To preview the Arizona Diamondbacks next series starting today against the Milwaukee Brewers I exchanged five questions with Benjamin Orr, a staff writer at Fansided’s Brewers site, Reviewing the Brew to get an inside perspective of what the Brewers have been through this season. Here are Orr’s answers to the five questions I asked him.
Roberts: First off, how has the Brewer offense coped without one of it’s main catalysts in Prince Fielder helping Ryan Braun shoulder the load ?
Orr: Well, it’s been sluggish all season. While Fielder did add a lot, I don’t think even having him this year would make that huge of a difference considering how the rest of the line-up is doing. I wrote a few articles back on how Ryan Braun was really a one man team offensively. Aramis Ramirez has been turning a corner and has been batting around .314 for the month of June. Norichika Aoki started off great, that is when Ron Roenicke decided to finally start him, but his production has somewhat been at a standstill lately. Corey Hart has been hot then cold so the inconsistency hurts. As for the rest of the team, it’s been really abysmal. Rickie Weeks pretty much forgot how to hit and with the Brewers going through a plethora of first basemen and shortstops, it’s been hard to keep up constant production. Lately though, the bats seem to be waking up, but Braun is definitely still the driving point behind it. Hopefully whenever it is Jonathan Lucroy comes back, he can pick up where he left off.
Milwaukee Brewer outfielder, Ryan Braun, follows through on a hit against the Chicago White Sox during interleague play. Braun and the Brewers will play host to the Diamondbacks for a three-game series. (Image: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE)
Roberts: Offensively Braun has been having a good year, but who are the Brewers who aren’t household names anywhere other than Milwaukee that we should know about?
Orr: Well, it’s hard to say, but I’d have to say Norichika Aoki. This is Aoki’s first year in America and he’s done pretty well. As I mentioned before, he’s hit somewhat of a slump now, but the home runs he has been hitting has been surprising. Aoki is also really fast not only around the bases (as he did hit an inside the park home run this season), but in the outfield as well which makes him great because Roenicke can put him anywhere out there without worry. Pitching wise, I’d have to say Michael Fiers. Fiers made his debut in September last year and was called up to fill the pitching void when we lost Chris Narveson and then Marco Estrada (who is back and filling in for the injured Shaun Marcum). In his five starts this season, Fiers is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA and has accumulated 31 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched.
Roberts: What has happened to Yovani Gallardo this season, he seems to be struggling mightily despite normally being the staff ace. Why is that?
Orr: It’s not really that Gallardo has struggled, it’s just more or less his ERA ballooned after pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals twice so far this season. While Gallardo has struggled in division games, outside of those, his outings have been pretty fair, giving up three runs or less. He still goes long into games so it helps the team overall. He’s also been the victim of some tough luck losses, in which he only gave up two runs. I really have no concerns about Gallardo for the rest of the season because he’s been pretty decent outside of NL Central games and if he can continue to pitch well, we’re fortunate to have him alongside Zack Greinke.
Roberts: Zack Greinke has been pitching phenomenally all season, yet is being mentioned in just about every trade rumor regarding the Brew crew? Are the Brewers really going to be sellers this early in the season?
Orr: I doubt it. Greinke likes Milwaukee and we like him. While the downside would be losing Greinke, we would get quite a bit in return for him, but I doubt that he’s going anywhere before the trade deadline. If Greinke does go anywhere, it’ll be after the season when he’s a free agent. The Brewers’ front office has a mission of trying to resign both Greinke and Marcum after the season. In all honesty, they’re both good, but we’d rather try to keep Greinke if push comes to shove. If the Brewers are sellers on anyone, I’d actually say it’d be the back-up catcher George Kottaras. With Martin Maldonado doing well and Lucroy coming back sometime in mid-July, there’s no reason to have three MLB capable catchers on an NL roster so Kottaras will more than likely be the odd man out.
Roberts: The Brewers are leading the league in one of the strangest statistics in baseball: hit by pitches. Why do you think they are getting plunked so much?
Orr: I really couldn’t tell you, but the one player in particular that gets hit a lot is Rickie Weeks. I think maybe they’re leaning into pitches to get on base because the offense has been so sub par this season. Okay, that was a joke. Honestly, it’s very strange and it’s just bad, or good luck, however you want to put it. It helps the OBP rise for players and really, as long as it doesn’t cause a season ending injury, the Brewers need more baserunners.
I want to thank Benjamin Orr for taking the time to answer my questions and all the Brewer fans which have read this article. We wish you luck in the three-game series and hope it will be a good one. The series begins tonight at 5:10 p.m. MST with Arizona’s Ian Kennedy
taking the mound against Milwaukee’s Randy Wolf
To read my answers to Orr’s questions make sure you check out Reviewing the Brew at Noon EST on June 28.
Topics: Aramis Ramirez, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chris Narveson, Corey Hart, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Estrada, Matin Maldonado, Michael Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers, Norichika Aoki, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Shaun Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke