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Nine reasons Brewers are for real

Apr 16, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta (38) pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Photo: Image by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Nine reasons Brewers are for real

By Ryan Topp. CREATED Apr 24, 2014

Earlier this week, we took a look at the first three of nine explanations for the Milwaukee Brewers' 16-6 start.

Here is the second 3-pack of nine reasons that the Brewers are for real:

Strikeouts instead of walks

When the ball is put into the field of play, pitchers lose quite a bit of control over what happens with it. Sure, pitchers can have some impact on how strong of contact they allow, but a lot of their fate still ends up tied to luck as well as the positioning and strength of the fielders behind them to turn a ball in play into an out.

This is why it’s so important for pitchers to strike out batters and to avoid walks. Those things are largely under their control, and the better they do at them the better they’ll likely fare.

Last year, Brewers pitchers ranked 21st in strikeout to walk ratio, striking out 2.41 batters for every walk. This year, they’re 2nd in MLB with 3.42 K:BB.

Not everything about the Brewers' outstanding start pitching (2.52 ERA) is going to be sustainable over the course of the full season. However, if the team can collectively continue to avoid the walk and strike guys out, the damage to opposing lineups could continue to be tremendous.

Wily Peralta’s emerging star

Driving a lot of the improvement for the Brewers pitching staff, both in the ERA and K:BB departments, is young right hander Wily Peralta. Last year, he posted an unsightly 1.77 K:BB ratio and his ERA was a disappointing 4.37.

This year, he’s upped the K:BB ratio to 3.17 early on, and the ERA has taken a nose dive all the way down to 2.19.

Peralta is also getting a lot of ground balls and avoiding hard contact, which is always good for a pitcher. His average fastball velocity is among the very best for all starting pitchers in baseball, and he’s learning how to command it better and better all the time.

Peralta clearly had the talent to be an inning eating horse for the Brewers in the coming years, the main question was how quickly could he learn the finer points of pitching. He seems to be doing just that right now and he’s giving the Brewers one of the deeper rotations in the game in the early going. For more on Peralta’s early breakout, you can read here.

Jimmy Nelson looks ready

The Brewers took a lot of heat this offseason for having one of the weaker farm systems in the game. While it’s certainly true that they do lack the high upside talent that the best systems have in piles, that doesn’t mean that they’re without impact talent, period.

2010 second rounder Jimmy Nelson made a couple of top 100 prospect lists, and he’s off to a fantastic start this year for AAA Nashville. He’s sporting a gaudy 1.80 ERA, striking out a batter an inning while keeping the walks under ⅓ of that number, and inducing twice as many ground outs and air outs. It’s hard to ask for any more from him from a statistical standpoint.

Should the Brewers suffer an injury to one of their starters, it was always assumed that Tyler Thornburg or perhaps Will Smith might have to move into the rotation. With the emergence of Nelson, though, they can probably afford to leave those guys where they are should a starter go down.

Oh, and Mike Fiers currently also has a 0.87 ERA and a 26:2 K:BB ratio in AAA as well. That’s always nice to have.

(Read reasons seven through nine in a future column on WIsports.com)

Ryan Topp (@RDTopp on Twitter) runs the Brewers fan site Disciples of Uecker.