In an expected though no less unfortunate move, the Milwaukee Brewers officially placed relief pitcher Jim Henderson on the 15-day Disabled List following Saturday afternoon’s game.
Henderson, who is nine-for-nine in Save opportunities this season, was pitching in Friday night’s game when he strained his right hamstring on a pitch. The play resulted in the second out of the top of the ninth inning but with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead and seeing their first victory of the season when they scored three or fewer runs, Henderson could not physically continue.
Manager Ron Roenicke called on the recently added Francisco Rodriguez to face Neil Walker in an attempt to get the final out. Rodriguez induced a ground ball to the second baseman and the Brewers won the day. For Rodriguez it was his first Save of the year and the 295th of his MLB career.
After Friday’s game, Henderson spoke to the media and felt that he might be ready to go after a few days of rest but Roenicke countered by saying that Henderson would see the doc and they’d make their decision based on roster considerations as well as health. In other words, the Brewers couldn’t afford to carry another down pitcher if Henderson was going to miss even a handful of games.
The doctor made his diagnosis and recommendation on Saturday afternoon. With no time to get a replacement to town, and with a decision still to be made on who that would be anyway, the Brewers waited until Saturday night to DL their current closer.
So who comes up from the minor leagues for Sunday’s afternoon affair? Well, that all depends.
Do the Brewers just call up their choice for Tuesday’s starting pitcher? Do they summon a reliever for two days and exchange him for that same starter after Monday’s game? Or will Alfredo Figaro start on Tuesday so a relief pitcher can come up and just stay through until later in the week?
It’d be easier to know what they are going to do if we knew who was coming, but they’re probably deciding on what before they pick who.
If they go get a starter, I’d still expect it to be Tyler Thornburg despite his early season struggles with Triple-A Nashville. Thornburg would be the least affected by the situation, methinks. Furthermore, his next turn is scheduled for Monday so he’d be on close-to-regular rest.
If they choose to summon a bullpen arm, the two names I’d watch for are Jesus Sanchez and Michael Olmsted. Sanchez has solid numbers so far for Nashville which works in his favor. Olmsted was the darling of Spring Training and one of the final cuts from camp.
That announcement will come prior to Sunday’s game though so keep it tuned to your favorite fan blogger (or me, if they’re unavailable) for all the details in the morning.
The Brewers just announced that LHP Tom Gorzelanny has been reinstated from the 15-day Disabled List in advance of tonight’s series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.
Gorzelanny was placed on the DL back on May 11th (retroactive to May 8th) with left shoulder tendinitis. He threw live batting practice earlier in the week and was given the green light by the team’s medical staff.
The bullpen has performed very well these last two weeks despite their overabundance of innings pitched. That wasn’t because they lost Gorzelanny though. Far from it.
When he was placed on the DL, Gorzelanny sported a 2.30 ERA in 15.2 IP across 18 games. His 0.894 WHIP is very, very good and his 177 ERA+ illustrates how much better he’s been than your average pitcher so far.
He’s also tallied a Win in relief to go along with six Holds. He did have one Blown Save (against the Cardinals) which came three appearances before his injury was revealed but it likely wasn’t a factor at that time.
But there are only 25 spots on a 25-man roster (aptly name, right?) so as with any activation someone has to be moved out. That someone is Hiram Burgos who was placed on the disabled list with a “right shoulder impingement”.
The Brewers are technically carrying only seven bullpen arms with Mike Fiers officially being tapped to start on Saturday, but their also carrying a useless body on the active roster as well. Still, they’re already short on the bench so obviously someone had to go from the pitching staff. If Lohse does only miss one start then Fiers can simply remain in the rotation for the time being or they can go get a spot starter for Tuesday.
Burgos has a bright future still but his present will benefit from a bit of a reset.
That will produce a need for a starter on Tuesday against Minnesota. (Wily Peralta will just go on normal rest on Monday.) Roenicke thinks they’ll fill the start from the current roster which means that it’s likely a “bullpen game”. In that scenario, it makes the most sense to start Alfredo Figaro and fill in thereafter as needed.
