Results tagged ‘ Brewers ’

BREAKING NEWS: Craig Counsell Named Nineteenth Manager in Brewers History

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After Ron Roenicke was relieved of his managerial duties late Sunday evening by the Milwaukee Brewers — and once the requisite hot takes about whether the firing was the right move died down — chatter sparked up about who would replace the man who has been at the helm of this club since taking over prior to the 2011 season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to go on record late last night, quoting a source who said that the new manager will be former Brewers player and of late member of Doug Melvin’s front office Craig Counsell. (For what it’s worth, I was able to independently confirm the same earlier Monday morning.)

Rosenthal wasn’t the first person to suggest that Counsell could be the choice. Speculation was running rampant on social media as everyone tried to determine who made the most sense. Names like Ron Gardenhire and even *shudder* Dusty Baker were offered as out-of-work managerial types who weren’t all that busy over the weekend. In the end, Counsell got the nod.

General Manager Doug Melvin told reporters last night that the decision to relieve Roenicke and go in another direction was made following the series loss in Cincinnati during the just completed road trip. It then took a couple of days to ask and subsequently negotiate a deal. Roenicke nor his coaches were informed of the decision until Sunday evening and while the rest of the coaching staff is being retained for the rest of the season (for now anyway), Roenicke’s firing could signal the beginning of much bigger changes on the horizon.

Counsell is another in a recent trend of hirings at the Major League level of former players who lack managerial experience. Mike Matheny has had the most success in St. Louis to this point but Brad Ausmus in Detroit and Robin Ventura with the White Sox, Walt Weiss in Colorado, Matt Williams with Washington. There are only 30 of these jobs, after all.

Counsell has signed a three-year contract to manager the Brewers.

Following is the official press release:

The Milwaukee Brewers have named Craig Counsell the 19th manager in franchise history, signing him to a three-year contract through the 2017 season. Counsell replaces Ron Roenicke, who was relieved of his duties last night. The announcement was made by President – Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

“Craig has many years of Major League playing experience, and his three-plus years of learning all aspects of baseball operations helps prepare him for this managerial position,” said Melvin. “There will be challenges, but Craig has never shied away from leadership responsibilities on the field as a player or in his most recent role. I believe his on-field success as a player and his awareness for preparation should resonate in the clubhouse. Growing up in Milwaukee, it is very important for him to bring a winning culture and team success to Brewers fans.”

Counsell, 44, joined the front office on January 17, 2012 as special assistant to the general manager. The former infielder enjoyed a 16-year Major League playing career, batting .255 with 42 HR, 390 RBI and 103 stolen bases in 1,624 games with Colorado (1995, ‘97), Florida (1997-99), Los Angeles (1999), Arizona (2000-03, 2005-06) and Milwaukee (2004, 2007-11). He was a member of World Series championship teams with Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001), and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 National League Championship Series.

“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to manage the team that I rooted for, played for and worked for in the front office,” said Counsell. “In the 10 years that I have been a member of the organization, I have grown to feel a great responsibility to baseball in the city of Milwaukee. This has been a difficult time for the Brewers, and we all share the responsibility. I understand the work ahead to be the team our fans deserve. We have challenges ahead of us and I look forward to working tirelessly to achieve our goals.”

Counsell, a 1988 graduate of Whitefish Bay High School and 1992 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, resides in Whitefish Bay with his wife, Michelle, their sons, Brady and Jack, and daughters, Finley and Rowan. His father, John, worked in the Brewers front office as director of the speakers bureau (1979-85) and director of community relations (1986-87).

Roster News: Another Starter Hits the DL

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The Brewers announced Tuesday morning that Scooter Gennett has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List (retroactive to Monday, April 20) due to the left hand laceration he suffered during a post-game shower in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Taking his place on the active roster will be Elian Herrera. Herrera’s contract was purchased from the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox which gets him back on the 40-man roster. Herrera has been scorching hot for the Sky Sox after an impressive spring training…

To clear a spot on the 40-man, RHP Brandon Kintzler was designated for assignment. Kintzler was just activated off of Colorado Springs’ disabled list Tuesday morning after a reported fingernail avulsion.

