The Milwaukee Brewers won again yesterday (at least they beat the Cardinals!), which makes it four in a row, and eight of their last ten. They’re now 15 games over .500 and are tied with the Astros for the third best winning percentage in baseball.
- And that’s not all – FiveThirtyEight now puts their odds of making the playoffs at 76%, which is just barely below the Cubs’ chances (77%). The Cubs are still the favorites for the division (44%), but by just a hair (Brewers – 40%) – though I’ll point out that FanGraphs isn’t nearly as optimistic for Milwaukee taking the division (13.7%).
- So how are they doing it? Well, at MLB.com, Adam McCalvy takes a statistical look into the first third of the Brewers season, pointing out that the rotation has mostly been below average: “Brewers starters were eighth in the NL with a 1.30 WHIP, 10th with a 4.19 ERA and 14th with 7.16 K/9,” while the offense has only been in the middle of the pack (though trending upward). Instead, it’s the bullpen, led by Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress, that has really dominated (1st in WAR and ERA, second in FIP). Indeed, both Hader (1.7 WAR, 1st) and Jeffress (1.0 WAR, 8th) rank among the top ten most valuable relievers this season, but it’s important to point that Hader has been used a lot already (31.1 IP, 7th most in MLB). Perhaps he’ll slow down, but having already earned 1.7 WAR as a reliever at this point in the season is truly phenomenal.
- Joe Trezza answers fan questions at Cardinals.com, discussing, most notably, the latest on Yadier Molina: “Molina (pelvic injury) is not traveling with the team, but he was in the clubhouse and dugout several times over the last homestand. He’s still being advised to rest, and hasn’t begun baseball activities.” Trezza went onto explain that the Cardinals would consider it “a blessing” to have him back before the All-Star break.
- That’s the bad news. The good news (for them) is that the Cardinals are expecting Alex Reyes to return to the rotation this Wednesday, after throwing his bullpen session yesterday. And pitching coach Mike Maddux is apparently quite impressed (St. Louis Post-Dispatch): “It’s good when he tees it up on Wednesday because I’m really looking forward to seeing it’s a four-pitch mix and all pitches are good and then you factor in the plus-stuff that he has — it’s pretty much any pitch at any count and hitters have a handful.” Maddux said the biggest issue Reyes will face this week is tempering his excitement. If he can keep it under control, it’ll be “a lot of fun to watch.” Says you. For what it’s worth, Reyes dominated in his minor league rehab appearances in a way few recovering pitchers do.
- From that same article, the Cardinals are expecting to make a decision on whether or not to send Dexter Fowler to the disabled list later today. Fowler has a bruised right knee, but said he felt a little better yesterday.
- Pirates reliever Felipe Vazquez wasn’t available against the Cubs yesterday (forearm discomfort), but could pitch later today.
- Frustration in Pittsburgh:
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) May 28, 2018
- The Braves placed super-duper prospect Ronald Acuna on the disabled list yesterday after he suffered a mild ACL sprain in his left knee and a lower back contusion over the weekend. The general consensus seems to be that the diagnosis is not as bad as initially feared – the video looked gross – so this could be something of a best case scenario. Acuna, 20, was hitting .265/.326/.453 with 5 HRs in his Major League debut. I hope he comes back quickly, because he’s one of the most promising young players baseball has had in a while (although Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. probably have something to say about that).
- Ditto Gleyber Torres, who know has nine home runs in just 117 plate appearances this season, leading to a .317/.379/.606 slash line. Notably, his .288 ISO is FAR higher than anything he posted in the Minor Leagues, and is perhaps indicative of some latently developing power as he grows into his body (which isn’t at all uncommon). Oh, and the day before Torres hit his 9th homer (which concluded a streak of five long balls in four days), FanGraphs discussed his emerging power and he is helping the Yankees in their pursuit of the team home run record. To be clear, FanGraphs has noticed some concerns for Torres, particularly his strike zone management and whiff rate, but at his age, and given how well he’s been doing, it’s hard to take issue.
- Twins right-hander Ervin Santana is beginning his Minor League rehab assignment to day at High-A:
Ervin will start Tuesday for @MiracleBaseball
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) May 28, 2018
- The Twins probably had some dreams of contending this season, but after starting the year out at 22-27, they aren’t looking too hot. Moreover, while their rotation will get an upgrade in Santana when he returns, that’s really not been their problem this season (3.6 WAR, 12th in MLB).
- Along the same lines, Shelby Miller (13 months out from Tommy John surgery) is also starting his Minor League rehab assignment tonight. According to MLB Trade Rumors, it’s not yet known how long his comeback will take, but the rule allows for up to 30 days. Given how long he’s been away, I have a feeling the Diamondbacks will take it slowly. The Diamondbacks are currently 1.5 games out of first in the NL West and if Miller’s new numbers are closer to the progress he made in 2017, he might be able to help.
- Tim Lincecum, who’s already on a Minor League rehab assignment with the Rangers, is going to stay on a Minor League rehab assignment, but the clock is starting to tick:
Tim Lincecum will remain on rehab assignment, manager Jeff Banister said. #Rangers have until June 5 to reinstate from 60-day DL.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) May 28, 2018
- Lincecum has pitched out of the Rangers Triple-A bullpen in eight games this season, but has been far too wild (14.3% walk rate) to show any sort of promise. Maybe they’ll give him a chance once his time is up, but I’m guessing this might also be the end of the road for him – at least in Texas.