Kyle Lohse, assuming he can get back to work next week, was originally penciled in for Thursday which is the next day his rotation spot would come up. Chris Narveson likely won’t be ready by then either, for what it’s worth, as he’ll reportedly be sent on rehab before being activated, assuming he’s healthy by then.
If only because we’ve had a day off to hopefully unwind, here’s a recap of what we learned this week as it relates to the roster, lineup, rotation and injuries…
Playing it safe
Kyle Lohse was officially scratched from his next scheduled start with what was described as “elbow irritation” by the team. They said it was minor, that they aren’t worried and that Lohse is penciled in to make a start against Minnesota next week. However, and understandably regardless of what they said, Lohse underwent a precautionary MRI to determine whether there was any structural damage to the elbow. It was reported that the elbow is “structurally sound” but that the areas of inflammation causing the irritation are not to be messed with. So after pitching with this ailment for a couple of starts, rest has become a necessity. Lohse has been the Brewers best starting pitcher so far this season. Whatever it takes to get him back on the field quickly must be done. After all, they can’t afford (financially or performance-wise) for things to get to the worst-case scenario.
Back on the front burner
As for the short term, that missed start — Saturday against the Pirates — will be made instead by Mike Fiers. Fiers has pitched in relief since rejoining the Brewers almost two weeks ago but was starting down in the minors after having been optioned due to ineffectiveness. Fiers began the season in Milwaukee’s rotation but was moved to the bullpen and eventually sent down after just one start. So much like last season, Fiers gets his second chance filling in for a pitcher with a balky elbow. Hopefully though Lohse will only miss one start unlike Shaun Marcum last year who missed many more than that.
Batting practice, running part of a Hart healthy diet
Speaking of missing a lot of time, we got an update on another Brewer on the comeback trail from injury, Corey Hart. Hart was recently cleared to run without restriction and began taking light batting practice and fielding grounders hit right at him. If he continues to respond well the target right now is for him to begin a rehab assignment in roughly 10 days from right now. It was also reported that Hart will make the next road trip with the Brewers to continue preparations for that assignment. It’ll be a long enough rehab stint to hopefully have Hart firing on all cylinders when he returns.
Injured southpaws on the mend
It was learned that Tom Gorzelanny threw live batting practice this week and could return to the roster as early as tonight. (Stay tuned!) The bullpen has been pitching very well lately despite his absence but before hitting the DL with shoulder tendinitis Gorzelanny was pitching key innings for manager Ron Roenicke.
Chris Narveson has also begun to throw as he rehabs the sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. Narveson may throw live batting practice prior to tonight’s game and be sent out on rehab assignment soon.
If you’re asking me, I’d be shocked if Narveson doesn’t ramp back up to start despite his initial role this season having been as a reliever. After all, the team said that part of the reason Narveson was in the bullpen to start the year was to limit his innings coming off of shoulder surgery. It’ll be mid-June before he’s back. He’s missed plenty of innings.
Fans Can Enter to Win One-of-a-Kind Prizes and Help Support the Brewers Community Foundation
The cliché “one of a kind…” is heard all too often, but the “2013 Milwaukee Brewers Ultimate Fan Experience” is something that would be next to impossible to replicate.
Through the sweepstakes, one lucky fan will be chosen to receive the following prize package:
- A Bob Uecker Game-Worn Sweater—a colorful, warm piece of history worn by a colorful man. The sweater comes complete with a Major League Baseball authentication hologram that shows Mr. Baseball wore the sweater during a Brewers radio broadcast this year.
- Yovani Gallardo’s Game-Worn 2013 Opening Day Jersey that was donned by the Brewers righthander for his fourth consecutive Opening Day start. The jersey is authenticated by Major League Baseball.
- Four Round-Trip Southwest Airlines Tickets to or from Milwaukee (any destination served by Southwest Airlines).
- Four Field Diamond Box Tickets to any 2013 Milwaukee Brewers regular season game at Miller Park.
- A Chance to Slide Down Bernie Brewer’s Slide along with three of your friends.