Broken: Lucroy’s Toe

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Jonathan Lucroy left Monday night’s game early a half-inning after taking a foul ball squarely off the toes of his left foot while catching. He finished the inning and flew out in his next at-bat but then was lifted in favor of Martin Maldonado. Lucroy limped out of the batter’s box and down the first base line on the play.

Following Monday’s game, the Brewers tweeted the following worst-case scenario news.

In the off-season, the Brewers claimed Juan Centeno off waivers from the New York Mets. Centeno is on the 40-man roster and will join the team in Milwaukee tomorrow.

Entering play Monday, Centeno was hitting a mere .192 in 27 plate appearances across seven games for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Centeno, 25, made his MLB debut back in 2013 for the Mets and has a career batting average of .225 in 14 games.

Gomez Hits DL, Recall Made

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The Milwaukee Brewers announced this morning that Carlos Gomez was officially placed on the 15-day Disabled List as a result of the injuring of his right hamstring in the ninth inning of Wednesday evening’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was reported that Gomez has a small defect or tear in this hamstring and that he received a cortisone shot.

Gomez was originally hoped to only be out a few days, but an examination by the Brewers’ team doctor in Milwaukee on Thursday revealed the tear and the decision was made to shut Gomez down for the time being.

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To fill Gomez’s spot on the 25-man roster, the Brewers recalled Jason Rogers from his optioned assignment to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox. In six games with the Sky Sox, Rogers has slashed .360/.429/.640 (1.069 OPS) across 28 plate appearances. He has scored eight times, has collected three extra-base hits (one double, two home runs), and has put up three walks to four strikeouts.

Once a 32nd round draft pick by the Brewers back in 2010, Rogers made his Major League as a September call-up just last season. In limited work he collected just one hit (a double) in 10 trips to the plate.

Rogers has the ability to play first base, third base, and some left field defensively.

He adds a right-handed bat with a quality batting eye to the Brewers bench, something they should find useful.

Brewers Roster News

Today the Milwaukee Brewers posted a series of tweets clarifying their roster as we move towards Opening Day.

In total, seven players were moved out of big league camp today leaving just 27 players. Two more moves will be made before the deadline to accomplish such things. One is almost assuredly Jim Henderson who will either open on the disabled list or end up optioned to the minors as he continues to come back from shoulder surgery. The other move will be either the return of non-roster invitee Elian Herrera to the minor league side or the optioning of Logan Schafer.

Doug Melvin told the media recently that he expected to finalize the 25-man roster with players already in camp. That speaks to no trades currently percolating. If that’s the case, the roster appears basically set with just the formal decision to be made on Herrera.

If things shake out as they currently appear, *UPDATE* This is how the roster breaks down:

Starting Pitchers (5): Lohse, Garza, Peralta, Fiers, Nelson

Relief Pitchers (7): Rodriguez, Broxton, Smith, Jeffress, Cotts, Thornburg, Blazek

Catchers (2): Lucroy, Maldonado

Infielders (6): Lind, Gennett, Segura, Ramirez, H. Gomez, Jimenez

Outfielders (5): Davis, C. Gomez, Braun, Parra, Schafer

Ron Roenicke’s lineup today carried the flavor of one we could see on Opening Day as well (with the obvious exception of the choice for pitcher). Here’s what it’ll probably look like.

  1. Carlos Gomez – CF
  2. Jonathan Lucroy – C
  3. Ryan Braun – RF
  4. Aramis Ramirez – 3B
  5. Adam Lind – 1B
  6. Khris Davis – LF
  7. Scooter Gennett – 2B
  8. Jean Segura – SS
  9. Pitcher McThrowballs – P

 

Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #20 Jonathan Lucroy

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(so on and so forth)

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUC!

