The Brewers Against Elite Pitching

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Ron Roenicke says the Brewers have the bats to hit elite pitching, and while they’ve been struggling over the past couple weeks, he’s not wrong. The Brewers can — and have — hit elite pitching well at times this season, even if it seems like they never do.

Looking at a starter’s Game Score isn’t all that scientific, but for this exercise it works fine. Here’s a list of starters that have had Game Scores below 50 (the starting/break-even point) against Milwaukee this year:

3/31 Edinson Volquez (41)
4/6 Mike Minor (27)
4/7 Tommy Hanson (43)
4/8 Carlos Zambrano (44)
4/9 Matt Garza (38)
4/10 Casey Coleman (34)
4/13 Kevin Correia (41)
4/19 Roy Halladay (31)
4/20 Cliff Lee (46)

4/22 Nelson Figueroa (23)
4/23 Brett Myers (36)
4/24 Wandy Rodriguez (47)
4/27 Sam LeCure (38)
5/9 Mat Latos (41)
5/10 Clayton Richard (10)
5/11 Tim Stauffer (31)
5/13 James McDonald (34)
5/15 Kevin Correia (21)
5/16 Jon Garland (47)
5/18 Dustin Moseley (47)
5/20 Jason Hammel (47)
5/23 Tom Gorzelanny (32)
5/25 Jason Marquis (43)
5/29 Matt Cain (35)
5/30 Travis Wood (48)
5/31 Chad Reineke (38)
6/1 Mike Leake (49)
6/3 Ricky Nolasco (47)
6/5 Anibal Sanchez (35)
6/6 Javier Vazquez (27)
6/10 Kyle Lohse (39)
6/11 Chris Carpenter (44)
6/12 Jake Westbrook (34)
6/14 Randy Wells (45)
6/15 Carlos Zambrano (38)
6/16 Matt Garza (40)
6/24 Scott Baker (42)
6/25 Francisco Liriano (24)
6/26 Carl Pavano (40)
7/3 Nick Blackburn (27)
7/4 Daniel Hudson (26)
7/7 Homer Bailey (35)
7/8 Mike Leake (36)
7/9 Johnny Cueto (47)
7/16 Jhoulys Chacin (43)
7/17 Aaron Cook (34)
7/19 Barry Enright (23)
7/22 Matt Cain (43)
7/23 Ryan Vogelsong (46)
7/28 Randy Wells (40)
7/30 J.A. Happ (39)
7/31 Brett Myers (48)
8/1 Chris Carpenter (37)
8/2 Jaime Garcia (33)
8/3 Edwin Jackson (18)
8/5 J.A. Happ (23)
8/6 Brett Myers (32)
8/7 Bud Norris (28)
8/9 Edwin Jackson (50)
8/12 Paul Maholm (39)
8/19 Mike Pelfrey (37)
8/20 Chris Capuano (39)
8/23 Ross Ohlendorf (24)
8/27 Ryan Dempster (29)
8/31 Jake Westbrook (42)
9/1 Brandon Dickson (38)
9/3 Bud Norris (32)

There are plenty of scrub starters on that list, but they have beat up on some pretty good pitchers, too. Have the Brewers struggled against elite pitching lately? Yes. But there’s a difference between the Brewers struggling against the game’s top pitchers now and the Brewers always struggling against them — the latter is pretty clearly untrue, based on how many times they’ve teed off against Cain, Carpenter, and others this year.

Pitchers like those on Philadelphia’s staff are considered elite because they can shut good offenses down. The Brewers (or anyone else) are going to struggle against those types more often than not — especially when they’ve been missing one of their biggest offensive weapons for over a month.

The Brewers Against Elite Pitching

One might not have guessed that the Brewers would fair as well as they did last night against the seemingly untouchable Roy Halladay when in fact it wasn’t just an unlucky BABIP fit Roy encountered — the Brewers have a history of competing exceptionally well against “elite” national league pitching.

In 2010, for example, Halladay faced the Brewers once and went a laboring 7 innings, in which he gave up a resounding 4 HR’s (all solo shots), 7 hits total, 2 walks, and 4 earned runs. In fact, Weeks, Fielder, Braun, and the soon-returning Corey Hart all average out to a lofty 1.625 OPS vs Halladay, and although the sample size is rather insignificant, it does translate onto a few other well-above average hurlers.

Tim Lincecum also has had some trouble with the Brewers in his 7 games against them.  Here are his career numbers vs the Brewers:
4.62 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .238 BAA, 2-3 W-L overall.

The aforementioned combination of hitters muster up a .909 OPS against the “Freak”.

Onto a division opponent, here’s are the career numbers for Chris Carpenter vs Milwaukee:
4.87 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .277 BAA, 4-4 overall W-L

As for the core hitters vs Chris: 1.228 OPS against.

As the Brewers forge ahead in 2011, it’s comforting to see just how capable they are offensively versus more than formidable opposition. 

GM Doug Melvin has always known that offense is never (really) the problem for the Brewers, but uncovering just how capable they are, it’s no wonder why competitive pitching was so sought-after last winter.

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