Brewers blank Rangers; Analysis

Lewis Brinson at the plate at Surprise Stadium in Arizona (Brewers.com)

After losing both a pitching duel and a shootout in their first two games of Cactus League action, the Milwaukee Brewers finally put it all together in a 5–0 shutout of the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium in Arizona. Terrific pitching from a total of seven Brewers resulted in the Rangers only managing three hits and four total baserunners altogether. The Brewers offense, led by rising star Lewis Brinson, woke up in the fifth inning with a pair of runs, which would be all they would need on the day. The Crew would tack on three more in the later innings and would go on to shut out the Ranger offense, leading to a 5–0 victory and the club’s first in Cactus League play. In the long run, however, individual performance trumps victories in spring training and so, without further ado, here are a few standout performers from today’s game.

Lewis Brinson Continues To Flash Star Potential

If the first few games of spring training are any indication, it won’t be long before Lewis Brinson is a household name in the big leagues. Brinson, who went 3 for 3 on Monday with an RBI, is batting .750 thus far in spring training action. In his first action with the club against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Brinson flashed his power when by homering twice in the 11–0 thrashing of the Panthers. His continued success against increasingly talented pitching may be an indication that he is already headed towards promotion to the big league ball club from AAA Colorado Springs. As was mentioned in yesterday’s review, the Brewers already have an extremely crowded outfield as it is; however, if Brinson keeps up at the pace he has set thus far into spring, it’s going to be hard to keep him in AAA for much longer. It is important to note that Brinson will be tried out at all three outfield positions this spring, an encouraging fact for his major league prospects; if he can serve as a utility outfielder he could be invaluable to the Crew. Expect to see Lewis Brinson in a Brewers uniform in the regular season sooner than later.

Brewers Catchers Continue To Struggle At The Plate

After trading Jonathan Lucroy to the Texas Rangers in August of last year, the Brewers immediately struggled to find an offensive replacement for the ever-consistent Lucroy to man the backstop. Martin Maldonado was a wonderful defensive catcher, but his production at the plate left much to be desired. In order to address this concern, Brewers’ General Manager David Searns brought in three catchers to compete for the starting gig; Jett Bandy, who was acquired in a trade that sent Maldonado to Anaheim, Andrew Susac, who was also acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Giants, and finally Many Pina, who was traded to Milwaukee in 2015. Bandy and Pina have already showed off their defensive prowess in the last two games; Bandy threw out two runners on steal attempts in the first inning of Sunday’s loss and Pina tossed out another in today’s ballgame. However, all four catchers on the roster (including prospect Jacob Nottingham) have struggled at the dish thus far. In the last two games, for instance, the four catchers were a combined one for nine at the plate (a .111 average). If the past couple games are any indication, the Brewers once again seem to be headed towards a platoon behind the plate with a focus on defense and little production on offense.

Impressive Brewers Pitching Throughout

Any time a shutout is thrown in Major League Baseball it is impressive, especially in the confines of spring training where pitchers only throw an inning or two and are pulled, never getting a chance to get into a groove. Therefore, it’s only fair that we mention all the pitchers who contributed today. Potential opening day starter Junior Guerra started the game with a single inning; he struck out two and looked in midseason form already. Guerra was followed by Brewers’ top pitching prospect Josh Hader, who impressed in an inning of work. Following him were one inning each from relievers Corey Knebel and Jhan Marinez, who both fanned two batters each. Tyler Cravy then entered the game in the fifth inning and threw two innings of hitless baseball. Upon his exit, 28 year old Stephen Kohlscheen subsequently threw another two innings, striking out three more Rangers. Nick Ramirez threw the ninth inning, capping off the combined shutout and three hitter. The stock of each and every one of the pitchers who threw today increased and it will be intriguing to see if the Crew continue to pitch as well as they have in three of their first four spring training games.

Next Game: Tuesday, February 27th at 2:05 PM vs. Kansas City — Zach Davies will get the start for the Brewers

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