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Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?

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Offline  Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#1

Posted: May 15, 2017, 9:22 AM Post
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I know what you're thinking, pitching is bad because most of the pitching staff is...well...pretty horrible.

But I was digging through stats, and saw lots of things you would expect to see. Near the bottom of MLB in a whole host of categories. So I dug a little deeper to try to get an idea of what is happening.

First, and again no surprise, starts don't go very deep into games. Dead last in MLB in Quality Starts. Far from a perfect stat to use, but I think useful in this case. If the starters regularly gave you 6+ innings with 3 runs, Brewers would be way out in 1st place. This puts a lot of pressure on a bullpen that is probably not THAT bad, but gets exposed when they have to cover this many innings.

They are 5th in BB/9, another huge cause of their problems. Then I came across something I thought what very interesting. Brewers are 4th in all of MLB in % of fastballs, and 2nd to last in % of change-ups. That really got my attention. And I think it helps explain at least part of the problem. When teams can just dig in and look for fastballs, that's not going to end well.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#2

Posted: May 15, 2017, 9:41 AM Post
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I think the biggest problem with the Brewers' pitching staff is the same thing it was last season: the defense. It's better than it was, but still often headache inducing, especially on the right side of the diamond. And not just errors - the corner outfielding has generally been pretty brutal in terms of getting/throwing balls. Their team BABIP is second-worst in baseball, at .321, which is just .001 better than the worst team. That's about 30 points of average higher than median. That's significant.

But I don't think the pitching staff has been that bad. Mediocre might be how I'd describe them. The most basic way to compare pitching staffs is ERA. The MLB average ERA is 4.13, the Brewers' team ERA is 4.25. That's 19th overall. Team FIP and xFIP is nearly identical. BPro has them 23rd in team PWARP, B-R has them 19th in their version of WAR, and Fangraphs has them at 12th. They need to get better at not walking people, but they're also doing decently at not giving up home runs and stranding the people who do get on base.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#3

Posted: May 15, 2017, 9:49 AM Post
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Maybe mediocre overall, but the problem is the trend has been worse. Remember they started off very strong with 2 very good outings from Peralta, Nelson, and Anderson. It's really gone south since then. My theory is teams have figured out they don't throw any off-speed pitches, and when they do they won't be strikes. So just sit dead-red and smash it, and if you get something off-speed take your walk.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#4

Posted: May 15, 2017, 10:24 AM Post
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Has there been any analysis of Pena or Bandy's pitch framing? Lucroy was a master at it, so if the pitchers are not getting the borderline calls they were in previous years, they either wind up walking people or coming in with something too hittable.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#5

Posted: May 15, 2017, 10:36 AM Post
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According to BPro, Bandy has been worth -1.2 framing runs and Pina has been worth 2.2.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#6

Posted: May 15, 2017, 2:57 PM Post
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I don't think it's one thing. Anderson and Davies have to have very good location to succeed and have not been doing that as well as they need to. Peralta's fastballs are good enough to get by without great location but he doesn't have the offspeed stuff/location to be effective IMHO. Nelson I think is doing pretty much what you would expect out of a mid rotation pitcher. You can't expect mid rotation talent to be an ace just because you don't have better options. Garze meanwhile, has been better than expected. As far as the short outings go some of that has to do with Counsell. He doesn't let pitchers go deep into games all that often even if they are doing ok. He'll pull a guy in the fifth with 90 pitches and 4 earned runs when he could leave them in for another inning. Some managers will try to squeeze another inning out of starters in that situation some don't.

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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#7

Posted: May 15, 2017, 3:06 PM Post
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Honestly I feel like the catchers are a bit to blame sometimes. They are the ones calling the game and a lot of times calling what to throw and where. Sometimes you are just left scratching your head why we are having 0-2 pitches over the plate among many other things. Real headscatchers sometimes.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#8

Posted: May 15, 2017, 3:07 PM Post
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I know Anderson has not been very good his last 2 starts, but a few people have posted now in ways that suggest he's been as awful as Peralta has been. I'm a little confused where this is coming from, other than the last two starts?


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#9

Posted: May 15, 2017, 3:26 PM Post
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MrTPlush said:
Honestly I feel like the catchers are a bit to blame sometimes. They are the ones calling the game and a lot of times calling what to throw and where. Sometimes you are just left scratching your head why we are having 0-2 pitches over the plate among many other things. Real headscatchers sometimes.


But how true is that anymore? How much of the game is called from the bench? Either way, I don't anyone is calling for meatballs over the plate on 0-2 pitches.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#10

Posted: May 15, 2017, 3:33 PM Post
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Based on the number of strikeouts that our lineup was racking up in April, I've paid more attention to accumulated walks and strikeouts in 2017. Our pitching staff needs to cut down on the number of walks that we issue. Our defense is bad enough that we can't issue free passes.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#11

Posted: May 15, 2017, 4:21 PM Post
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What everyone else said but in addition to that the Brewers lead all of baseball in extra base hit% against their pitchers. 40% of the hits given up by the team have been extra base hits which is a ton.

