Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Inbox: Which Brewers will earn All-Star nods?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers fans' questions
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

Who do you think will go to the All-Star Game for the Brewers?
-- Mitch S., Menomonee Falls, Wis.

The 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot is open until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT, and fans can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period. But with no Brewers among the top five vote-getters on the infield, or among the top 15 outfielders, as of the final ballot update on Monday afternoon, the local nine is on the outside looking in as far as the starting lineup.

Who do you think will go to the All-Star Game for the Brewers?
-- Mitch S., Menomonee Falls, Wis.

The 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot is open until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT, and fans can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period. But with no Brewers among the top five vote-getters on the infield, or among the top 15 outfielders, as of the final ballot update on Monday afternoon, the local nine is on the outside looking in as far as the starting lineup.

:: Submit a question to the Brewers Inbox ::

It looks like the Brewers will have to aim for the National League's pitching staff or the bench, which are selected by a combination of the player ballot and manager. Travis Shaw is worthy, but the competition is fierce at third base in the NL, with Kris Bryant leading the voting, Anthony Rendon tied for third in the NL regardless of positon with 3.0 WAR, Nolan Arenado making the highlight reel every night and Jake Lamb a tick above Shaw in most offensive categories. Eric Thames looked like an early-season lock at first base, but with his May and June slide, he's fallen to sixth or seventh among NL first baseman in slugging, wOBA and wRC+.

So, I'm going pitching this year, and while Chase Anderson's top-10 ERA is worth noting, the likeliest Brewer to get a spot in the Midsummer Classic is closer Corey Knebel. His 1.8 WAR trails only the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen (52-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio) among NL relievers, and Knebel's 15.53 strikeouts per nine innings leads the NL. There's also his streak of 38 consecutive appearances with at least one strikeout, a Major League record for a reliever to begin a season, and one game shy of Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter's all-time mark.

Knebel has developed into an elite reliever. I think he gets a trip to Miami.

By the way, we will find out on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT during the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN. Following the unveiling of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster.

Tweet from @KyleMarinac: Since the Brewers played coy w/Hader I'm not sure they will give an honest answer w/Lopez either but is he being transitioned to the pen?

Josh Hader made it to the Majors because the Brewers had a bullpen need. I'm told Jorge Lopez's two recent relief outings for Double-A Biloxi are something different -- a more permanent move to the bullpen.

Here's what Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan had to say:

"The starting rotation at Biloxi is filled with some pitchers that have really thrown well, and Jorge hasn't been able to show the consistency that we wanted to see in that role.

"Jorge has all the weapons to become a successful Major League starting pitcher, and we are not closing any doors on that. But by moving Jorge to the 'pen, and getting him on the mound more often, we feel it will be helpful step in his development."

Tweet from @thenilesriver: How likely is it that we see Hader join the starting rotation this season? Next season?

The conversion to relief has gone slowly, as the Brewers try to figure out how frequently they can use Hader. But I have not heard of any plan to give him big league starts this season.

The long-term plan, however, remains to use him as a starter. So, I would venture that the likelihood is high that Hader is in next year's rotation.

Tweet from @Sussemilch: How is Thames holding up with the harder schedule? Could we see more scheduled days off with Aguilar at 1B?

Every time a question like this is posed to Brewers manager Craig Counsell, he points to Thames' overall numbers, says "he's fine," and urges everyone to move along. And it's true that by Weighted Runs Created Plus, a really effective measure of offensive production because it accounts for ballpack effects, Thames is the NL's 15th-most productive hitter so far this season (135 wRC+), better in the big picture than Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo.

Video: PIT@MIL: Thames drives in Sogard with RBI single

But so much of that production came in April that at some point Counsell may have to reconsider where Thames best fits in the lineup, and whether it is time to increase Jesus Aguilar's workload. In 192 plate appearances since the start of May, Thames' 93 wRC+ means he is 7 percent less productive than a league average hitter. He's struck out in 29.2 percent of his at-bats since May 1.

Tweet from @Jessespaeth: What are the chances the brewers are bullpen buyers come the deadline? Or would they possibly stand pat and play for the future still?

I don't see David Stearns completely reversing course on rebuilding and suddenly raiding the farm system to add in big-time trades next month. But I also don't see owner Mark Attanasio selling if the Brewers remain at or near the top of the division.

So my best guess a month out is that they will fall somewhere in the middle, perhaps adding to the bullpen with a minor trade or two. Let's talk about this again in four weeks.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers