Sorry for the extreme delay due to real world responsibilities. Let’s ride.
This article should have been posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 because that day was 47 days away from Opening Day and we should have profiled…
Standing 6’4″ and listed at 230 pounds, Adrian D. Houser has a prototypical “pitcher’s frame.” As a former 2nd round draft pick by the Houston Astros out of Locust Grove High School in Oklahoma, Adrian Houser has a prospect profile. After making his MLB debut on September 26, 2015 at the tender age of 22, Adrian Houser is just scratching the surface but is starting to fulfill a lot of people’s dreams on him including his own.
As the “RHP Adrian Houser too” of the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers to Houston trade last year, there was some wonder what kind of player the Brewers had received in Houser. After all, in his seven games at Double-A Corpus Christi before the trade, Houser scuffled to a 6.21 ERA allowed 39 hits and 15 walks in 33.1 innings pitched.
Well all he did in 37.0 IP for the playoff bound Biloxi Shuckers was post a 2.92 ERA. He allowed 33 hits but only walked six. The difference in BB/9 between the relatively similar sample sizes? An untenable 4.0 in Corpus Christi against a superb 1.5 in Biloxi. That was a big factor in his success.
Houser earned himself a late, post-playoffs September call-up to the Brewers. He got into two games, throwing an inning in each. He gave up a total of one hit and two walks but nary a run did cross on his watch.
For 2016, Houser won’t be beginning the season in Milwaukee. He’s got some maturing to still do in the minors. That taste of the big leagues was a success though and it should push his confidence along in the correct direction while at the same time making him hungrier to get back.
I expect Houser to start and there’s room for him in the Colorado Springs rotation but after just 70.1 innings at Double-A it wouldn’t shock me, nor would I consider it a setback, should Houser begin the year back in Biloxi.
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the Club’s 2016 Spring Training broadcast schedule that will once again include 16 radio broadcasts on 620 WTMJ and the Brewers Radio Network, 10 additional audio webcasts, and 14 games televised by FOX Sports Wisconsin.
The only games that will not be broadcast on either radio, TV or webcast are the Wednesday, March 2 exhibition against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and, for some reason, the home game of the split-squad Cactus League openers date on Thursday, March 3 against the Cubs.
Please note that games and times are subject to change.
Date – Time (CT) – Opponent – Place – Broadcast
Wed, March 2 – 2:05pm vs UW-Milwaukee – Maryvale – N/A
Thu, March 3 – 2:05pm at San Francisco Giants – Scottsdale – Radio
– 2:05pm vs Chicago Cubs – Maryvale – N/A
Fri, March 4 – 2:05pm vs Seattle Mariners – Maryvale – Webcast
Sat, March 5 – 2:05pm at Oakland Athletics – Mesa – Radio
Sun, March 6 – 2:05pm vs Cleveland Indians – Marvyale – Webcast
Mon, March 7 – 2:05pm vs San Diego Padres – Maryvale – TV
Tue, March 8 – 2:05pm at Chicago White Sox – Glendale – Webcast
Wed, March 9 – 2:05pm at Kansas City Royals – Surprise – Webcast
Thu, March 10 – 2:05pm vs San Francisco Giants – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Fri, March 11 – 2:05pm vs Texas Rangers – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Sat, March 12 – 2:05pm vs Colorado Rockies – Maryvale – TV/Radio
DAYLIGHT-SAVINGS TIME BEGINS MARCH 13
Sun, March 13 – 3:05pm at Cleveland Indians – Goodyear – Webcast
Mon, March 14 – 3:05pm at Los Angeles Dodgers – Glendale – N/A
Tue, March 15 OFF DAY
Wed, March 16 – 3:05pm vs Chicago White Sox – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Thu, March 17 – 8:05pm at Texas Rangers – Surprise – Webcast
Fri, March 18 – 3:05pm vs Cincinnati Reds – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Sat, March 19 – 3:10pm at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Tempe – TV/Radio
Sun, March 20 – 3:05pm vs Los Angeles Dodgers – Maryvale – TV
Mon, March 21 – 3:05pm vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Maryvale – TV
– 8:40pm at Arizona Diamondbacks – Talking Stick – TV/Webcast
Tue, March 22 – 3:10pm at Colorado Rockies – Talking Stick – Radio
Wed, March 23 OFF DAY
Thu, March 24 – 3:05pm vs Kansas City Royals – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Fri, March 25 – 3:05pm at Chicago Cubs – Mesa – Webcast
Sat, March 26 – 3:05pm vs Arizona Diamondbacks – Maryvale – TV/Radio
Sun, March 27 – 3:05pm at Cleveland Indians – Goodyear – TV/Radio
Mon, March 28 – 9:05pm at Cincinnati Reds – Goodyear – Radio
Tue, March 29 – 3:05pm vs Cincinnati Reds – Maryvale – TV
Wed, March 30 – 3:10pm at Colorado Rockies – Talking Stick – Webcast
Thu, March 31 – 7:10pm at Houston Astros – Minute Maid Park – Radio
Fri, April 1 – 1:10pm at Houston Astros – Minute Maid Park – Radio
Sat, April 2 – 1:10pm at Biloxi Shuckers – Biloxi – Webcast
• Home games in bold
• Note: Daylight-Savings Time begins on March 13
• All Games/Times subject to change
• Television games aired on FOX Sports Wisconsin
• Radio games aired on WTMJ-AM 620 and the Brewers Radio Network
Less than seven weeks!
