If bats cool, Brewers may slot pitcher eighth
MILWAUKEE -- With Ryan Braun having success since a move up to the two-hole, Brewers coaches have been debating batting the pitcher eighth, and manager Ron Roenicke left open the possibility of giving it a try if the offense cools from its current red-hot state.
"It has been discussed for the past four or five days, [and] there is merit to it," Roenicke said. "It depends on your personnel, really on who is hitting first and second for you and who is going to hit ninth, and it's important who is hitting seventh.
"If you have all the right pieces, it makes a ton of sense. If you have an on-base guy [seventh] so you can get through the pitcher eighth, and you have a ninth hitter who is an on-base guy to get on base for what would have to be strong 1-2-3 hitters, it makes a ton of sense. That's kind of what we have."
Or rather, it's what the Brewers will have when third baseman Aramis Ramirez returns from the disabled list, which could happen as early as Tuesday.
Ramirez's return could allow Roenicke to re-install Carlos Gomez to the leadoff spot, with Braun second and catcher Jonathan Lucroy third. First basemen Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay would be the likely candidates for the seven-hole, and second basemen Scooter Gennett and Rickie Weeks could hit ninth, theoretically getting on base to give Gomez and Braun more opportunities to drive in runs.
Roenicke was clear that he would not disrupt the Brewers' current hot streak. The team entered Saturday with at least 10 hits in nine consecutive games, matching a franchise record.
"The personnel dictates what happens," Roenicke said. "I was telling them in Anaheim in 2000, when [Darin] Erstad … drove in 100 runs from the leadoff spot, we had Orlando Palmeiro, who was a really good on-base guy. And we hit him ninth. He probably should have hit up farther than that, but we hit him ninth, trying to get guys on for Erstad."
Former Brewers manager Ned Yost batted his pitchers eighth for part of 2008, when catcher Jason Kendall hit ninth. Yost eventually dropped the idea.
Asked to guess the odds he would try it when Ramirez returns, Roenicke said: "I don't know. We have to discuss it more and figure out what we're doing with Gomez, figure out what we're doing with [Jean] Segura. And not just while we're hot here, because while we're hot I'll [continue] doing it this way [with Segura leading off and Gomez hitting cleanup]. We're talking about where we see it in a month from now. If it makes sense, we'll try it."
Braun, for his part, has adjusted nicely to batting second.
"I like it. It's good," Braun said. "I don't think you change anything now; we're swinging the bats so well. Since we've gone with this alignment in the lineup, we've been really successful, and there's no reason to change anything.
"It's the same thing. Obviously, I have a few less RBI opportunities unless we eventually go to the pitcher eight and somebody else ninth, which we've discussed, too. We'll see. The more at-bats you get for your best hitters, the better off you'll be over the course of a season. For me, it's just about creating runs, whether I'm on base to score the runs or able to drive guys in."