- Bob Uecker Meet and Greet – Your group of four will meet “Ueck” on the field during batting practice before a Brewers game at Miller Park. You will then be able to watch batting practice on the field and have your photo taken in the Brewers dugout.
- Your Own Bobblehead – The Brewers will create a bobblehead in your image and produce the item for your personal collection.
Sweepstakes tickets are just $1, and the more times you enter, the better chance of winning. Tickets will be available at Brewers.com/ultimatesweeps beginning today at 10 a.m. CT through Tuesday, June 11 at 10 a.m. CT. No purchase necessary. Entries are also accepted by writing to: Brewers Ultimate Fan Experience Sweepstakes, c/o Brewers Community Foundation, One Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214.
“We wanted to offer a package that was truly unique, and it all starts with an item like Ueck’s game-worn sweater,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We think this will be a very popular contest with an appeal to Brewers fans of all ages.”
The winning name will be drawn on or around Monday, June 17. Net proceeds from the sweepstakes will benefit the programs supported by the Brewers Community Foundation. For complete rules and more information, please visit Brewers.com/ultimatesweeps.
Following Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers formally announced a trio of roster moves.
First, it was stated again that Francisco Rodriguez would have his contract selected before tomorrow’s game. This move required two additional moves to open a spot on both the 40-man and 25-man rosters.
Taylor Green, who will miss the entire season following hip surgery, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list from the 15-day DL. This opened a spot on the 40-man.
As for the 25-man spot, C/1B Blake Lalli was optioned down to the Nashville Sounds. He’ll have a chance to play regularly and hopefully heat his bat back up.
Rodriguez will join a well-used but mostly effective bullpen to provide another arm to hopefully collect outs.
During his 30-day evaluation window, Rodriguez pitched in four games – two each for High-A Brevard County and Triple-A Nashville – where he combined to post a line of:
4.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 BB, 7 K
The work against Triple-A hitters was against mostly guys with big league experience, for what it’s worth.
Regardless though, after a tumultuous exit from Milwaukee, K-Rod is back. How he’ll be welcomed depends in no small part on how he pitches.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Brewers have decided to call up Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to the 25-man roster in advance of tonight’s game.
It was being widely reported that the team had until Thursday to decide but Heyman said that deadline was today in fact.
After pitching in consecutive games for the Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, we shouldn’t expect Rodriguez to be available tonight necessarily but Ron Roenicke has stated in the past that Rodriguez can go even four days in a row if he has to. Even still, I have to believe a hitter heads down to begin with.
This move has not yet been announced by the team nor obviously would the corresponding roster move have been.
***UPDATE: Ron Roenicke told the media before pregame warm-up that Rodriguez is en route and if he makes it in time to be active, then they’ll announce the corresponding roster move.
Said Roenicke: “Frankie is on his way here, and we’ll wait to see if he can get here by game time. If he gets here, we’ll make a move. If not, we’ll do it tomorrow.”
As for his performance on the field since signing, Roenicke said, “I don’t know if he’s quite back to where he was last year, but he’s 90, 91 (on the fastball). Changeup’s been very good. We’ll see.”***
- Roenicke quotes courtesy Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.
Catching up on some items I haven’t blogged about but had more to say about them than just tweeting the blurbs, and then some thoughts about tonight’s lineup in Pittsburgh and what its impact could be.
Cue the puns. Puns for the win!
Stoking the Fiers -or- Tom’s Not Feeling So Terrific
Mike Fiers was recalled from the minor leagues — where he had been optioned on April 18th — to fill a spot in the bullpen vacated by LHP Tom Gorzelanny who succumbed to shoulder tendinitis in his pitching arm. Gorzelanny has been working a lot so far this year as he has been used in everything from LOOGy-friendly spots to straight set up duties. Gorzelanny had pitched 18 times in the first 31 team games, including back-to-back days on four occasions, but never three-in-a-row.
Fiers came back amid a sad familial situation which was documented in numerous places (including here by Brewers.com’s Adam McCalvy) and needn’t be rehashed here, though you should read it if you haven’t already. Fiers returned to a bullpen in desperate need of some innings covereage after consecutive short starts by Yovani Gallardo and Hiram Burgos in Cincinnati. He was stretched back out in the minors pitching for both Nashville and Brevard County and offers immediate relief in the long-man division.
