Some things to read while laying down for a nap. The Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2014 season widely predicted to finish at or below .500 and in fourth place in the National League Central. They surprised fans and pundits alike by being much more than that for much of the year, but that didn’t […]

Some things to read while laying down for a nap.

The Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2014 season widely predicted to finish at or below .500 and in fourth place in the National League Central. They surprised fans and pundits alike by being much more than that for much of the year, but that didn’t make it any less disappointing when their 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday eliminated them from postseason contention. Derek Harvey of Brew Crew Ball has a recap, if you missed it.

The Brewers had largely used the momentum of a hot month of April to remain in first place through the month of August, but were eventually doomed by a stretch that saw them go 10-23 since Aug. 19. They’ll be one of just five teams in the last 46 years to lead their division for 150 games and fail to reach the postseason, and Jonathan Lucroy told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “we kind of did it to ourselves.” Mike Fiers told Adam McCalvy of, “you know, we kind of gave it away.”

Thursday’s loss was at least partially due to a disappointing outing for Yovani Gallardo, who needed 105 pitches to get into the sixth inning and allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits and a walk. Gallardo has a club option for 2015, but if the Brewers opt to decline it for whatever reason, then the longtime Brewer’s final pitch with the team will have been a home run hit by Brandon Phillips. This is the second consecutive season in which Gallardo has fallen short of 200 innings, but his ERA (3.51) and walk rate (2.5 per nine innings) were both the best of his career.

We have a couple of postmortems for the Brewers season this morning, and I’d assume more will be coming in the next few days. Nick Bond of SB Nation says, “There’s reason to believe that Milwaukee will be in the running for the NL Central again next year,” while Matt Snyder of CBS Sports predicts the Brewers will be looking up at the Cardinals and Pirates again in 2015.

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Other notes from the field:

  • The Reds won their season series with the Brewers 10-9. The Brewers haven’t had a winning record against the Reds since 2006.
  • The Brewers tumblr has a gif of Yovani Gallardo falling to his backside attempting to field a bunt, but getting the out at first anyway.
  • Aroldis Chapman recorded the save for Cincinnati on Thursday but his velocity was down a bit (only one of his 12 pitches was over 100 mph) and the trainer came out to check on him at one point. After the game, Reds manager Bryan Price said Chapman was “a little stiff” and “struggling to get loose.”
  • Jason Rogers made his first MLB start at first base on Thursday and went 0-for-2 with an error.
  • Lyle Overbay pinch hit for Rogers and got a hit. He’s hitting .344 with a .447 on-base percentage and .500 slugging in 38 appearances as a pinch hitter this season (h/t @joe_block).
  • The umpires reviewed the call when Ryan Braun was thrown out trying to score on a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning, but upheld the decision.

Moving on, the Brewers still have three games to play at home against the Chicago Cubs this weekend to wrap up the 2014 season. Jimmy Nelson will face rookie Eric Jokisch in the first game of that series at 7:10 p.m. tonight, and Daniel Kramer has the preview.

Nelson will start tonight’s game in place of Matt Garza, who has been scratched with shoulder stiffness. At one point, Garza was on pace to pitch more than 210 innings this season, but after a month on the disabled list with a rib cage strain and this skipped start, he’ll finish the first season of his four-year contract with 163.1 innings and a 3.64 ERA. Both of those are his best marks for a full season since 2011.

Aramis Ramirez had a hit on Thursday but is still struggling down the stretch, batting just .233 with a .275 on-base percentage and .314 slugging in 22 games in the month of September. Ramirez has had great stretches this season but has also struggled at times, turned 36 in June and told Adam McCalvy on Thursday that he’s waiting to make a decision on his future until after the season. Ramirez and the Brewers have a $14 million mutual option for 2015.

If Ramirez returns next season, he’ll likely be playing across the infield from a new regular starter at first base. Adam McCalvy talked to Ron Roenicke about some of the options at that position, including the first acknowledgement I’ve seen that the team has discussed moving Ryan Braun over there.

Jonathan Lucroy went 0-for-3 but walked and scored a run on Thursday, closing out a series in which he went 0-for-8 but drew five free passes. Anthony Castrovince of Sports on Earth has Lucroy ninth on his NL MVP ballot.

Meanwhile, odds are Lucroy will be catching some new relievers on the 2015 Brewers. We’ve previously discussed Francisco Rodriguez’s pending free agency, but this Tomahawk Take post reminded me that Zach Duke and Tom Gorzelanny will hit the market this winter as well.

In the minors:

  • Congratulations are due out this morning to AZL Brewers outfielder Monte Harrison (No. 7) and pitcher Miguel Diaz (No. 18), whom Baseball America listed among the rookie league’s top 20 prospects this season. Harrison had a .402 on-base percentage in 50 games as an 18-year-old, and Diaz struck out better than 10 batters per nine innings in 13 appearances in his first season playing in the United States.
  • Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects has a review of the 2014 Brevard County Manatees, who went 73-62 but missed the postseason in the Florida State League behind big seasons from outfielder Tyrone Taylor, shortstop Orlando Arcia and pitcher Tyler Wagner.

Closer to home, if you bought a new Jonathan Lucroy jersey this season, you’re certainly not alone. @MLB_PR posted a list of the most popular player jerseys of the second half on Thursday, and Jonathan Lucroy was the lone Brewer mentioned at No. 20.

Today in power rankings:

Around baseball:

Diamondbacks: Hired former pitching coach, front office executive and agent Dave Stewart as their new general manager.
Royals: Outfielder Josh Willingham plans to retire following the season.

Let’s go around the NL Central:

  • The Pirates are within a game of first place in the division after their 10-1 win over the Braves Thursday night. Third baseman Josh Harrison had three hits and scored three runs for Pittsburgh.
  • The Brewers, as you likely know, lost 5-3 to the Reds.
  • The Cardinals and Cubs were off on Thursday.
Here are today’s updated standings and probables:

Team  GB  Today  Matchup 
Cardinals  88  71  —  @ Diamondbacks, 8:40 p.m.  Michael Wacha vs Trevor Cahill 
Pirates  87  72  @ Reds, 6:10 p.m.  Vance Worley vs Mike Leake 
Brewers  81  78  vs Cubs, 7:10 p.m.  Jimmy Nelson vs Eric Jokisch 
Reds  74  85  14  vs Pirates, 6:10 p.m.  Mike Leake vs Vance Worley 
Cubs  71  88  17  @ Brewers, 7:10 p.m.  Eric Jokisch vs Jimmy Nelson 

Today in baseball economics: This offseason’s minor league affiliate shuffle has seen the Midwest League team in South Bend, Ind., switch organizations from the Diamondbacks to the Cubs, and now they’ll be changing names and logos as well. After 21 seasons as the South Bend Silver Hawks, they’ll be the South Bend Cubs in 2015. Before becoming the Silver Hawks, the team was known as the South Bend White Sox.

And in former Brewers:

Finally, with help from the Baseball Reference Play Index, we’d like to wish a happy birthday today to 2006-08 Brewer Brian Shouse. He turns 46. Plunk Everyone notes that his 20 career hit batsmen are tied for the fourth-most ever for a pitcher born on Sept. 26.

Today is also the 17th anniversary of Doug Jones recording his 25th consecutive save in 1997, which would go on to be a franchise record for 14 years, and the 41st anniversary of Jim Colborn winning his 20th game in 1973. Follow the links for those events’ respective entries in Today In Brewer History at Brew Crew Ball.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to buy more toilet paper.

Drink up.

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