Much like the month of July, the month of August was quite an eventful one for the Milwaukee Brewers. They finished the month with a 13-13 record which in retrospect, could have been much worse. Despite being .500 during the month of August, Milwaukee had a -27 run differential which is nowhere near acceptable. Despite that, the club managed to win some crazy games when their backs were against the wall and there is something to be said about that.
The main cause of the Brewers’ struggles in August was due to the pitching staff as a whole. Milwaukee finished last in the NL in ERA for August at a 5.50 clip. What was thought to be one of the best bullpens in baseball completely imploded. The starting pitching has also regressed to the mean as many people thought it would.
The Brewers bullpen was the worst in all of baseball during the month of August by a landslide. Outside of Joakim Soria and Jeremy Jeffress, the bullpen has looked absolutely hopeless. Corey Knebel has been so bad, he got sent to AAA. Taylor Williams has been nowhere near the pitcher he was at the beginning of the year. Matt Albers is either still hurt or just a complete disaster on the mound. Josh Hader had a bad month for his standards (4.73 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 during August). Corbin Burnes has been very streaky, which is expected from a kid with little MLB experience. Dan Jennings has also become decreasingly effective as the season goes on.
Much of the blame has been put on Craig Counsell for his usage of his bullpen and pitching staff as a whole. I forsure don’t agree with all of the decisions he makes, but what else can he do? It’s not Counsell’s fault that his bullpen posted an ERA over 6 during August. Fatigue could be an issue here due to the massive amount of innings the bullpen has eaten up this year. To blame a manager when his guys aren’t performing is very foolish.
Mediocre Starting Pitching
Before we dive into the bad parts of the starting pitching, I’d just like to say I cannot believe how fantastic Wade Miley has been for the Brewers. I didn’t even think he would crack the rotation when we invited him to spring training. Here we are in August and he has arguably been our best pitcher. Chacin also has continued to be a consistent arm in the rotation. I’ve been saying that all season now.
To start things off our supposed ace, Chase Anderson, has been the epidemie of inconsistency. That comes off as quite aggressive, but it’s the truth. He has been nowhere near how good he was last year outside of a few starts. I can’t say I expected him to be a sub 3 ERA pitcher for the rest of his career. But I’m sick of seeing Anderson have 1 or 2 good starts per month.
Freddy Peralta has been good for a 22 year old. The strikeout rate is fantastic (11.1 K/9). However his walk rate is nearly 5 and it has gotten him into plenty of trouble. He like Anderson has also been as inconsistent as it gets, but I expect that from a 22 year old rookie. Peralta has dynamite stuff, he just isn’t at his full potential yet.
Junior Guerra had a trainwreck of a month as he posted an ERA of 7.03. Opponents his .377 off him and he had a WHIP of 2.01. He very well could be on his way out of the rotation with Davies on his way back.
The Brewers front office banked very heavily on the starting pitching staff to continue to pitch above their paygrade. It’s too late to change the staff now as both the trade deadline and waiver deadline have passed. We can only hope that the staff has a bounce back month of September.
Offense Is No Issue
It’s no secret that Milwaukee can hit the ball. The one-two punch at the top of the order in Cain and Yelich continues to be the driving force of the offense. Christian Yelich had a torrent month of August (.300/.358/.673) ripping 11 homeruns and recently had a 6 hit game in which he hit for the cycle. Lorenzo Cain hit a cool .370 and got on base at a .447 rate.
Ryan Braun has finally started finding holes and is seemingly back to an everyday player. Hernan Perez has continued to be an excellent asset in terms of coming off the bench and being a solid utility player. Manny Pina and Erik Kratz have become a very good catching tandem as they are both swinging the bat very well. The addition of Mike Moustakas has also paid dividens as he hit .289, blasted 5 homers, and drove in 19 runners. Travis Shaw has had a slight dip in his batting average and on base percentage, but his power numbers and run production are just as good as they were last year.
There really have been only two blemishes in the Brewers offense. Eric Thames has been completely invisible as he slashed .098/.159/.224 in August. Jonathan Schoop has been heating up in the past week, but has been an unregulated disaster otherwise.
The offense on this ball club is their biggest strength and is more than capable of bashing their way into the post season.
Waiver Trade Deadline Additions
The Brewers front office had a very busy August 31st as they added three players. Milwaukee acquired left handed reliever Xander Cedeno from the White Sox, LHP Gio Gonzalez from the Nationals, and OF Curtis Granderson from the Blue Jays.
The most intriguing of these names is obviously Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez is one year removed from finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting. Gonzalez has been struggling since in the second half of the season, but was a very solid, low risk buy for the Brewers.
Xavier Cedeno may be the best add of the three players in my opinion. Cedeno was putting together a nice season in Chicago and if the Brewers need anything, it’s a fresh bullpen arm.
Curtis Granderson obviously isn’t the player he once was, but he could be a valuable bat off of the bench in a pinch hit role. With Eric Thames struggling as bad as he has been, Granderson could replace him as the 4th outfielder and move Thames to a backup role at first base.
Milwaukee has 26 games left to play in the regular season. To win 90 games, they need to go 14-12 in those games. 90 wins should be enough to lock up a wild card spot with how weak the NL West teams’ records are and with the Phillies slipping as far as they have. Standing in the way of those ideal 14 wins stands some tough competition.
Milwaukee starts off the month with a series against the Nationals. Washington is still a solid team despite what their record says. Milwaukee also has 18 of their last 26 against NL Central teams, which outside of the Reds, have given them trouble all year. To say it’s a pivotal point in the season is an understatement.