Back in March I wrote about how it is very possible that the Brewers could shoot to finish with a .500 record this season. As of today June 6th, 2017 Milwaukee is tied for first place in the National League Central Division with a 31-28 record. It is not a very good record at all for a first place team as they would be 3.5 games back of the last wild card spot if they were not in the division lead. The Cubs are bound to heat up as they have caught the Brewers and tied them for first place. They are too loaded in all areas to not be a World Series contender once again. This doesn’t mean the Brewers cannot give them a run for their money.
The Brewers offense has been top five in the league as they average nearly five runs per game. Travis Shaw has been the everyday third baseman Milwaukee was hoping he would be. Hitting above a .290 batting average, 16 doubles, 10 homeruns, and 40 RBI’s. Eric Thames had an excellent start to his season but has slowed down quite a bit after suffering a hamstring injury. He has still managed to belt 15 homers for Milwaukee however. Ryan Braun has been in and out of the lineup with various injuries and has only managed to play in 30 games. He has hit at a .262 clip and has hit 7 homeruns. Manny Pina and Jett Bandy have been an excellent catching tandem for the Brewers. They have combined for a .269 average, 8 homeruns and 32 RBI’s. Domingo Santana has displayed his power launching 10 homeruns. While Hernan Perez continues to be consistent at the plate hitting .272 and adding 7 homers and 26 RBI’s to go with it. Orlando Arcia has been very streaky but has recently boosted his average up to the .250 mark which is acceptable for a 22 year old shortstop. Jesus Augliar has been great off of the bench for Milwaukee as a power threat having 15 extra base hits in 107 at bats. Eric Sogard has been great in his 20 games with the Brewers hovering around the .400 mark, which obviously isn’t sustainable but still very impressive.
With that being said, there are many players who are under performing offensively such as Jonathan Villar and Keon Broxton. They have combined for 150 strikeouts each and they are both top ten in the league in that category. Villar is coming off a season where he hit .285 and belted 19 homers for the Brewers in the leadoff spot. He also led the league in stolen bases last season with 62. This season he has been struggling to keep it above .210 and hasn’t been getting on base to steal bases making him extremely ineffective for Craig Counsell. It’s looking like turning down the extension he was offered was a mistake as he bet on himself going into a contract year. Keon Broxton showed many signs of being a starting outfielder for the Brewers at the end of last season but has struggled to show discipline at the plate and on the basepath this year. He leads the team in strikeouts and has been caught stealing 5 out of 15 times. If Milwaukee can get these two guys going along with the rest of the team, they will be in even better offensive shape.
Starting pitching has been very solid as it is top ten in ERA at 4.03. They have gotten 21 wins out of their starters to go along with 11 losses. Chase Anderson has been the horse of the staff posting a 2.94 ERA holding opponents to a .242 batting average. Junior Guerra has been solid since his return from injury with an ERA of 1.83 and halting opponents to a .205 batting average in 4 starts. Jimmy Nelson has been very good as of late lowering his ERA to 3.36 and has a strikeout – walk ratio of nearly 4. Matt Garza has been solid in his return from injury as well posting a 3.83 ERA. Zach Davies struggled early on but has improved since lowering his ERA to 4.69 but has struggled keeping the ball in the park giving up 10 homeruns and opponents are hitting .294 against him. If he can get going with the rest of the starters Milwaukee will have an even better starting rotation.
The bullpen has been the major issue. They are 9-17 when the bullpen gets a decision, the most losses of any bullpen in the league. They are 17th in bullpen ERA at 4.06 and they have given up 23 homeruns. Milwaukee relievers have also combined for 11 blown saves in 29 opportunities. Neftali Feliz has been a disaster for the Brewers posting a 1-5 record and a 5.40 ERA as the guy who was hoped to be the closer. Jared Hughes and Oliver Drake have shown a few promising signs but both have ERA’s over 4. Carlos Torres has not been as good as he was last year, in fact he has barely been serviceable. Rob Scahill has been average at best with a 3.31 ERA. Corey Knebel has been good but has struggled a bit closing out games as he has already blown three saves. He is averaging 16 K’s per 9 innings however which is outstanding and has a 1.29 ERA. Jacob Barnes has also been good with a 2.76 ERA and a .183 opponent average. He has gotten the Brewers out of many 7th and 8th inning jams. Having only two solid relievers is not enough for a team to compete and will ultimately lead to the Brewers’ demise if not acted upon soon.
If Milwaukee stays on the pace they are on they will finish with a 85-77. You can still more than likely expect the Brewers to sell assets at the trade deadline to acquire prospects which will likely lead to a drop off in record. That decision will be heavily effected by the teams performance in the next two months.