With bench coach Pat Murphy occupying jersey #49, we jump over yesterday and arrive at the owner of #48 in Spring Training…
The professional path that Patrick Theodore Joseph Misch arrived as a non-roster invitee to Brewers big league camp at Maryvale is a long one. After all, he’s had a 13-year career as a pro ballplayer.
Let’s start at the end though. Misch started Game 7 for the Lamingo Monkeys in the Taiwan Series which is the championship of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. The Monkeys won 11-0 but the real story was the pitching of Misch as he threw a no-hitter. The only thing between Misch and a perfect game was a 5th inning walk. It was the first ever no-hitter in the Taiwan Series.
That amazing moment in Misch’s career came after a lengthy journey throughout Major League Baseball. Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2003, Misch would spend parts of seven seasons in the Giants system including parts of four years in the Giants uniform.
Misch was waived in 2009 after posting a 10.80 ERA in four appearances that season which finished his Giants career with a Major League stat line including a 5.20 ERA in 97.0 innings pitched across 38 games. He started in 11 of his appearances for San Francisco.
After being claimed by the New York Mets, Misch joined the big league club and pitched to a 4.12 ERA in 59 games. Two more seasons in the Mets organizations begat a season each with the Triple-A affiliates of Philadelphia and Detroit.
Then, Misch kept the dream alive with some Independent League & Winter ball before securing a 2015 contract with the Marlins. He went to Triple-A again, pitching to a 3.25 ERA in 16 games (11 starts).
Misch would not finish the season with Miami as he was released in early July and, after playing a week with the Independent League Lancaster Barnstormers, found himself on his way to Asia which connects the ends of the path.
He comes to the Brewers on a standard minor-league deal that comes with an invitation to big league camp. He’s a southpaw, something the Brewers only have one of on the 40-man roster, but the season likely will begin at Miller Park without Misch on the 25-man roster.
That doesn’t change the fact that, at 34 years old Pat Misch pitched his way into the history books. I’m sure he’d like the opportunity to see if he can handle MLB hitters again.
And given the state of the Brewers roster, this is as good a spot as any to continue keeping that dream alive.
UPDATE: Pat Misch requested his release to pursue an opportunity to pitch with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. The request was granted and he is no longer coming to Brewers camp.
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Brewer Nation! We’re just 50 days away from Opening Day which puts us just over seven weeks out. Each time the tens digit rolls over it’s like clearing a little mental hurdle.
So let’s finish our approach to this hurdle by profiling a first-timer to “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”…
Or should I write “Jhonathan” because the Facebook page for the 24-year-old reliever from Venezuela spells his first name with a “J” and that’s basically how you pronounce it. I digress though.
Barrios was acquired by the Brewers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 23, 2015 in exchange for Aramis Ramirez (and cash). At the time, many people wrote things about not being able to expect much in return for a guy who has said he’s going to retire at the end of the season and who, quite frankly, wasn’t playing all that great at the time of the trade.
People found a myriad of ways to bemoan the acquisition.
“He’s only 5’10”.”
“All they got was a Double-A relief pitcher?”
“Who is Yuh-honathan?”
“WHY DIDN’T THEY GET MOAR!!!1!”