Yes, the “ooh” sound in the middle of an athlete’s name means, at least in Wisconsin, that said player will never truly know how the fans feels because it always sounds like ample disdain on the home field. It’s an inevitability. If you’ve ever produced a worthwhile memory, have longevity, and/or are popular for whatever reason, the “oohs” are going to find you. From Brewers favorite Cecil Cooooooooper and the Green Bay Packer John Kuuuuuuuuuuuhn to current Brewer (and today’s profile subject)…

Jonathan Luuuuucroy (er…Lucroy).

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The other thing that Jonathan Charles Lucroy couldn’t escape last year was hitting doubles. They were everywhere, it seemed. Truth be told, he hit 53 of them setting a new high-water mark for that statistical category for catchers. Equally as impressive, if not more so, was the Lucroy finished the deed with two months of an ailing hamstring and when the entire rest of the team was seemingly in a simultaneous slump at the plate. Mind you, Lucroy didn’t avoid slumping in 2014, he just happened to have his in July (.207/.271/.414) after a blisteringly hot June (.359/.427/.602) but still managed six doubles in July.

The statistics are there, and in the interest of time I won’t bore you with all of them. Instead allow me to summarize Lucroy’s on- and off-field contributions to the Brewers both in terms of statistics as well as notoriety. Jonathan Lucroy finished fourth in the National League’s Most Valuable Player balloting for 2014, started the All-Star Game at catcher, set those records for doubles, finished with a .301 batting average by getting the two hits he needed on the season’s final day, is the subject of a Star Wars-themed bobblehead in May at Miller Park as well as a fitting “Double Jonathan Lucroy” bobblehead in Appleton at the Brewers Class-A affiliate in April. He was the Brewers representative in MLB Network’s annual “Face of MLB” contest and even attended the President’s State of the Union address in part due to his work with the Honor Flight program. His “nerd power” and eyeglasses celebration was endearing and his frankness and earnestness as a locker room voice for the team is well-noted. His pitch framing is talked about in most every baseball circle that cares. He’s become a complete player with just enough self-deprecating wit to keep away those who would tear down athletes and celebrities deemed to be too popular.

Lucroy truly is a bastion of baseball excellence for the Brewers. He’s listed among the game’s elite at his position and his play is absolutely paramount to the success of the Brewers in 2015. With that in mind, manager Ron Roenicke has made a decision to continue keeping Lucroy’s bat in the lineup while protecting him physically from catching every single day by using Luc as soft platoon partner at first base with newcomer Adam Lind. Lucroy appeared in 18 games at first base for Milwaukee in 2014 — a that number will likely increase in 2015. He handles the pitching staff well and despite not having a great throwing arm it is accurate.

All (okay, most) of the above is why when Lucroy showed up to Spring Training with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that affected him down the stretch last season, so many fans and analysts were worried. Lucroy is reportedly fine now, though still advised against full out “sprinting”. Getting and keeping him healthy throughout 2015 is something that the award winning medical staff of the Brewers is up for, but the body has to cooperate to a degree.

Lucroy’s availability will go a long way in determining how 2015 ends up for himself, his teammates, and Brewers fans alike.

If anybody is up to the task, it’s the man affectionately referred to as “Luuuuc.”

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JLucroy20

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #21 Jeremy Jeffress

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Three weeks less a day until this countdown is over. That’s because A) I no longer and never again will preview anyone with one day remaining and B) we’re just three weeks away from Opening Day on April 6 at Miller Park!!!ExclamationPoint!!

The wearer of number 21 gets our focus today, and he is…

Jeremy Jeffress.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Photo Day

It was the 6th day of June in 2006 when the Milwaukee Brewers made Jeremy Ross Jeffress the 16th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. He signed a day later and embarked on a journey that would eventually bring him full circle for you see Jeffress has not always been a Brewer.

