8/28/2013 8:45 P.M. ET
Hellweg earns PCL Pitcher of the Year honors
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday, right-hander Johnny Hellweg is scheduled to make one more start for the Nashville Sounds before a critical September callup to the Brewers.
Though Hellweg struggled during an earlier stint in the Majors -- 0-3 with a 10.97 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance, with 19 hits and 13 walks in 10 2/3 innings -- he carved through Triple-A, going 11-5 with a 3.16 ERA and a league-best .226 opponents' average in 22 starts for the Sounds. He owns a 10-1 record in his last 15 starts.
"Hopefully he can come up here and do the same thing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Roenicke declined to say where Hellweg would initially fit onto a roster that already has five healthy starting pitchers. Club officials have discussed using a six-man rotation after Sept. 10, when the Brewers begin a season-ending stretch of 20 games in as many days.
Hellweg is the fourth pitcher in the Sounds' 36-year franchise history to capture his league's Pitcher of the Year honor, and only the second since the team has been affiliated with the Brewers. The other was R.A. Dickey in 2007, when Dickey was just beginning his conversion to a knuckleballer.
Hellweg is one of three players acquired in July 2012 from the Angels for right-hander Zack Greinke, and while Greinke now pitches for the Dodgers, all three new Brewers are enjoying successful seasons. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura made the National League All-Star team, leads the league in stolen bases and ranks second in hits, and Double-A Huntsville right-hander Ariel Pena owns a 3.87 ERA in 26 starts.
"I think being up here and at least experiencing the atmosphere should help [Hellweg] when he comes back, as long as he doesn't think of the negative parts of it," Roenicke said. "It should help him."
Aramis evaluated next to Hall of Fame third basemen
PITTSBURGH -- Aramis Ramirez is one of the great offensive third basemen in baseball history, but is he hitting his way toward the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.? An unscientific poll of several Hall of Fame voters on Wednesday suggested the 35-year-old Ramirez will fall short.
Ramirez topped 2,000 career hits in June, and he reached 350 home runs in Tuesday's win over the Pirates. His 347 homers as a third baseman ranks seventh all-time behind Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt (509) and Eddie Mathews (486), plus Chipper Jones (389), Graig Nettles (368), Matt Williams (359) and Adrian Beltre (356 entering Wednesday). He has posted similar offensive numbers to the most recent third baseman to make the Hall of Fame, former Cub Ron Santo -- a .285 batting average entering Wednesday to Santo's .277, and 350 home runs with 1,262 RBIs to Santo's 342 and 1,331.
But MLB.com stats guru Roger Schlueter suggested that one of Ramirez's suits -- his consistency -- will work against him in a Hall of Fame discussion. In other words, Ramirez's career has had no clear peak, and his yearly contributions are impressive, but short of consideration for Cooperstown.
Defensively, Ramirez is generally regarded as average, and voters have traditionally had a difficult time with third basemen, anyway. The hot corner is Cooperstown's most underrepresented position.
Ramirez, who has been limited by a nagging knee injury all season, is signed with the Brewers through 2014 and said he intends to play as long as his body allows him to be a regular starter. He declined to assess his case for someday making it to Cooperstown.
"I always say I'll look back on my numbers when I retire," Ramirez said. "I'll have to look at third basemen who are in the Hall of Fame, what kind of numbers they have, because I have no idea.
"[I'll play] as long as I can. Injuries play a big part as you get older; they take a big toll on you. The fewest at-bats I've gotten in the big leagues [in a full season was 306] in 2009. This year, I might not reach that. When you get older, it gets tougher, and I'm going to keep working hard to come back stronger next year."
Henderson capitalizes on save opportunities
PITTSBURGH -- Brewers closer Jim Henderson set a franchise record by recording the final three outs of Tuesday's 7-6 win over the Pirates -- his 12th consecutive appearance with a save.
Henderson was more interested in the implications for the team.
"It's just great that we're winning and I'm in those situations," Henderson said.
The previous record was held by Trevor Hoffman, who logged a save in 11 straight appearances in 2009, when then-manager Ken Macha was coaxing Hoffman to the 600-save plateau. Henderson surpassed Hoffman's mark with good pitching -- he entered Wednesday with a 1.82 ERA -- and good luck, because Henderson has not been needed in a tie game.
"He's done a great job. Those kinds of numbers, though, that stuff's misleading," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's great, but it's just opportunity.
"I like what he's doing. I like that when he gets a save opportunity, he's really pitching well."
Henderson still has a long way to go to break a more prominent club record. John Axford converted 49 consecutive save opportunities from 2011-12.
• Brandon Kintzler's scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday was his 56th appearance this season, three shy of his total between the Minors and Majors last season, when Kintzler returned from a nerve issue in his elbow. So far, the right-hander has looked strong, so there are no plans to cap Kintzler's workload.
"As long as stuff and performance is there, I think it's pretty much telling you that the guy is OK," said Roenicke, who has been mindful about Kintzler's pitch count and workload. "I think when you start to see the performance go downhill, then all of a sudden the radar goes up and you start looking at everything that's going on. I don't like to just go on numbers for everything. I don't think people, in general, [and] in baseball like to. I think we like to go by what we see."
• Injury-plagued pitching prospect Nick Bucci is out for the season with a right shoulder injury, assistant general manager Gord Ash said. Bucci, who was limited to 10 games last season and one appearance at Rookie level Arizona this season, visited last month with Dr. James Andrews, who recommended six weeks of rest before a re-evaluation. Bucci is still in the middle of that rest period.
"The bottom line is he won't pitch again this season," Ash said.
Bucci is 23 years old and is a member of Milwaukee's 40-man roster.
• One final note from Schlueter on Ramirez: In the modern era, only one player has had more seasons of qualifying for the batting title while posting an OPS+ between 121 and 140: Aramis had eight, all within a 12-year stretch. Rickey Henderson, a Hall of Famer, had nine.