a three-game series in Pittsburgh. Whoever wins the opener is still in the hunt for a postseason berth, whoever loses is essentially dead, and if you predicted this state of affairs when looking at the schedule last winter you're entitled to a kewpie doll.

Why is this game so important? Because the Pirates and Brewers are tied in the Wild Card standings, and after this series only one of them (at most) can still be standing. Here's how this thing breaks down ...

First Principle: The Pirates are just as good as the Brewers. Based on underlying performances and abilities, the Brewers are probably four or five games better than the Pirates. But at this point in the season, a four- or five-game difference is almost exactly the same as zero difference.

Second Principle: Forget about the Dodgers. For the Brewers or Pirates to have a real shot, both the Cardinals and the Dodgers have to play somewhat poorly the rest of the way. The Cardinals are loaded, and the better club to boot. The Dodgers are missing their two best starting pitchers. That doesn't necessarily mean they won't play well, but if you're pulling for the Brew Crew or the Buccos, you have to take some things on faith. And this is among the easiest.

Third Principle: Assuming Second Principle, it follows that Cardinals are the team to beat. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are pretty good and they've got that pesky 2½-games lead over the Brewers and Bucs. At this point in the season, 2½. Yes, it can disappear in 72 hours. But it can also turn into the Blob in 72 hours, and leave its foes quivering in despair. What's more likely, of course, is neither. What's more likely is that 72 hours later, it's still 2½ or maybe 3½, which doesn't help at all.

Fourth Principle: Every game is precious. There aren't any must-win games, yet. But there are some probably-should-win games, and they start tonight for both teams.

Now, putting all those together, we then assume ...

The Brewers and Pirates need some help from the Cardinals and the teams playing the Cardinals. Unfortunately for the Brewers and the Pirates, they don't get to help themselves on this score, as neither has any games left against the Cardinals, who play (in order) three games against the Astros, three games in Chicago, three games in Houston, three games against the Nationals, and three games against the Reds.

Not a lot of obvious help there. Frankly, what's most likely is that the Cardinals absolutely clean up against the Astros and Cubs, winning six or seven of those nine games. Which would make things exceptionally difficult for any challengers. Yes, they also finish with six games against first-place teams ... but those first-place teams will have clinched their division titles, and might well be resting some of their best players. Gotta figure Cardinals win four of those six games, if they still need to. So that's 10 wins in their last 15 games. Yikes. That won't do at all.

But that's why the Brewers or Pirates need to sweep their series against one another this week; just winning two of three won't be a real victory at all. The Brewers finish with four games in Washington, three in Cincinnati, and finally three at home against the Astros and three more against the Padres. Those first seven are going to be a bitch, with neither Nationals nor the Reds in full tune-up mode yet. The Pirates finish with three games in Houston, four in New York, then three at home against the Reds and three more against the Braves. In contrast, the Pirates should benefit somewhat from their tough competition looking ahead to the postseason. Which is why I like the Pirates' chances just slightly more than the Brewers'.

None of that math will probably matter much, though. Not if the Cardinals do what they should do.

What's going to happen in this series?

Do you like this post?


Rob Neyer

National Baseball Editor

Rob Neyer began his career with legendary baseball author Bill James, and later worked for STATS, Inc. and, writing more words for that website than anyone else. Rob has written or... Read full bio

Milwaukee Brewers Series Six-Pack With Reviewing the Brew - Rum Bunter

I think the Pirates keeping their eyes open might be the key

Where did this Brewers surge come from?

It’s hard to say where a run like this comes from â€" early in the season, we could see the talent that the team had but it was just a matter of time as to when they could actually put it together. Believe me, we’re loving the ride right now but we would always rather take a division lead.

Ryan Braun drives me insane, we’ve developed quite a dislike, but damn if he was a Pittsburgh Pirates player all of my friends agree, we would love him. So do you think he can carry the Brew Crew to the post season?