But the facts that have come to light once Barrios got a chance are that this guy can pitch. He can also throw as evidenced by his four-seam fastball averaging 96.4 MPH during his time in the big leagues (per Fangraphs). And though in his five games he was primarily a two-pitch pitcher (fastball/change-up), he also lightly sprinkled a slider as well.
The two pitches worked for him during his September call-up though as he put up 6.2 scoreless innings in five appearances, striking out seven and walking exactly zero. It’s obviously a small sample size and is predictive of almost nothing, but as I always say it’s certainly better than getting lit up in a small sample size.
Barrios is going to be in the mix for the Opening Day roster if in the Cactus League he performs even close to how he did last September. That said, he could get squeezed out with the options situation surrounding the other bullpen arms (assuming no one else gets traded).
If the Brewers go with a seven-man bullpen — the norm, though it’s certainly not uncommon to roll with eight at times — they’ll have tough decisions to make. Right now the locks given last year’s performances and current roster considerations are Michael Blazek, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, and Will Smith. Tyler Thornburg & Ariel Peña are both out of options and Zack Jones (Rule 5 pick) either makes the team or needs to be offered back to Minnesota. That leaves worthwhile 2015 contributors like Barrios and David Goforth working at Colorado Springs. New 40-man adds Damien Magnifico and Jacob Barnes should probably start in minors for a bit more seasoning, but what of Junior Guerra (he has options)?
The point is that Barrios could find himself beginning the year in Colorado Springs and if his 53.3% ground ball rate in September translates back down to the minors he’ll be fine there. It’ll also help that he allowed just two home runs in 60.1 combined innings pitched in the minors last year.
Bottom line: Barrios is a useful asset for this team who could prove effective for several years as the complexion of the roster continues to change.
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
This was finished late, so no real intro. It was intended for posting on Friday, February 12 when we were 52 days away from Spring Training, a day on which we would have profiled…
What a difference two years can make. At this point in 2014, James Jacob Nelson was coming off of a September call-up but faced a full big league rotation. He would end up starting the season at Class-AAA Nashville, dominating the top minor league circuit en route to an All-Star Game selection and eventual Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award for the Pacific Coast League. He would eventually be promoted due to the ineffectiveness of Marco Estrada.
A year ago at this time, the 6’6″ right-hander from the University of Alabama was ticketed for the starting rotation but realized that he needed to be more consistent with his pitch sequencing and execution. He also was tinkering with a new pitch to compliment his fastball/slider combination for when he change-up proved ineffective during games.
The mystery pitch turned out to be a knuckle-curve, also called a spike curve. He broke it out during the spring and it was an excellent offering. In fact, he rode its effectiveness to an opponent slash line of .216/.318/.270 over his first four starts in 2015. Despite the weak results, Nelson still found himself with a 1-2 record in four starts and a 4.03 ERA on May 1st.
May was a far worse story for Nelson in many ways as the .430 slugging against was due to 15 extra-base hits including seven home runs, more than double any other month. Despite all that, his ERA was actually better at 3.83 in 40.0 innings pitched across six starts. Still, come June 1, Nelson was sitting with a 2-5 record.
Nelson’s best month of the year, for what it’s worth, was by far July. Not only did he hold opponents to a .294 on-base, but he struck out 32 against 12 walks in 33.0 innings pitched, and allowed just eight extra-base hits. He allowed just six earned runs all month which was good for a 1.64 ERA and 3-1 record.
Every statistic almost became moot though on Thursday, September 17. That was the day where Nelson took a line drive off the side of his head. It was a 108 MPH line drive off the bat of Tommy Pham. I was in the ballpark that night. Nelson went down and laid motionless seemingly forever. He would recount after the game that he chose to lay still until the athletic trainer reached him and they told him not to move initially as well. He rolled up onto his knees and walked off the field a lot sooner than any of us thought he would.
After staying in the hospital for observation for a short time, Nelson was released none the worse for wear, however his season would end on that play. There simply wasn’t a reason to risk any physicality for Nelson after that kind of situation.
All told for his first (nearly) full season in the big leagues, Nelson would finish 11-13, 4.11 ERA, 30 GS, 177.1 IP, 163 H, 89 R, 81 ER, 18 HR, 65 BB, 148 K, 13 HBP (led the league), 1.286 WHIP. All that equates to a 96 ERA+ meaning that Nelson was four percent worse than league average overall.
