What Milwaukee’s Brewing: Streaky Shine & Return to Wrigley



By: Melissa S. Wollering

Generic Windex has nothing on the absurd streaks of the Milwaukee Brewers. Dave Bush fill-in Mike Burns says Cy Young means squat after outpitching Johan Santana, former Cub Casey McGehee gets his first Grand Slam in the majors and Fielder and Braun give us a glimpse of what the Home Run Derby could look like—all in one week. Plus, the prime window to acquire another starting pitcher narrows as the Milwaukee Brewers head south to play the Chicago Cubs this Independence Day weekend.

The phrase ‘atop the NL Central’ still baffles me, but several solid performances, including games on Saturday and Wednesday, restored a bit of the confidence the Milwaukee Brewers lost last week. 

Imagine making 48 appearances for four different teams in the majors before collecting one W for your record. Enter Mike Burns.  He has to pitch against Johan Santana then watch David Wright smack a two-run homer in his first inning out. That smells of the same fear gatorade dispensers have for Carlos Zambrano. So how, or better yet, who gives Mike the confidence he needs to last through six-plus innings?

Ryan Braun.  This question-answer game should start to look familiar by now, o-wise-avid team leadership-tidbit-seekers. Ryan Braun produces 3 hits for 4 runs and pretends third base is a slip-n-slide during a Santana error that allows him to score. Back from that early deficit, Burns goes onto last longer than Doublemint gum. Corey Hart had 3 hits, Prince Fielder goes yard in the 7th for insurance and his 20th homer of the season, Johan sprinkles in some walks, too and there’s your shocking Mike Burns win.

Burns is the Dave Bush replacement until that minor tear in Bush’s arm heals.  He has a tendency to walk the first hitter, then settles down and starts throwing first-pitch strikes. Burns threw 66 strikes, 29 balls and 16 first-pitch strikes.

Shall we do the math? Throwing first-pitch strikes forces more swinging of the bat, equating to 10 outs in three pitches or less. More than half of Burns’ curve balls, fastballs, sliders and change-ups are all strikes. Is he working for the Milwaukee Brewers right now?  You bet he is.

Nevertheless, we’re approaching July 3rd.  In my opinion, this was a target date for Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio to tell us they’ve acquired a new starting pitcher.  Think about it.  We’re about to head south on I-94 to play the Cubs, we’re minus Dave Bush and Manny Parra in our rotation. There’s plenty of time to find one, but this would’ve been my first “date-to-watch-for” on the calendar. Names still popping up: Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn and Doug Davis.  Yes, former Brewer Doug Davis.  I don’t know about that.

Mariners Angels Baseball
Did you know Jarrod Washburn is from La Crosse and went to UW-Oshkosh? Erik Bedard is from Canada, so a July 1st acquisition would be easy to remember along with his national holiday.

Can we please talk Casey McGehee?  His bat is so hot the Kool-Aid Man suffered heatstroke. Wisconsin’s dairy farmers say McGehee’s so hot that their cows have only produced evaporated milk in June.

In more than 115 plate appearances this season, McGehee is hitting .325 with a .388 OBP and .544 slugging (.931 OPS).  He’s not the Savior, but he might be contributing more than anyone in the lineup since the departure of Rickie Weeks.  His defense is solid, too, considering he played exactly 7 games at second base in the minors and zero in the majors before this season.
More fun with production numbers: 73/274.  That’s the combined home runs and RBI’s Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are on pace for this season. Can you say the new Brewers’ pet dinosaur is the Thatsalottorunsasaurus? The homer record for teammates is 115 set by Maris & Mantle in 1961.  Oh, I love history.

History also proves though that if you want to beat the Brewers, just debut a new pitcher against them. The Brewers have lost all 4 of the last 4 games facing a newbie including Sadowski on Sunday, Figaro on June 20, Hanson (no decision, but Atlanta won June 7) and Swarzak on May 23. Yep, that’s right Peter and Palmer.

In “Just a Bit Outside,” Miller Park isn’t perfect as a full-fledged shadow investigation is underway. No lie.  During a day game, shadows are distracting players by the 4th inning. It happens during evening games to a lesser extent as well. Last Thursday against the Twins, Prince Fielder was asked what kind of pitch he homered off of.  Turns out he hit the ball blind, didn’t even know if he’d make contact. When asked what should be done about the lighting situation, Prince responded, “I don’t know. I just work here.”