I think he’s doing everything he can to down the stretch. It doesn’t look like he’s slowing down, but he’s certainly going to need a lot help to make that happen. As a side note, we didn’t see how you would hate him â€" except for the t-shirt company, last year’s haircut, and the fact that he beats down the Pirates every time he sees them.

Did you agree with trading Zack Grienke?

I didn’t right away, but the deal grew on me. We got three top-level prospects, and Zack got a chance to move to a contender. Of course, he ended up about the same, except he doesn’t get to bat now. I guess it was a wash.

So tell us the truth, did you remain faithful to Rickie Weeks?

-Nope. I don’t care for him. I find him too fragile, emotionally unstable, and even though he has his moments â€" he is not what I’m looking for in a long-term partner.

You get to pick one to drink a couple cases of beer with over the course of a wild night in Milwaukee. Do you pick A) Ryan Braun B) Norichika Aoki C) Tony Plush D) Other

-Oh man, There are so many to chose from. As much as I’d love to try and out-crazy Plush, I think I take Ryan Braun â€" we start by poppin’ bottles at his restaurant in Milwaukee. Than it’s clubbing to the break of dawn, wearing matching t-shirts, and bro-ing out hardcore. I can’t wait.

Series prediction?

-Brewers take two, but it’s close the whole way. Kind of.

Be sure to keep up to date with all the latest on the Pittsburgh Pirates and RumBunter by liking our Facebook page. You can also follows us on Twitter @RumBunter and @RumBunter/team-rumbunter/members.

Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates

Milwaukee Brewers (74-72) at Pittsburgh Pirates (74-72), 7:05 pm (ET) - News & Observer

A pair of 15-game winners square off tonight when Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers visit A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.

The Pirates and Brewers are all even in the National League Central Division standings and are vying to remain in the running for the second of two NL wild card playoff berths.

The teams are tied for third in the Central and 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the last of the pair of wild card spots.

Milwaukee's Gallardo enters the game with a nine-start unbeaten streak that stretches back to July 26, when he dropped an 8-2 decision to Washington.

He's 7-0 in the subsequent outings, in which he's allowed two earned runs or less in eight of the nine games and pitched at least seven innings seven times.

The Brewers have won each of his last nine starts, outscoring their foes, 59-26.

Gallardo is 8-2 lifetime against the Pirates in 14 appearances and last faced them on Sept. 2, getting a no-decision after allowing 11 hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The Pirates reply with skidding righty A.J. Burnett, who's not won since Aug. 16 - a stretch of five starts.

The 35-year-old Arkansas native was 15-4 on the season after a 10-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has since gone 0-3 in five tries while his ERA has climbed slightly from 3.54 to 3.66.

He's been beaten by St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati in the stretch, while getting no-decisions against San Diego and Milwaukee, allowing two hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings of the latter outing.

Pittsburgh is 4-6 in his last 10 starts.

On Monday in Chicago, Starling Marte drove in two runs, Kevin Correia pitched seven scoreless innings and the Pirates defeated the Cubs, 3-0, to take the finale of a four-game set.

The game was delayed for three hours and thirty-seven minutes due to rain.

Winning for the ninth time in his last 12 decisions, Correia (11-9) pitched valiantly, giving up just two hits while striking out six.

Joel Hanrahan tossed a scoreless ninth to notch his 36th save of the season.

On Sunday in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit two homers, Wily Peralta pitched eight shutout innings and John Axford closed it out in the ninth as the Brewers blanked the New York Mets 3-0 to take the rubber match of a three-game set.

Braun's second homer was his 40th of the season, marking the first time in his career that he has reached the plateau.

The Brewers won for the 20th time in their last 26 games.

The Mets managed only two hits, both off of Peralta (2-0), who made just the third start of his career. He fanned five and walked only one.

"He had a good 96 mph fastball and a good sinker," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He kept the ball down in the zone and had a good slider with great command."

Milwaukee won eight of the first 12 games between the teams this season, including a sweep of a three-game set at Miller Park from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The Brewers won 12 of 15 games in the 2011 series.