A high school kid out of South Boston, Virginia, Jeffress was considered a quality pick in the middle of the first round. He would make his MLB debut for Milwaukee just under three weeks before his 23rd birthday as a 2010 September call up. There was seemingly more motivation at the time than merely trying to determine whether he was ready to consistently get out Major League hitters. Jeffress was on the verge of being banned for baseball for life.

As the promising fireballer was working his way through the minor leagues, he had been suspended twice for positive tests “involving a drug of abuse”. Two suspensions (for 50 and 100 games respectively) meant that Jeffress was busted three times. The most recent one began at the tail end of June 2009. He had reportedly undergone rehab following his first suspension in 2007, if I recall correctly, and likely just relapsed after a while.

Jeffress ended up missing the rest of the 2009 season as well as over a month of the 2010 season. He needed to be added to the 40-man roster anyway after 2010 or risk Rule 5 Draft exposure, so the Brewers got him on earlier than necessary and pitched him that September. He walked six in just 10.0 innings of work, but also struck out eight and kept his ERA at 2.70. All small sample size stuff, but the velocity was certainly there for him as well.

To his credit, Jeffress finally gave up his habit and had been getting his life right on and off the field. He credits the birth of his daughter as one of the turning points in his life. He also had an underlying medical issue that he has since gotten under control, that being seizures. With proper medication, he’s physically and mentally in the best place he’s ever been and the results are showing in the box scores.

Jeffress was notably a piece in the off-season trade with the Kansas City Royals that brought Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. Jeffress would pitch in 27 games for the Royals over two seasons without much success. A major source of his problems came from command. He was walking a ton of batters. Suffice it to say that as his walk rate has plummeted over the last few years, his results have gotten better and better.

2011: 6.5 BB/9, 4.70 ERA in 14 games
2012: 8.8 BB/9, 6.75 ERA in 13 games
2013: 4.4 BB/9, 0.87 ERA in 10 games
2014 Milwaukee only: 2.2 BB/9, 1.88 ERA in 29 games with a career-best 3.57 K/BB ratio

Jeffress has also shown the ability to miss bats which definitely helps him escape jams whether they be self-created or inherited. Coupled with less base runners (a career-best 1.186 WHIP for Milwaukee in 2014), his skills are begin to amalgamate into a high-leverage reliever with possible 9th inning duties in the future. Still just 27, Jeffress could pitch for another decade if he continues to refine those skills which have gotten him this far.

As for 2015, Jeffress is currently slotted in a setup role mostly tasked with getting three outs in and around the 7th inning. At times he might be used as a right-handed sub for Jonathan Broxton in the 8th inning if Broxton needs a day off. Other times he might be called upon to get a key out prior to the 7th should the game be on the line early. But paired with the left-handed Will Smith, the two hard throwers will be a tough combination to crack for opposing lineups.

Workign in tandem with Smith could be a great thing for Jeffress because if there’s one other thing on which Jeffress can work to improve, it’s getting out left-handed hitters. His splits were pretty rough in 2014.

vs. RHH – .221/.274/.235 – 68 AB, 15 H, 1 2B, 5 BB, 20 K, .313 BAbip
vs. LHH – .392/.458/.510 – 51 AB, 20 H, 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 BB, 9 K, .452 BAbip

So while some of that is bad luck, there’s enough of a trend that it’s something worth keeping track of, especially if Jeffress is passed over for a particular inning simply because of the handedness of the hitters due up.

All that said, I expect a very strong contribution from Jeffress in 2015 as the Brewers hope to have a lock down bullpen securing the wins that the rest of the team has put them in place to grab.

You can follow Jeremy on Twitter: @JMontana41

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #22 Matt Garza

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Forgive me, but I’m a bit distracted as I write today what with the Wisconsin Badgers trying to win the BigTen Tournament and a pair of Brewers games in split-squad Cactus League action all happening simultaneously.

