What's going on with the Brewers?
There wasn't much going on with the Brewers until an incident occurred last night in Atlanta. Milwaukee was just playing out the stretch like the Mets and trying to stay optimistic about 2014. If Carlos Gomez hadn't clubbed a home run off of Paul Maholm on Wednesday night, I might have had to write about something dull in this space. Ryan Braun's suspension has been a pretty big national story this year, so that was a possibility. PEDs are bad, lying is bad, and Braun is going to be underrated heading into next season. There are certainly worse players for the Brewers to be locked into a contract with.
Anyway, what makes the Gomez story interesting ins't just that he has a history of conflict with Maholm or that Atlanta catcher Brian McCann absurdly incited a bench-clearing situation by standing in front of home plate. It's that the Braves just got done whining about a similar confrontation with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. Baseball analysts are going to be talking today about how Gomez doesn't respect the game, but what they should be talking about is why McCann and the Braves are so darn sensitive opponents not rushing to first base after they hit home runs. In a world where Manny Machado just tore a ligament by barely running to first base, let's just allow these players to take their time around the bases. Baseball can be fun sometimes, but I suppose the Braves would prefer if it wasn't.
Who are these guys?
Scooter Gennett is a 23-year-old, left-handed second base prospect who has been a bright spot in Milwaukee's otherwise dismal season. He was called up in early June to help out at the keystone while Rickie Weeks was scuffling, but he really didn't start crushing the ball since his second call-up in late July. Although he hasn't been allowed to hit lefties very often this season, his .328/.362/.495 line is nevertheless impressive. John Sickels has more on Gennett in a recent profile over at Minor League Ball. Just in case he turns into the future version of Chipper Jones, Gennett's real first name is "Ryan."
Khris Davis is another Brewers prospect who as acquitted himself quite well in the majors this season. Although Davis actually started the 2013 season with the big league club, he didn't start to see serious playing time until after the Braun suspension opened up a position in Milwaukee's outfield. Once Davis became a regular, he really took off, and has only needed 129 at-bat to hit 10 home runs this season. Plus, the unusual spelling of his first name is finally starting to pay off, as it is a lot harder than it could have been to confuse Davis with the Orioles slugger Chris Davis.
Who's on the mound?
Thursday: Johnny Hellweg vs. Dillon Gee
Hellweg has only thrown 26.1 innings this season in the majors, but the Mets have seen him before. Back on July 5, Hellweg was a spot starter for the Brewers in the teams' first meeting of 2013. In that outing, the 24-year-old right-handed pitcher allowed three earned runs in 3.2 innings while walking five batters and striking out none. Unfortunately that outing was not an outlier for Hellweg, who has struggled to keep batters off the basepaths since coming to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade last season. The youngster can throw heat and reportedly has a good curveball, but his 81 walks in 125.2 Triple-A innings this season is something that desperately calls for improvement.
Friday: Yovani Gallardo vs. Carlos Torres
Brewers General manager Doug Melvin is probably glad that he has one year left on Gallardo's contract before the 27-year-old Mexican hits free agency. That's because Gallardo hasn't exactly made it clear this season whether or not he's a valuable cog in Milwaukee's future. Once considered the team's staff ace, Gallardo has looked ordinary and even bad at times this season, and his strikeouts-per-nine rate has shrunk from 9.00 in 2012 to just 7.11 this year. Gallardo's 1.5 fWAR in 2013 is the lowest in his big league career, but he's looked like his old self for over a month now. Brewers fans will hope that Gallardo can carry his solid play forward and either earn a long-term contract or be used as trade bait in 2014.
Saturday: Jimmy Nelson vs. Aaron Harang
Nelson just turned 24 years old and will be making his first major league start against the Mets this weekend. The right-handed pitcher is a little more highly regarded than Hellweg, and rightfully so. With Nashville of the Pacific Coast League this season, Nelson has 91 strikeouts and 50 walks in 83.1 innings. That walk rate is only a little better than what Hellweg was doing in the minors, but Nelson also pitched 69 innings in Double-A this year with 15 walks and 72 strikeouts. That's a great sign for the young starter, whose high walk rate in Double-A in 2012 is an indication of his ability to adapt his pitching to match more advanced hitting.
Sunday: Marco Estrada vs. ???
Like Gallardo, Estrada has pitched much more effectively since the trade deadline passed. In 51.2 innings in August and September, he has 49 walks and 11 strikeouts, which is a good enough ratio for any team to have at the back end of the rotation. That's not where Estrada is on the depth chart right now, but he could be there sometime in the near future. He has two years of team control left, and the Brewers would just love it if Hellweg, Nelson, and Wily Peralta took over the top three spots in the rotation by the time Estrada is up for free agency.
How about some GIFs?
Wilfredo Tovar made a nice diving catch on Tuesday night to rob New Jersey native Todd Frazier of a base hit.
Former Met Gomez robbed former Met Marlon Byrd of a home run in New York's first meeting with the Brewers this season.
Norichika Aoki sent the Mets scurrying to a corner of the dugout with a flurry of foul balls on July 7.