20% K rate
9.6% BB rate
9.7% extra base hits

So we have a low K rate staff that walks too many, gives up a lot of extra base hits and has a bad defense. Not a good recipe. The one plus is we have induced a lot of double plays and have a good GB%.

Going into the season I thought the pitching would be awful and then our "ace" went down. So the fact we have been above league average is a plus to me.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#12

Posted: May 15, 2017, 4:30 PM Post
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Ennder said:
The one plus is we have induced a lot of double plays and have a good GB%.



I thought I read at some point in time that double plays are as much or more an indication that your team is allowing a lot of base runners than an indicator of good defense.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#13

Posted: May 15, 2017, 4:39 PM Post
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Actually, it hasn't been that bad, when it comes down to it.... they've got a 104 ERA+ this season, so they've actually been above average on that aspect.

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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#14

Posted: May 15, 2017, 5:15 PM Post
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It's bad primarily because they have exactly 0 reliable pitchers, which means they need a lot of new guys to come in before it can be considered a playoff quality staff. There are enough decent arms to fill out the back end of a rotation and the backend of a bullpen.....but even then those guys we'd be using would have a short track record of success, so relying on whoever pitches well in those spots to continue to pitch well into future seasons would be a significant gamble.

We aren't alone in this problem though. Pitching is fickle.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#15

Posted: May 15, 2017, 5:25 PM Post
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Baldkin said:
Actually, it hasn't been that bad, when it comes down to it.... they've got a 104 ERA+ this season, so they've actually been above average on that aspect.


The amount of runs given up isn't too bad, as you say. What's worrying is that we've been getting lucky. We have the highest batting average against (.274), highest WHIP (1.47), highest OPS against (.804). Basically, we allow a LOT of baserunners. So far we've gotten a lot of key double plays and we've stranded a lot of runners. But these things catch up to you. If you allow a lot of baserunners, and also allow a lot of hits, then sooner or later that will turn into runs allowed.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#16

Posted: May 15, 2017, 5:41 PM Post
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MadScientist said:
Has there been any analysis of Pena or Bandy's pitch framing? Lucroy was a master at it, so if the pitchers are not getting the borderline calls they were in previous years, they either wind up walking people or coming in with something too hittable.



I know there have been several times I've been watching...and Bandy has done it as well, but Pina more so...he moves the glove immediately after a close call to transfer and throw the ball back. There was a pitch that was inside over the weekend series where both the catcher and pitcher thought it was a strike and both started to walk off. This was a ball I believe Luc would have gotten a K on. Pina was set up inside, he caught the ball without moving his glove much, but as soon as he caught it he dropped his glove and stopped up and got ready to walk off the field.

They don't have to be Lucroy...but man,I think both really struggle in this area of the game. They loook pretty damn good in other area's thus far, but poor when it comes to recieving the ball. Plus Pina is reaching too often when he doesn't need to.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#17

Posted: May 15, 2017, 6:21 PM Post
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I agree with And That, this is a defense thing. The Brewers rate slightly above average at SS and below average to abysmal everywhere else by UZR. Broxton' s injury likely has not helped him, but everyone else is not that surprising.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#18

Posted: May 15, 2017, 7:12 PM Post
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I guess I'm kind of surprised to see that the Brewers' defense ranks so badly because eye-test wise they haven't really seemed that bad to me. Shaw has seemed like a pretty good player there, Arcia has been mostly as expected, both catchers have seemed more than defensively capable. Even Villar after the horrid start has seemed fine to me since the first week.

The only one who really strikes me as a defensive butcher is Santana, which isn't surprising, but I haven't really been overly concerned watching anyone else defensively. I'm not saying that the defensive metrics are wrong, but they're certainly surprising to me.

Watching a defensive infield of Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGehee in a year we won 96 games, it's hard to believe this D isn't defensively superior.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#19

Posted: May 15, 2017, 7:33 PM Post
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It's not the routine stuff/range for me so much, it's the mental lapses, especially at inopportune times. The Brewers do have the third most errors in basebal, FWIW.


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Offline  Re: Brewers' Pitching- Why is it so bad?
#20

Posted: May 15, 2017, 8:24 PM Post
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And That said:
It's not the routine stuff/range for me so much, it's the mental lapses, especially at inopportune times. The Brewers do have the third most errors in baseball, FWIW.

More errors means more pitches thrown in an inning/game, which means pitchers get tired sooner. Tired pitchers make more mistakes, mistakes get hit (or don't find the strike zone).

Maybe the pitchers are getting cold sitting on the bench while the offense scores so many runs. (/half blue)


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