We’re 22 days away from Opening Day and if you don’t know how “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” works by now, I imagine you haven’t been by the blog before. Well, the man who wears jersey number 22 gets the focus today since we’re 22 days away from the Brewers’ first regular season game. So let’s take a look at…

Matt Garza.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Photo Day

Matthew Scott Garza is a 6’4″, 31-year-old, right-handed pitcher. A veteran of parts of nine Major League seasons, the Cal State – Fresno product debuted in The Show at age 22 for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins originally drafted Garza in the first round (25th overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Garza has appeared in big league games for five organizations now. In chronological order, they are the Twins, the Tampa Bay Rays (where he pitched a no-hitter), the Chicago Cubs, the Texas Rangers, and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Garza’s contract is something else, with what’s basically a built-in free year in the event that his occasional injury issues pop up too often in Milwaukee. That’s been well-chronicled here and other places, but the short version is that Garza already has a nearly insurmountable task to get his fifth year option to vest. If he misses much more time, there’s a chance that the Brewers could pay him an incredibly team friendly salary in 2018.

For Garza, he’ll be looking to improve on his 2014 numbers which injury avoidance would go a long way in aiding. To that end, Garza has modified his pitching mechanics. He believes that “staying within (himself)” will be key to both maintaining his command and limiting exposure to injuries. (That’s a good article by Adam McCalvy I linked to complete with video and worth your time.)

As for those numbers, Garza posted eight wins and losses in his 27 starts. His ERA was 3.64 in 163.1 innings of work. He had his lowest K/9 rate (6.9) since 2010 with Tampa Bay and saw his walk rate creep back up a little bit. That said, his WHIP was 1.182 and he was nearly as predicted with a 3.54 FIP. Garza continued his full-season streak of above league average performances as well finishing with a 104 ERA+.

Garza has always had the talent to do great things on the mound but being physically able to be out there doing it has been his biggest problem. His last three seasons have seen him pitch in 18, 24, and 27 seasons respectively. So while he’s certainly trending in the right direction lately, he still hasn’t eclipsed 30 starts since 2011 and hasn’t hit 200 innings pitched since 2010. It’s a major tip of the cap to Garza that he realizes this and worked in the off-season to come up with a plan to address it. Hopefully it yields immediate dividends for Garza once the regular season begins.

For the Brewers to compete in 2015, Garza will need to be at the top of his game and on the top of the pitcher’s mound.

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #24 Adam Lind

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Three touchdowns and three two point conversions is all that separates us from the most glorious of days which we call Opening Day. At least I think we do. I’ll have to check whether someone else beat me to it.

That’s right, math majors, we’re 24 days away from Opening Day at Miller Park on April 6 and as such I’m writing today about…

Adam Lind.

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Adam Alan Lind (name courtesy of his parents) is a 6’2″, left-handed hitting and throwing, first baseman who is 31 years old. He was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of South Alabama. Some of that information was retrieved from my brain. I learned it along the way from reading and hearing. Some of it came from Baseball-Reference.com and will any statistics I put hereafter.

Up until an off-season trade which sent Lind to Milwaukee in exchange for Marco Estrada, Lind had spent his entire career with the Blue Jays. His best season came in 2009 when Lind played in 151 games and hit .305/.370/.562 with career-highs in almost every statistical category. He even made an appearance in MVP balloting, finishing 15th, while winning a Silver Slugger Award. In the five seasons since, Lind played in 150, 125, 93, 146, and 96 games. That’s due to a variety of factors, but health has always been a dark cloud waiting to rain for Lind.

The 2014 season saw Lind only play in 96 games. He missed the second half of April and first week of May and then missed time again following the first week of July until August 12th. Lind’s overall stats in those 96 games look very good however the truth is in the splits. In a painfully small sample size (for a reason), Lind hit just .061/.162/.061 in 33 at-bats against left-handed pitching. That’s two hits (both singles) and four walks. Against right-handed pitching? That’s a horse of a different color. Lind mashed to .354/.409/.533 in 257 at-bats.