Nelson broke though to the big league in 2014 and cemented himself in the rotation in 2015, but there is room to improve. Nelson will tell you, as he told me, that he knows he needs to get more consistent results by way of more consistent execution. Four of his final five starts are ones Nelson will tell you aren’t good enough. In the four combined, Nelson threw 15.1 IP and allowed 18 ER. They would balloon his season ERA from 3.60 on August 25th to the 4.11 at which he finished. Nelson also took the loss in all four of those games.
As for his future outlook, Nelson should be fine mentally going forward. He wanted to pitch before the season was over last year and has no doubt been itching to get back on the mound in a game setting. He’ll be counted on to help lead this rotation that despite the rebuilding efforts returns primarily intact. Both Mike Fiers (trade) and Kyle Lohse are gone from the Opening Day rotation, but both pitchers were out of the rotation for the final two months of the year. The biggest change is the addition of Chase Anderson to round things out instead of, for example, Zach Davies who finished the season in the rotation or one of the other young starters.
Regardless, Nelson will be in the front part of the rotation and will be looked at to take another step or more forward as the team positions itself for contention in a couple of years.
Just remember going in that wins and losses really won’t matter much for individual pitchers this year. It’s definitely more about how they’re pitching and how their development continues at the big league level. That’s as true for Nelson as it is for Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann, and even Anderson.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson
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The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired catcher Jacob Nottingham and right-handed pitcher Bubba Derby from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Khris Davis. Following this trade, the Brewers’ 40-man roster stands at 39. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.
“In Jacob Nottingham, we are acquiring one of the premier catching prospects in baseball,” said Stearns. “Jacob has an advanced feel for hitting and has demonstrated consistent power throughout his minor-league career.”
Nottingham, who turns 21 on April 3, has been invited to Major League camp as a non-roster player. He is a career .284 hitter with 23 HR and 130 RBI in 211 games at the Rookie and Class-A levels (2013-15).
Originally selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, Nottingham was dealt to Oakland this past July 23 as part of a trade for left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir. In 2015, he batted a combined .316 with 33 doubles, 17 HR and 82 RBI in 119 games between Class-A Quad Cities (Houston), Class-A Lancaster (Houston) and Class-A Stockton (Oakland). He was named to both the Midwest League’s midseason and postseason All-Star teams while at Quad Cities.
“In acquiring Bubba Derby, we continue to add to our prospect pitching depth,” said Stearns. “In his first professional season, Bubba had one of the best performances of any lower-level pitcher. We are excited to add him and Jacob to our organization.”
Bowdien “Bubba” Derby, who turns 22 on February 24, went 1-1 with a sterling 1.21 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) during his first professional season between the Rookie Arizona Athletics (2gs) and Class-A Vermont (12g/8gs). He held opponents to a .183 batting average with 47 strikeouts in just 37.1 innings.
Davis, 28, batted .250 with 60 HR and 162 RBI in 321 career games with the Brewers (2013-15), including .247 with 27 HR and 66 RBI in 121 games last season. He was selected by Milwaukee in the seventh round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Prior to today’s trade, David Stearns already acquired a number of highly-regarded prospects during his first offseason as general manager of the Brewers, including 2015 Pioneer League Most Valuable Player – shortstop Isan Diaz (Jean Segura trade), infielder Javier Betancourt (Francisco Rodriguez trade), right-handed pitcher Trey Supak (Jason Rogers trade) and right-handed pitchers Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera and Freddy Peralta (Adam Lind trade).
We are 54 days away from Opening Day. That’s less than two months, less than 8 weeks. As was once infamously said about Paris practically being a suburb of Berlin, “It’s a nothing commute.” In other words, it’ll be here before you know it.
Just think about the milestones we’ve already left in our collective rear-views this winter.
No, wait, don’t think about that. Think about my guy who wears #54 for the Milwaukee Brewers, my favorite baseball team…
Last winter I took a particular interest in Michael Robert Blazek, being the only person to bend his ear for a time at the annual On Deck fan fest event. We talked about his off-season program and the things he was focusing on in order to get better and have the best season of his career.
Well, I’d say it paid off.
