Much to my dismay I was recently informed that obscure movie references just aren't that funny. So I was forced to ditch the original title of this piece, "Reuben Quevedo: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Our Ace". See what I mean?
It's been a rough season so far for our Milwaukee Brewers. Mired with the worst record in the major leagues for much of the season we have only recently enjoyed a modest 5 game winning streak that pulled us up to 3rd worst. Yeah team. There were several early season disappointments, including Eric Young, Geoff Jenkins, Matt Stairs/Alex Ochoa and the list goes on and on. But one of the most confusing and troubling, was the complete ineffectiveness of Quevedo. On May 13th Quevedo had these rather impressive numbers that had everyone scratching their heads.
As you can see by the statistics Quevedo was far from producing even "average" numbers for a Major League starting pitcher. He had trouble locating his pitches, had poor endurance, and most troubling of all was a dramatic loss of velocity. Once a mid-nineties power pitcher, he was now struggling to break even 85 mph. Quevedo thrives in the upper part of the strike zone, but with that loss of velocity he no longer could throw the ball by people, and he was getting knocked all over the park. Many people on the message boards were clamoring for him to have a stint on the DL to rest his "tired arm" but the Brewers seemed rather stubborn in there attempts to ignore that something might be wrong. That is until May 6th. In his worst outing of the young season Quevedo worked only one inning while giving up 5 runs, 4 earned, on 3 hits and 3 walks. After that disaster Quevedo's ERA stood at a robust 5.57. The following night Quevedo worked out of the bullpen and came in for one inning. The Brewers seemed to have finally realized that something was wrong with young Quevedo and after that relief appearance he didn't take the mound until May 14th. Since then his performance speaks for itself.
Talk about gaudy stats. This has truly been a remarkable turnaround. One that isn't easily explained either. His velocity is up above 90 mph again, but he is still not to the previous level that he was at when we acquired him last season. He's no longer struggling to find the strike zone, and he seems to be pitching with much more confidence then he was earlier in the year. His W/L record also indicates how unlucky he has been during this remarkable string of starts. I've been keeping my eye on Quevedo most of the season, and even with his recent surge in production I was hesitant to call him our "Ace". He had yet to turn in a truly dominant performance this season. Then on June 5th Quevedo proved me wrong.
The Brewers were enjoying there longest winning streak of the season, five games, and they had taken the first two games of the series from there division rivals the Chicago Cubs. While I hate using the term "must-win", a win would have given the Brewers the type of momentum we haven't seen in some time, and it might even had made your humble narrator excited about this team. Quevedo pitched like an ace, and he completely dominated the Cubs. It was a great outing, and he did everything he could to close out the series sweep. We have seen few of those performances by any member of the Brewers this season. It was one I truly enjoyed and hope to see on a regular basis.
At this time I don't think we can consider Quevedo to be an elite pitcher, but with his recent string of success it has become rather obvious that he has the potential to not only dominate one game, but for an entire month and possibly even longer. I think it is time for all of us to reevaluate our position that his ceiling is as a #3 starter, he's clearly the best starter on the staff at this point in time, and one of the top starters in the National League. I don't think anyone would have thought that possible 30 days ago.
Joe, Say it Ain't So
In an effort to further his evolution into the Bill Walton of MLB announcers, Joe Morgan had this interesting quote concerning leadoff hitters in the most recent edition of The Sporting News.
"On-Base percentages are overrated for a leadoff hitter."
One of the more foolish things I have heard recently. It makes you wonder if Morgan cares more about the actual words coming out of his mouth, or the melodic sound of his voice. Considering that the leadoff hitter's primary job is to get on base, I am forced to shake my head and believe the latter.
Time to take my first step towards the Hall of Fame
Kudos to Al Bethke for the taking the then unpopular stance that Alex Sanchez could develop into a passable starting centerfielder. Al may want to up that prediction as Sanchez has continued his hot hitting and has now been tearing it up for close to a month. Since that article Sanchez has only just hit for a .355 average and added 9 walks to raise his overall numbers from a .333 OBP/ .327 SLG/ .269 BA, for a total OPS of .660, to .371 OBP/ .355 SLG/ .301 BA for a respectable .726 OPS. His ability to work the count increases daily, and even within the last week his base running instincts have improved. The one area he still needs work on is driving the ball into gaps to increase his doubles and triples. But his other improvements have made the Brewers continued use of him in centerfield look like they might actually have known what they were talking about. I may hate being wrong, but I certainly don't mind it if it means a Brewer player exceeds my expectations.
Do you realize what the street value of this mountain is?
Reports continue to swirl about the availability of Jeff Weaver of the Detroit Tigers and Bartolo Colon of the Cleveland Indians. Cincinnati reportedly wants Colon but Cleveland will only make the deal if they receive either Austin Kearns or Adam Dunn. At the same time the Tigers turned down an offer from the Chicago White Sox because they balked at including OF prospect Joe Borchard. While these high prices effectively take the Brewers out of the running for either player, it does make Jamey Wright more attractive to teams that also can't afford them. Baltimore's Sidney Ponson, Oakland's Cory Lidle, Tampa Bay's Paul Wilson, and Wright all seem to be bunched in together on the tier below Colon and Weaver. Now all we need is for Wright to string together a couple of solid outings and we could be in business.
Now your back is going to hurt, 'cause you just pulled landscaping duty
Anyone else wondering how long it will be until the Brewers name Luis Vizcaino as there closer? Nothing against Mike DeJean but he is best suited as a setup man and not as a closer. The Brewers have taken the position with Sanchez that they will continue to play him to see if he develops, so why not take that same position with Vizcaino? He definitely has the potential to be a closer, all he needs is the opportunity. I know it will be difficult for Jerry Royster to part with his favorite reliever, but we need to develop him as a player, not to mention save him from Royster who won't rest until Vizcaino has made 100 appearances.
Yeah, but she's my "myth"
Suprisingly, I have very little to say concerning the current steroid issue that MLB is facing. Past and present players estimate between 5%-85% of current major leaguers use steroids. I think it is reasonably safe to assume that the actual numbers falls closer to the 10%-20% of minor leaguers that test positive every year. Only MLB could find a way to complicate such an easy solution. Random testing certainly won't solve the problem, but it is the first step that should have been taken over a decade ago.
With this I take my leave and head out to finally watch Spider-man. Evidently I am the only person in the United States that hasn't seen it and according to the media I am decidedly un-American for it. Who knew?