The second half of the MLB season has not been a good one for the Milwaukee Brewers. The pitching has plummeted and the bats have begun to disappear at times. The young squad coughed up a 5.5 game lead in the division race up before the month of August began. They sit in third with a 61-59 record as they have gone 11-18 since the allstar break. They are still only two games out of first place but given the way they have played lately, it is not looking good for the Brew Crew. This is a very important 42-45 game stretch for the Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, and Brewers as the fourth place Pirates are only four games out of first. The goal in the Milwaukee clubhouse is more than likely to win the division, but in my eyes if the Brewers could go .500 the rest of the way it would be a very successful end of the season.
What has been the cause of the tailspin? To be completely honest, if you look up and down the Brewers roster it is not a division winning team. However it is not a bad team either by any means.
The starting pitching was not going to be as stellar as it was. The starting pitching ERA has gone up to 4.22 since being a solid 4.03 on June 6th. The opponent average is a very mediocre .261 and Brewers starters have allowed a middle of the pack 97 homeruns. Losing Chase Anderson to injury has been a huge blow to the rotation as he was having himself a career year. Zach Davies and Matt Garza have been wildly inconsistent and opening day starter Junior Guerra was a complete disaster on the mound and was DFA’d.
The Bullpen has slightly improved since acquiring Anthony Swarzak from the White Sox and bringing Jeremy Jeffress back. But guys like Oliver Drake, Rob Scahill, Carlos Torres, and especially Wily Peralta have been cookie dispensers and have completely taken us out of games at times. Jacob Barnes has shown promise at times and builds up my trust, then completely shits himself on the mound and loses my trust again.
Jimmy Nelson has been Milwaukee’s best pitcher and has looked like the ace he was rumored to become. He has 162 strikeouts in 145 innings and a 3.72 ERA. He was at 3.30 before his worst start of the season against Cincinnati on Friday. He has also gained more control of his pitches only walking 37 batters compared to the 86 he walked last season. Josh Hader has been a revelation for the Brewers bullpen as he has basically unhittable. He has held his opponents to a .133 batting average and has an ERA of 0.71 in 25 innings of work. In those 25 innings he has struck out 32 batters with his electric fastball. If he can keep his walks down he is going to be a very effective pitcher in the longrun. Corey Knebel has been found gold in the closer position being the Brewer’s lone allstar. He is 22 for 27 in save opportunities and has contributed a 1.46 ERA. He has also struck out 96 guys in 55 innings which is absolutely absurd. (Thanks Detroit)
The Brewers offense is not a huge issue but has been quiet in games where their pitchers are on a roll. They average 4.6 runs per game and are 5th in the MLB in homeruns with 171. Leading the league in strikeouts however is considered bad. The Brewers have been fanned 1178 times in 120 games. For non-stat people. That is striking out nearly 10 times per game. The Brewers have five players on their roster with over 100 strikeouts. They have four players in the top 25 in the league in strikeouts. Jonathan Villar and Keon Broxton have been disastrous at the plate and have combined for 256 strikeouts. Santana, Shaw, and Thames are the other three with over 100 K’s, but they have at least been productive.
Obviously the offense has had its bright spots. Travis Shaw has been the Brewers MVP hands down so far this season. Hovering around .290 all year and is on his way to a 30+ homer year. Eric Thames has been very inconsistent but very good when he is hot. Unfortunately we could not get the Eric Thames we had in April all year. Domingo Santana is establishing himself as an everyday player in the MLB as he has hovered around .280 and shown his power. He is pushing for a 25+ homer season. Orlando Arcia has been hovering around .290 for the better part of the year himself after a very slow start to his young career. Jesus Augilar has been great off of the bench along with Hernan Perez (Thanks Detroit) and Eric Sogard. Many Pina has been a nice surpirse himself (Thanks Detroit) Ryan Braun has even been good since coming back from injury. Who knows? Maybe Neil Walker can come in and be Felipe Lopez 2.0 and help us make a push for the playoffs once again.