Gorzelanny’s injury leaves Michael Gonzalez as the lone healthy left-handed pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen, after they began the year with three (also Chris Narveson).
Konclusion Soon for K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez was signed to a minor-league contract back on April 17th (read more on that here) and, as part of the agreement, began a 30-day evaluation period after which the Brewers would have to make a determination on whether they will add him to the 25-man roster.
Well, that deadline is rapidly approaching and to that end, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is in Nashville tonight and tomorrow to watch K-Rod pitch. He’ll be looking for a return to something more closely resembling Rodriguez’ 2011 form rather than what he brought to the mound far too often in 2012.
The question though is simple. Can Rodriguez help this team win?
If he can, he’ll be here soon and then the decision is who heads back down to the minors. Given the situation, it wouldn’t shock me if it was Fiers so long as Figaro is rested between now and then and there are no more critically short starts between now and then. But in order to maintain length in the ‘pen and utilize options available, it could be Kintzler down for a short stint if necessary.
Braun and Weeks Sit, Probably Discuss Love, Life, Longballs
Ryan Braun is apparently dealing with a bit of a stiff neck again, similar to the injury that kept him out of the entire Arizona Diamondbacks series the first week of April. Though while it’s a similar injury, it’s not nearly to the severity now as it was then. Braun has been playing with it for a few games and just needed a day off to help rest it.
I would have to certainly hope he didn’t tweak it while helping several others in lifting a wall during a Habitat For Humanity “Blitz Build” event last week. Manager Ron Roenicke stated that Braun didn’t injure himself on the field though, so the charitable activity remains a possible cause.
As for Weeks, fans and media alike have been clamoring for Weeks to get (at least) a day to clear his head and hopefully allow him to get back to doing what his talent says he should be able to do. Weeks though is the kind of guy who will never go the manager and ask for a day off or accept if Roenicke offers a day off. Weeks told the media today that Roenicke has to just sit him if Roenicke thinks Weeks needs a break. Roenicke wanted to get Weeks out yesterday against long-time nemesis Bronson Arroyo but couldn’t. Weeks isn’t significantly better against A.J. Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh tonight, so it was another opportunity which Roenicke utilized.
Hopefully Weeks can make the most of it and break back out at the dish. In a pinch-hitting appearance tonight, Weeks struck out swinging off of a left-handed reliever.
As for filling out the lineup without Weeks and Braun, as I stated on my Monday segment on The Mike Heller Show on The Big 920 & The Big 1070 AM radio stations in Milwaukee and Madison, I liked moving Gomez up to 3 as it kept him in an RBI role. Beyond that, the bottom half of the lineup was a crapshoot. Betancourt and Lucroy both finished without a hit so the order mattered even less tonight than it otherwise would.
Still, the Brewers look to continue their success against Pittsburgh regardless of where they play as they work to get back into the win column and make something out of this road trip.
Thursday morning on a radio show in the Milwaukee market, one of the show’s hosts posed a question:
“Should I start to worry about Carlos Gomez and the year he’s having?”
This was a question meant to spark conversation about whether Carlos Gomez is only performing as well as he is because he must be taking a performance-enhancer of some kind.
Let me be quite clear with my blunt response and then I’ll go into detail and explanations.
It’s unfair and, frankly, incredibly lazy to have come anywhere near that conclusion.
Now they went out of their way to say that they aren’t making accusations and they aren’t trying to say he’s guilty of anything, but if a question of whether you need to be worried about Gomez’s performance because he can’t be doing this naturally isn’t accusatory…
His co-host said “Can I just say this? I think you think that Go Go is juicing.” After a long pause, his reply was “…….I don’t think Go Go is juicing. But It’s 2013 and the guy’s batting average has jumped 130 points.”
“Is there perhaps something going on with (Gomez)?”
“I’m not accusing him of using but come on…it’s gotta raise an eyebrow.”
“I hope he’s not. I don’t think he is. But it’s 2013.”
“I think you have to be (suspicious of him)!”