I say that for a number of reasons. It was Blazek’s first full season in the big leagues for starters…er…to start with. He pitched exclusively in relief and, get this, posted his best full-season ERA (2.43) of his professional career. That’s at any level. He prevented runs better in 2015 against MLB competition than he had at any point along his winding ascent to the big leagues following his being selected in the 35th(!) round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. His previous best was a combined 3.00 in 2013 which was compiled between two minor league levels for St. Louis, and big league time in both St. Louis and Milwaukee that year.
It goes beyond ERA though. Blazek’s FIP was a career-best 3.17, his WHIP a career-best 1.042. He allowed just 6.5 H/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Both figures are, you guessed it, career-bests.
Blazek appeared in 45 games, 32 of which were scoreless appearances. He also inherited runners nine times (13 total inherited) in 2015 (once with the bases loaded) and only allowed any of them to score twice. Those days were the Opening Day team-wide disaster against Colorado and a 10-1 loss to the Braves on May 21st.
About the only thing that went wrong for the 6’0″ right-handed Las Vegas native was a signifcant one. Blazek suffered a broken hand at some point. I say “at some point” because no one is really certain when it happened. One day, while throwing long toss, Blazek’s right hand just started to swell. There wasn’t any pain involved which is why it could have been undetected for some time.
The bone eventually would heal and Blazek worked hard to return before the end of the year. That would end up not being in the cards as the team moved Blazek to the 60-day disabled list to open a 40-man roster spot for one of the Biloxi troop which was called up late in the year. Blazek told me that he was disappointed by the move as he was near a clean bill of health and really didn’t want his season to end on the sour note of injury.
As for the injury itself, it certainly would help explain his rough patch leading up to the diagnosis. Beginning on July 30, Blazek allowed runs in four of five appearances including allowing all three of his home runs for the season, the last of which resulted in a walk-off win for the Chicago Cubs on August 12th.
This led to speculation that Blazek injured his hand nefariously striking something out of frustration because everything’s a conspiracy, apparently. That wasn’t the case here and a bone in Blazek’s hand broke.
I spoke to Blazek about it again at Brewers On Deck last month and he told me that he’s doing some exercises to make sure his grip strength is where is needs to be but he’s healthy and ready to go when Pitchers & Catchers report on February 19.
(Sidebar: His hair is also most definitely ready.)
And to follow up on the question I asked him a year ago, I wondered what his goals were for 2016. After getting through the baseball stuff (BOR-ING!, right??) he said he desires to become the greatest FIFA player of all time on PS4. Any challengers feel up to letting Blazek hone his skills?
Seriously though, on the baseball stuff Blazek said he’s on track with his preparations which are strikingly similar to last season. You know, that season when he was the best he’s ever been.
Works for me. Good answer.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelBlazek34
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The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the team’s full 2016 promotional schedule. This season’s jam-packed calendar is filled with 14 All-Fan Giveaways, three brand new All-Kid Giveaways, the return of the Brewers Postgame Concerts and much, much, more.
Six bobbleheads, a Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock and the addition of three All-Kid Giveaways highlight the list of items that will be given away at Sunday afternoon contests at Miller Park this season. In addition, the Brewers will continue Free-Shirt Fridays for the third straight year. Seven different T-shirts will be given away throughout the season, including one at every Friday home game at Miller Park from June through August. The T-shirt designs were chosen as part of an online vote and were revealed on stage at Brewers On Deck. Additional information about this year’s All-Fan Giveaways is available at Brewers.com/allfans.
2016 All-Fan Giveaway Dates at Miller Park
April 10 vs. Houston | 1980s Vintage Brewer Bobblehead
May 1 vs. Miami | Ryan Braun Franchise Home Run Leader Bobblehead
June 10 vs. New York (N) | Bernie’s Chalet T-Shirt
June 12 vs. New York (N) | Barking BobbleHank
June 24 vs. Washington | Camo Ball & Glove T-Shirt
June 28 vs. Los Angeles (N) | Greg Vaughn ‘90s Bobblehead
July 8 vs. St. Louis | Hank Aaron Shirsey
July 10 vs. St. Louis | Bob Uecker Alarm Clock
July 22 vs. Chicago (N) | Retro Royal T-Shirt
July 29 vs. Pittsburgh | Brew Crew Bottle Cap T-Shirt
July 31 vs Pittsburgh | Jimmy Nelson Bobblehead
August 12 vs. Cincinnati | Milwaukee Icons T-Shirt
August 14 vs. Cincinnati | Craig Counsell Player/Manager Bobblehead
August 26 vs. Pittsburgh | MKE Home T-Shirt
New for the 2016 season is the addition of Kids Eat Free Sundays. Every Sunday home game, all kids 14 and under will receive a voucher upon entrance to Miller Park good for a free hot dog, apple slices and a bottle of water. If that wasn’t enough, the Brewers are excited to also announce three All-Kid Giveaways this year. All kids 14 and under who are in attendance will receive a Jonathan Lucroy Replica Jersey on May 15, courtesy of Kwik Trip, a Paint-Your-Own Bernie Bobblehead on May 29 and a Jonathan Lucroy Chest Protector Backpack on August 28, also courtesy of Kwik Trip.
