Brewers’ Pitching Staff Missing Bats Early

With the rainout giving me more free time than I had anticipated, I decided to take a look at some of the numbers through the team’s first 10 games. It’s an admittedly tiny sample size, but there are still some interesting things I stumbled across, especially when it comes to the pitchers drawing swinging strikes.

Heading into Tuesday night, Yovani Gallardo had the 7th-lowest swinging strike percentage in the majors among qualified players, at 5.0%. Considering Yo’s past numbers (8.6% SwStr% for his career, 8.4% last year), there’s a very good chance that it’s just an early-season fluke, but it’s still a little alarming to see him rank that low after three starts — guys like Doug Fister and Brandon McCarthy are some of the names surrounding him. It won’t tell us much moving forward, but it does tell as that so far his stuff hasn’t been fooling many hitters. John Axford is in the same boat, only inducing swinging strikes 3.7% of the time so far this year after posting a career-high 11.1% last season.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chris Narveson‘s 16.0% SwStr% is the highest in the league, beating out some big strikeout names like Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Garza, and Edwin Jackson. Like Gallardo’s unusually-low SwStr% through three starts, Narveson’s high rate through two starts is sure to eventually come back down to earth (I don’t see the Phillies missing as much as the Braves and Cubs did). Narveson’s career rate is actually very similar to Gallardo’s, though — 8.5% for his career, 8.1% last year — so he’ll still get his fair share of swinging strikes, especially if his changeup continues to be this good.

Other guys inducing a high numer of whiffs early on include Kameron Loe (13.4%), whose sinker has been incredible early on, and Shaun Marcum (12.8%), who’s been effectively wild in the early going.

As a team, Brewers pitchers are tied for the 9th-highest SwStr% in the league, at 9.2%. They also have allowed the 6th-lowest Contact% (percentage of contact made on swings) so far, at 78.9%. Considering the poor lineup of defenders behind them, it’s a good thing the pitchers have been doing such a good job of making hitters miss and keeping the ball out of play. It’s likely a big reason why the defense hasn’t seemed to hurt the team as much as expected in the early going, but it’s also too soon to determine if this is something that will continue.

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