He then tries to justify his doubt which lends itself more toward the accusatory tone of the entire thing. His batting average is really high and way higher than his career mark. His on-base percentage is really high and way higher than his career mark. His slugging percentage is really high and…
You get the point.
The one thing that he said that is smart is that it is, in fact, 2013. The problem is that he misapplied what that means. To me it doesn’t mean that every player who does well must be subjected to the cloud of doubt. To me, it means that there is plenty of available statistical analysis to couple with other evidence to actually understand some legitimate reasons behind what appears to be a significant breakout.
First of all, let’s tackle the OBP. Gomez’s on-base percentage entering play on May 10th is 45 points higher than his batting average (which is, of course, a part of OBP to begin with). This isn’t some outlandish event. Last season, Gomez finished with an on-base percentage which was, drum roll please, 45 points higher than his batting average. His career mark is 47 points north. Doesn’t seem that wildly out of line to me given his higher batting average.
As for the increase in slugging percentage. Reaching base safely via hit increases your slugging percentage, even for singles. With Gomez, he’s gotten more than a couple of additional fortuitous bases on some plays which increase the slugging that much more. Here are two examples from just-completed series against the Rangers. Gomez swung very hard at a pitch but made contact off the end of the bat, fooling the left-fielder David Murphy. Murphy couldn’t make the catch. That’s fortunate enough on its own as it increases all three parts of a slash line. But then, based on the angle the outfielders were taking, the ball somehow got by both Murphy and centerfielder Leonys Martin. Gomez got a double, which gets the extra boost to slugging percentage. The second example is the play where Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz seemed to be in position to make a catch, bailed at the last second, and when the ball (for whatever reason ruled a hit instead of an error) got to Cruz, the catch wasn’t made. Gomez was hustling the whole way, ended up at third base, and was credited with a triple. Average up. OBP up. Slugging up with a bump via extra-base hit. Speed guys occasionally take extra bases which also helps their slugging percentage normalize a touch to the powerful, slow gentlemen who must occasionally settle for a long single. More over, Gomez has always had power in his game but it’s the increase in fly ball and line drive rates to begin with that is boosting his home run numbers, the biggest booster of a high SLG.
And for the average itself, it’s an exercise in unsustainability. Carlos Gomez is currently sporting a .447 BAbip, which is batting average on balls in play. For the record and in case you didn’t know, home runs are not counted as “in play” for the purposes of this calculation. So what that means is that for every ball hit into the field of play that ends an at-bat for Carlos Gomez, damn near half of them are landing on the grass. Baseball players average right around a .300 BAbip which means that Gomez is having an abundance of good fortune on where he’s hitting the baseball right now. Some of that is luck, sure, but there’s more to it that I’ll get into momentarily. The point here though is that this number will come down and with it Gomez’s batting average will deflate a bit.
Now regarding that “more to it” from a moment ago, it’s been documented that Gomez changed a few things this off-season in both his preparation (including training) and his approach at the plate. Gomez has done new hitting drills to refine bat control. There is also talk of how he worked with pitchers during the off-season to get increased exposure to game-situation pitching by guys trying to “get him out”. The idea there is that if he sees more live pitching that’s trying to get him to fail and not just batting practice, he’d be more prepared.
Then there is his approach. Gomez has said that he decided to stop trying to be the hitter that people have told him to be throughout his career and to be more natural at the plate. He’s always been told to try to hit ground balls and do other things that “speed guys” do. Last season saw the first bit of that as Gomez’s ratio of home runs to fly balls increased. This season though he’s been putting it all together to another level though.
The combination of better preparation and improved approach has resulted in better contact and that has resulted in more consistently beneficial outcomes.
And here are a couple of general concepts that can’t be ignored when it comes to thinking about why Carlos Gomez is breaking out to the level that he has so far this season.
- He’s in his age 27 season which is widely regarded as the beginning of the peak for hitters, where the intersection of physical skills and mental acumen are crossing at their highest points.
- He’s always been considered to be a “toolsy” player in so much as it relates to the five tools of baseball but he just hadn’t yet put it all together and realized his potential but that potential was massive.