Thanks to the success of last season’s inaugural series, the Brewers are proud to host two Postgame Concerts in 2016. On Saturday, May 14, the Brewers will welcome one of the music industry’s hottest stars to Miller Park as multi-Platinum pop artist Andy Grammer will perform a full-length, free postgame concert, courtesy of Pick ‘n Save, following the Crew’s matchup with the San Diego Padres. Then on Saturday, August 27, country music star Kip Moore will take the stage following the Brewers vs. Pirates game, presented by 94.5 KTI Country.
In addition to the many giveaways at the yard this year, the Brewers will bring back the 5-County, 5-Day Celebration, Spring Madness (414), Student Nights, Miller High Life Mondays and Kids and Senior Citizens Discount Days.
Fans in the region will want to head to Miller Park from April 20-24, as residents of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha Counties can purchase half-price tickets during the team’s annual 5-County, 5-Day Celebration.
Another great deal for fans comes around Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30 as Spring Madness (414) returns. Fans can save 50% on select seats while enjoying special “414” concession pricing with $4 16oz beers, $1 hot dogs & small sodas and $4 nachos.
Fans looking for start-of-the-week fun will want to check out the return of Miller High Life Mondays, which feature a new lower price this year. Terrace Reserved tickets are just $6 for all Monday home games with a 6:20 p.m. start time, courtesy of Miller High Life.
Also returning in 2016, most weekday afternoon home game kids 14 and under and seniors 60+ save 50% on tickets on Kids and Senior Citizens Discount Days.
Students are also invited to take in the fun with a great deal as every Friday home game is a Student Night, where those in high school and college can purchase $10 Terrace Reserved or $15 Loge Bleachers tickets. On top of that, students can enjoy a special $3 Happy Hour menu – featuring hot dogs, nachos, soda and beer – through the end of the first inning.
The complete 2016 promotional schedule is available at brewers.com/promotions.
While I expect to find this post with low readership because there’s some kind of football game on television later, I thank each of you who decided to click today. I’ll try to save you some time by not drawing out this introduction. Instead, let’s get right into today’s profile of…
I was tempted to simply make this blog post a redirect link so that you could read Tim Brown’s excellent profile of who Robert Chase Anderson is as a man. Instead, I decided to still give some additional background and go over his performance on the field like I tend to do in these things. You absolutely should read Brown’s piece too though, and probably first.
Anyway, Anderson comes to Milwaukee this off-season as part of the return for sending Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Anderson is a right-handed pitcher who has worked exclusively as a starting pitcher for four of the past five seasons after spending his first two professional years splitting time with a bit more spent entering games in relief. 2013 is the oddity as he worked in 26 games but only 13 starts.
That decision was made in no small part because of, as is so often the case with pitchers, injury. Anderson first suffered a sprained flexor tendon in his pitching elbow in 2011 which caused him to miss almost the entire season. He had additional, likely related, elbow issues each of the next two years which ultimately led to the D’backs shifting him to the bullpen for part of the year to see how Anderson reacted physically.
Anderson didn’t pitch well out of the bullpen though so the move back to the rotation was made. Fortunately, Anderson had been healthy since (up to midsummer 2015) and was able to showcase his abilities to the point where he’s not only made his MLB debut (May 11, 2014) but stayed in the big leagues. Outside of one start on August 2nd last year with the rookie ball team, Anderson has been a big leaguer since he became one.
Now 28 years old, the 6’1″ Anderson is firmly in what is often considered the prime of one’s baseball career. He started 27 games for the D’backs last year, throwing 152.2 innings. His overall season numbers don’t look great (4.30 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 95 ERA+) but there’s nuance inside of those numbers.