The latter of those two splits is part of what led to the Brewers targeting Lind after the Blue Jays acquired Justin Smoak from the Seattle Mariners, ostensibly making Lind expendable. The former is part of the reason why Lind was available at all. It also led to immediate speculation that Lind would need a platoon partner. The team confirmed that they were thinking about the same and that the plan would be to utilize their All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy some of the time. That said, they also wanted to give Lind a fair chance during Cactus League play to see with their own eyes if he is at all capable of handling lefty pitching.

That plan was delayed when Lind’s back reportedly locked up while fielding grounders at first. Lind missed a handful of days before finally debuting as the team’s designated hitter. He would go 0-for-2 with a walk on Thursday, March 12. Lind’s health could prove to be a pivotal thing in the Brewers’ chances of competing in 2015. They simply need him available far more often than he can’t go if they’re going to capitalize on his abilities.

Time will tell whether the trade was finally the answer to the question that’s plagued the Brewers since Prince Fielder left town following Milwaukee’s deep 2011 playoff run, that of course being who can play first base while being productive at the plate?

The options to question have been numerous but so far unsuccessful. Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, Taylor Green, Alex Gonzalez, Sean Halton, Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Matt Clark (who the jury is still out on), Hunter Morris. All couldn’t fill in the blank with their name. The Brewers hope they finally have their answer in Lind.

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Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’15 – #26 Kyle Lohse

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Late start to writing, no time for a fluffy open. We’re 26 days away so let’s talk…

Kyle Lohse.

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As we enter the third and final year of the contract negotiated between Scott Boras and Mark Attanasio in early 2013 for Kyle Lohse’s services, I could take this time to look back at Lohse’s career as a Milwaukee Brewer to this point. I’ll save the full analysis for Q4 2015, but for now allow me to remind everyone that how well Lohse would perform over these last two years wasn’t much of a question back in ’13 amongst “Brewers Twitter”. Instead, it revolved more around year three and the associated cost of the forfeited draft pick. Suffice it to say that Lohse has so far lived up to the financial outlay. And while the draft pick has largely been forgotten (as happens to draft picks), the upcoming Championship Season will tell the ultimate tale in many fans’ eyes for how the Lohse contract will be remembered.

It happens all the time, of course. A player can have a good or even great couple of years but if the lasting taste in a fan’s mouth is one of disdain, then the early successes will often be ignored. Lohse’s 2014 is under scrutiny here though, and it should be remembered that it was a good season for the veteran right-hander.

Lohse missed a couple of weeks in August after rolling his ankle while batting in an August 13 start against the Chicago Cubs but still managed to make 31 starts as the #2 starter for Ron Roenicke. He pitched 198.1 innings (just one out shy of matching his 2013 total) in one fewer game. Lohse recorded two shutouts on the season which were his only complete games. Lohse compiled the following stats as well: 1.0 HR/9, 3.13 K/BB, 1.150 WHIP and an ERA+ of 107. All that supported his winning 13 games with an ERA of 3.54. Notable was that Lohse struck out the second highest total in his career (141) in posting his best K/9 (6.4) since 2006 when he was a different pitcher in a different role.

2015 could very well be Lohse’s final year in Milwaukee. He’s getting older and though he’s still pitching well enough to continue his career, there comes a time when every athlete faces the decision of retiring. Should his play fall off or he suffer an injury, there’s a chance he may get pushed into things. Regardless, with 2015 being the final year of his now very reasonably priced contract, Lohse could look elsewhere to continue his career. Similarly, the Brewers could decide that someone among their younger crop of starting pitchers is ready to step into the rotation much like how they traded Yovani Gallardo to give a full-time spot to Jimmy Nelson prior to this off-season.

We should be able to expect steady results from Kyle Lohse once again in 2015, with hopefully a bit more health for both his sake and the sake of the Brewers. Topping 200 innings and making 33 starts would be a welcome increase out of the Brewers’ probably Opening Day starter.

As for the end, the final day of the 2015 regular season will be Lohse’s 37th birthday. Let’s hope we get to help him celebrate with confetti and preparations for postseason play returning to Milwaukee.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleLohse26

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