In “Down on the Farm,” my 25-man fantasy roster, complete with minor-league player Jeremy Jeffress, continues to produce pigs for slaughtering. Jeffress was handed a 100-game suspension for testing positive for a “drug of abuse.” He wasn’t doing well anyway and was demoted earlier in the season. Once thought of as a potential legacy pitcher, his problem with Mary Jane appears to be giving Tom Petty a better shot of pitching for the Crew in the coming years.

Speaking of the farm, don’t expect Manny Parra to return to the big leagues any time soon.  He took a huge step back Sunday giving up 5 hits, 5 BB’s and 7 runs (6 earned) in less than 5 innings.  Gross.

In “Around the NL Central,” dang you St. Louis for getting Mark DeRosa. I love DeRosa and believe he would’ve been a solid veteran investment. I’ve been saying it all season. At least Doug Melvin went after him.  The bad news is Cleveland wanted young pitching prospects, which by reading above you can see WE DON’T FRIGGIN HAVE.

In “Friendly Fire With the Cubs,” whenever I’m feeling down, at least I’m not feeling Cubbie Blue over Milton Bradley. Consider this when you need a pick-me-up: this season Milt has been ejected, ticked-off an ump for a suspension, decided to flush his productivity down a toilet, threw a ball into the stand with two outs, blew up at his manager and prompted Pinella to ask Milt to physically remove his jersey. Feeling better? Wait…Bradley isn’t likely to go anywhere for two more years.  Oh, now you feel on the northside.

And finally in “Chart Magnificence,” I started watching the Live Win Probability Charts change before my eyes each inning on Fan Graphs.  I’m told that by taking the MLB data and plugging into some crazy html algorithms, you get auto-refresh graphs like this one. When they change before your eyes, you just FEEL smarter.

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  1. paulmbanks says

    “missing Manny Parra” can those words actually go together? “I heard you’ve been missing Manny Parra” “well, I wouldn’t say Ive been missing him”

    Love that the charts are back! I feel much much smarter

  2. Wolley,

    Let me present you with the Sham-WOW! The Sham-WOW cleans up any mess without wasting money. It gets the stain out from underneath the surface without the old, moldy smell. Enter, the Brewers bullpen. Ketchup, beer, bases-loaded no one out, red wine, back to back errors, gatorade, and secret sauce – they got you covered. Worth mentioning today because rumors include Backe from Houston. Instead of throwing our money away on paper towels, why don’t we apply preventive maintenence first? Not even “Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.” or “Kurt Warner bagged groceries” wants to see Washburn or Bedard in Cream City. Leave no streaks behind! But really, the only people who truly care about streaks are the ones who were actually alive in 1908. But it’s cool because I know a guy whose uncle’s brother-in-law’s grandson’s neighbor that he works with is a Cubs fan, so he can be too.

    I am not kool with the fact that you posted the picture of Pablo Sandoval rounding the bases after his home run at Miller Park. Los Gigantes should be replaced with El Gorditos! (The little Fat Ones)

    The only thing the Gatorade machine smells in the confines of the clubhouse is the burnt lettuce from Geo’s Under Armor stash. Not even Doublemint will cover the ganja smell from Fat Lou. As slow as he walks… you know he hits the hooka.

    Last, I am proud to say I have been on the McGehee bandwagon since it left Maryvale. However, I too begged for a DeRosa deal after Rickie’s big start and fast demise. Now… after going 0 for his first 9, AND following in Rickie Weeks’ knuckle-children tunnel syndrome, I’m happy we avoided the headache! (at least for now)

    For now, lets hope Manny can be Manny, Bradley keeps being Bradly, and “a top the NL Central” carries more weight to it than a Taco Johns run by Lou and Geo after hittin the grass. Mmmm, Ole’s….

  3. One last thing… that freaking chart…??? What the hell. GM and Chrysler think your on to something here!

  4. Melissa W. says

    Haha, thanks Ronny! Awesome comments and completely noted! Shamwow is great here because I have this feeling ANY pitching aquisition runs the risk of being a complete WASH. Ugly is what I have to say about Derrick Lee and the Cubs. Ugly refers to the McClung Like a Horse nasty pitching and the NO better Smith outing. We need help, can you pitch for us Ronny?

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