10/04/12 1:42 AM ET
Weeks set to cheer on kid brother in playoffs
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Braun puts finishing touches on strong season
MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun was the reigning National League MVP in 2012, and yet he still managed to exceed his manager's expectations.Braun put the finishing touches on a typically strong season on Wednesday, one that began as Braun was emerging from a cloud of suspicion and ended with him leading the National League with 41 home runs and vying for the RBI title, too. "Am I surprised he had this kind of year? No," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But, yeah, I think he did exceed [expectations] for most people. He's having another MVP year, and if we get into the playoffs, you have to say he's an MVP candidate." Braun is mentioned with Giants catcher Buster Posey, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and others in this year's MVP debate. Last year, Braun edged the Dodgers' Matt Kemp in MVP balloting partly because the Brewers made the playoffs and the Dodgers didn't. This year, the Brewers missed the cut. Plus, it remains to be seen how voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America treat Braun after he successfully appealed a drug suspension earlier this year. "[Braun's] numbers? My gosh, look at every category," Roenicke said. "Plus, he plays great defense. He definitely has the numbers to be considered." Braun has avoided questions about his MVP candidacy by saying he does not concern himself with matters out of his control. BBWAA members must cast their awards ballots before the first postseason game is played. Braun resume is strong. He led the NL with 41 home runs, 108 runs scored and a .987 OPS, finished second with a .595 slugging percentage, third with a .319 batting average and tied for ninth with 30 stolen bases. Braun logged only the 11th 40-homer, 30-stolen base season in Major League history. He tried to take the RBI title from Chase Headley, but came up empty throughout the Brewers' season-ending, three-game series against the Padres. Headley drove in two runs in Wednesday's finale, a 7-6 Padres win, and led the league with 115 RBIs.
"That RBI thing was real," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our guys felt it. They were sensing what was going on."Braun offered Headley his congratulations. "He earned it, man," Braun said. "He had a phenomenal year. Especially what he did in that ballpark, it's pretty special what he was able to accomplish. He had an incredible second half -- their whole team did, really. Hat's off to him." Braun added with a smile: "I ended up leading the league in runs, though. That's pretty cool. I'll take it."
Roenicke: Gallardo not injured, just shut down
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke made clear Wednesday about the decision to scratch scheduled starter Yovani Gallardo from the team's season finale:"One hundred percent, he is not hurt," Roenicke said. "Even when we went to him last night, he had no problem if we wanted to pitch him today." So why didn't he pitch? "'Yo' has had a big workload for two years now," Roenicke said. "We're concerned about him having another five, six good years with us, whatever the case may be. Looking at his future -- and he is definitely not hurt; he could pitch today -- we felt it was better if he didn't." Gallardo pitched 207 1/3 regular-season innings in 2011 plus 19 more innings in the postseason. He pitched 204 regular season innings in 2012. Brewers officials studied other similar pitchers, including Arizona's Ian Kennedy, and saw some concerns that made them decide not to push Gallardo into a game on Wednesday with no postseason implications and no personal goals to reach, unless you count a chance to tie his career high for wins. Gallardo won 17 regular-season games last year; he won 16 this year, including eight decisions in a row from July 3-Sept. 18. "If this, by shutting him down now, helps [next season], then we thought it was a smart move," Roenicke said. This is a new frontier for old school baseball men like Roenicke, who are not used to seeing pitchers shut down just north of 200 innings. Pitch counts in games, he was used to. But the current trend, of limiting starters' innings and putting a heavier workload on growing bullpens, is something different. The Brewers carried eight relievers for much of 2012, hampering Roenicke's ability to pinch-hit in certain situations or use defensive replacements. "Innings, and guys not finishing years, I've never had to deal with that before," Roenicke said. "Not even as a coach have I seen that before. So it's quite different."