And finally, let’s not forget why many players traditionally have said that they’ve used performance-enhancers: To get paid. Carlos Gomez already got paid. He signed his lucrative contract extension over the off-season so why would he all of a sudden start something that would risk his legacy? To know Gomez is to know that while he’s having great fun playing a kid’s game, he considers himself to have elite talent. That’s conceptually just not the kind of guy who’d need to take something.
So, sorry for rambling, but thank you for reading. My ultimate point is that there is just so much to consider as possible and probable reasons for Gomez’s current level of play that it’s just lazy and ridiculous to throw out PEDs first or really at all with zero evidence to that end. I get that the media’s job is to question things and that perhaps if they’d done a better job of that back in the late 90s we maybe wouldn’t be subjected to this cloud of doubt. Then again, isn’t it inherent upon us as fans to simply enjoy success for what it is? Why jump out to conclusions that are damaging to a player’s reputation and introduce doubt into the minds of those who want to be happy that a guy like Gomez is finally realizing his potential?
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be questions when questions are warranted but other than a lack of understanding as to why a batting average can be so high on May 9th (not “getting to be Memorial Day” as was also mentioned on the radio, because two and a half weeks is still two and a half weeks) and an apparent lack of desire to analyze instead of rumormonger, what could possibly be there to have warranted this?
Cynicism be damned. How about a glass-half-full approach once in a while?
After all, that’s the side on which the evidence currently lies.
One Lucky Fan Will Join the Winning Player on the Field for the Award Presentation
The Milwaukee Brewers have again teamed up with We Energies to present the eighth annual “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” award. Fans and local media will have the opportunity to vote for the Brewers player who they believe best personifies the characteristics of hard work and an aggressive approach to playing the game.
From Friday, May 10, 2013 through Saturday, Sept. 8, 2013, fans will be able to vote for their selected player on brewers.com/WeEnergies, and local media will have the opportunity to participate via an emailed ballot. Votes will be gathered and inserted into a weighted formula, with fan votes counting for 50%, local media votes counting for 40% and We Energies vote counting for 10% towards final tallies. Fans will also be able to cast their vote via text at select Brewers home games.
Each fan voting online as a part of the “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” promotion will be entered to win the Grand Slam Prize Pack. One winner will be randomly selected and will join the “We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year” on the field for the award presentation in September. The winner will also receive six Field Diamond Box tickets for the night of the award presentation, a luxury suite for a game, VIP pre-game experience, and an authentic jersey signed by the High-Energy Player of the Year.
Fans will be able to check results regularly as voting totals will be announced on a monthly basis. Fifty-two lucky fans will also win four Loge Outfield tickets for a Brewers home game between June 3 and Sept. 22. The promotion ends on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2013. Fans are welcome to vote and enter the contest once per week.
Ryan Braun won the award in 2012 and 2008. Other winners include Nyjer Morgan (2011), Rickie Weeks (2010), Craig Counsell (2009), Prince Fielder (2007) and Bill Hall (2006). For more information, please visit brewers.com/WeEnergies.
Following the 2012 season, the Brewers cleaned a lot of house when it came to relief pitching. That’s been well-documented here at the blog in a number of posts.
Among the casualties was the affable Tim Dillard who gave us moments like this one when he imitated ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian:
Well, a great thing happened not too long ago. Tim Dillard joined Twitter (finally!) under the handle of @DimTillard. He changes his avatar daily during week what with the Movie Quote Mondays, Tim Kurkjian Tuesdays, the newly christened George W Wednesdays, and of course Harry Caray Fridays. Dillard is funny, and personable.
And now he’s back in the Brewers organization.
Earlier today, he retweeted a congratulatory tweet from his former roommate. No context was given but I wondered if maybe the not-currently-in-baseball Dillard had found a job somewhere.
Then later in the day, Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy let the cat out of the bag. He reported that when pitcher Chris Jakubauskas was injured at Triple-A Nashville, Dillard’s phone rang to see if he wanted back in. He accepted and will report to Nashville soon.
Welcome back to the side-arming specialist!
Now we just have to hope he stays active on Twitter.