Anderson’s worst stretch of the year came in the five starts leading up to a stint on the disabled list with right triceps inflammation. In those five starts prior, Anderson struggled to a 9.12 ERA. He would miss about three weeks with the injury and pitched much better afterward overall.
From a business standpoint, Anderson offers a lot of value for the rebuilding Brewers. There exists a full five seasons of team control for Anderson which means the next two are pre-arbitration. Brewers brass indicated that Anderson will join the rotation immediately which more or less sets the starting rotation (barring injury or trade).
But obviously the true test of value comes in the execution of the baseball skills. If you can pitch effectively, you’ll be worth the paycheck. If Anderson is healthy, all signs point to his being good enough to be worth more than he’ll deposit into his bank account this year.
How will he accomplish that? Anderson will tell you (as he did on the radio recently) that his best pitch is his change-up. It’s been that way for awhile for the native Texan. Around the time of Anderson’s MLB debut, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (who had spent the previously three seasons as Arizona’s minor league pitching coordinator) was quoted as saying this about Anderson’s best pitch.
“It’s definitely the best in our system. Hitters obviously don’t recognize his change-up and they see fastball. He has such good hand speed and arm speed and deception on the pitch.”
A quality change should serve Anderson will in Miller Park and it’s made even better by the fact that his average fastball velocity was up over 93 MPH at the end of last year. Increased difference in the speed of those two pitches isn’t a bad thing.
The bottom line for Anderson is that the Brewers seem to be getting a hard worker with high character who is effective when healthy.
Follow Chase on Twitter: @ChaseAnderson87
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Can you feel the excitement? Today is February, 6, 2016 and we’re just 58 days away from Opening Day on April 4th.
Today we profile a player who saw his stock rise in 2015 much like his jersey number did. After wearing #68 in big league camp last year, this year #58 belongs to…
What a difference a few months can make.
From being considered the third piece in the return when the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Southern California, USA, Peña stands today as the only one left in the organization. First came the minor league free agency of Johnny Hellweg (following a lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery) in which he decided to sign with the San Diego Padres organization. Then came the trade which sent centerpiece Jean Segura to the Arizona Diamondbacks (along with Tyler Wagner) for three different players.
Hellweg had control and command issues during his entire Brewers run (not to mention most of his professional career overall). Segura’s excellent debut and All-Star Game run looked extremely promising and while his defense continued to be a strength, his offense largely fizzled. So that leaves Peña who has had a history of command and control problems of his own but who took a step in the right direction by slashing his walk rate (in Class-AAA Colorado Springs of all places) to the lowest it had been since the first half of his 2012 Double-A season.
Some numbers still don’t look great but if you look at the improvements over 2014 and factor in the change in environments, there are enough encouraging signs to understand why Peña was called upon to finally make his Major League debut as a September call-up once the Sky Sox season ended.
Peña first appeared in relief but then started the rest of the way eventually appearing in six games and tossing 27.1 innings in the Show. He finished with a 4.28 ERA. He didn’t have a scoreless appearance and his walk rate jumped back up to 4.6. He did maintain a strong strikeout rate though as he K’d 27 batters in those 27.1 IP, putting his MLB number at 8.9 K/9 after he finished his minor league season with 83 K in 82.2 IP.
Out of minor league options, Peña is going to have to show something when camp opens in under two weeks at Maryvale. After all, he is the acquisition of the previous regime and is now 26 years old. Peña will be an inexpensive option to fill out the bullpen for 2016 and seems made for the long-relief/swingman role to begin the year. Then again, I’m very interested to see what new pitching coach Derek Johnson decides to do with Peña though. He could decide that short-relief, higher-leverage situations like 7th inning work make the most sense. There’s a chance that Peña’s command could be harnessed in a bit in shorter stints on the mound.
Regardless of the role, Peña still seems intriguing enough that the Brewers will want to keep him around to begin 2016 and see what they have in him over a long look at the big league level.
Follow Ariel on Twitter: @2Eltrabieso
Catch up on BBtJN ’16:
- Kickoff Column – #68-#78
- #63 – Junior Guerra
- #62 – Garin Cecchini
- #61 – Ramón Flores
- #60 – Keon Broxton