Tag Archives: Eric Thames

Brewers and Cardinals cut NL Wildcard deficit to just two games

The Milwaukee Brewers made the Pittsburgh Pirates walk the plank by an 8-2 margin on Wednesday at Miller Park.

Meanwhile in Saint Louis on Thursday, the host Cardinals flew past the Cincinnati Reds for a 5-2 victory.

With their respective wins, both the Brew Crew and the Cards have now pulled within just two games in the loss column of the final NL Wildcard playoff berth.

That spot has been held for months by the Colorado Rockies, who were shut out by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. The Dbacks control the top NL Wildcard, with their Magic Number down to 8 in order to clinch an MLB postseason berth.

A two-run homer off the bat of Eric Thames in the bottom of the 3rd inning broke a 1-1 tie for Milwaukee. Brett Phillips added a two-run single later in the frame as the Brewers chased young Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow.

For the Cardinals, rookie Luke Weaver tossed a gem. He allowed just two hits and an unearned run over six innings, striking out six Cincy batters. Tommy Pham’s 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the 5th inning, broke open a tight contest.

The 24-year old Weaver was quoted by Jenifer Longasch for MLB.com on his key performance in the midst of a playoff race:

“I know it’s a big deal, but I try to downplay it in my mind and think of it was another game. It doesn’t change my mentality when I go out there. I want to stay aggressive and be strong and put up a great performance.”

Out in the Arizona desert, the high-powered Rockies lineup was kept in check by 27-year old Dbacks starter Zack Godley. The righty scattered five hits across eight strong innings, striking out seven without surrendering a walk.

Dbacks skipper Torey Lovullo was quoted by Jarrid Denney for MLB.com following the game:

“I know that there are a few teams that are right there; right on out heels. It’s not just the Rockies that we’re concerned about in the standings. But we placed all that aside at the right time of the day to go out and execute. We’re not paralyzed by what’s going on around us. I’m happy that these guys are eliminating the noise.”

The Rockies now will host the San Diego Padres this weekend at Coors Field. That series begins a stretch in which Colorado will play teams at least 10 games under the .500 mark (San Diego, San Francisco, Miami) in a dozen straight games.

The Brewers are in Miami this weekend, so the Marlins will have a real chance to play spoiler down the stretch. After that it will be three in Pittsburgh. The Brewers return home for a four-game long weekend set with the Chicago Cubs next Thursday.

The Cardinals play host to those arch-rival Cubs this weekend at Busch Stadium. It begins a nine-game road trip that will continue next week in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson is now the hunter

Anderson has gone from being the hunted to the hunter in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t fielded a winning team since the 2014 season. It has been six years since the 2011 Brew Crew won 96 games and the NL Central Division crown. That was the most recent contending seasons for the club.
Thus far in the 2017 season, the Brewers are off to a .500 start at 16-16. They are still hanging around in the division race, a game and a half out of first place as we move through the second week of May.
Much of the credit for the Brewers’ more competitive start has rightly gone to surprising slugger Eric Thames. The first baseman signed as a free agent this past offseason after four years away from Major League Baseball, the last three of those playing in Korea.
Thames has given Milwaukee an offensive threat to team with Ryan Braun, the likes of which haven’t been seen on the banks of Lake Michigan since Prince Fielder left following that 2011 campaign.
But as any baseball fan knows, you can have all the hitting in the world, and your team will not win if it cannot compete on the mound.

FOURTH YEAR STARTER EMERGING

Right-hander Chase Anderson has emerged early on this season as Thames’ surprise counterpart among the pitching staff.
A Texas native, Anderson was a fourth round choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He came to Milwaukee in a January 2016 trade along with Aaron Hill and prospect Isan Diaz in exchange for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner.
Now in his fourth big league season, the 29-year-old Anderson entered this year with a career mark of 24-24 over his first 79 starts in the major leagues. His typical ERA has been north of the 4.00 mark.
Thus far in the 2017 season, Anderson is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.212 WHIP mark. He has allowed 30 hits over 34.2 innings with a 30/12 K:BB ratio.
Anderson’s K/BB ratio of 2.50, his K/9 rate of 7.8 and his BB/9 rate of 3.1 are all right along with his career marks to this point. Sometimes a nice ERA can be deceptive. But Anderson also has a fine 2.77 FIP mark and a 153 ERA+ on his stat line. So what has been the difference?
One bugaboo for Anderson in the past has been a propensity to surrender home runs on a far too frequent basis. He served up 62 long balls in 418.2 innings over his first three seasons.
But to this point, Anderson has yielded just one homer. After giving up 25 bombs a year ago, he is on a pace to allow just five this season.

MORE AGGRESSIVE MENTALITY

In late April, Anderson was quoted by Todd Rosiak with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on an improved mental aspect of his approach to the game:

“I think it goes back to the mentality of being the hunter and not the hunted,” Rosiak quotes the pitcher. 

“(Pitching coach Derek Johnson) harps on that a lot. He tells me to just go out there and attack the strike zone and that my stuff’s good enough, and that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t.”

The lone homer that he has surrendered thus far in 2017 came in his very first start of the year. On April 6, Mark Reynolds of the Colorado Rockies tagged him in the third inning at Miller Park.
Since that time, Anderson is working on a streak of 27 consecutive innings without allowing a ball to leave the yard. It has clearly been a key to the overall improvement in his results.
Things haven’t been all rosy for Anderson. His last two starts have been less than stellar, as he allowed four earned runs to both the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. Against the division-rival Cards, Anderson lasted just 4.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season thus far.
The improvement that Anderson showed on the mound over his first handful of starts was noticeable. If he simply continues to keep the ball in the park, he will enjoy many more of those types of outings as the year moves along. Maintaining that “hunter” attitude will be the key.