It's no secret that I'm not an incredibly big fan of the Brewers' whole bench situation this year. That said, the bench really has not been a problem this year. The reason for that is not because it has performed surprisingly well -- it hasn't, the bench has been terrible. Rather, it hasn't been a problem because it hasn't been needed.
The Brewers have been extremely fortunate this year in that they have sustained very few injuries, resulting in little time on the disabled list for the team's key players. Here is a look at each of the team's DL stints this season:
|Player||Injury||Date placed on DL||Date activated from Dl||Total Days on DL|
|Tom Gorzelanny||Shoulder Surgery||March 30||June 14||76|
|Brandon Kintzler||Strained Rotator Cuff||April 13||April 24||11|
|Logan Schafer||Strained Hamstring||April 20||May 3||13|
|Jim Henderson||Shoulder Discomfort||May 2||n/a||77|
|Ryan Braun||Oblique Strain||May 3||May 13||10|
|Aramis Ramirez||Strained Hamstring||May 13||June 4||22|
|Tyler Thornburg||Strained Forearm||June 9||n/a||39|
|Wei-Chung Wang||Inability to get major league batters out||July 12||n/a||5|
|Jeff Bianchi||Elbow Strain||July 17||n/a||1|
Overall, the Brewers have had players miss a total of 299 days due to stints on the disabled list. Compare that to their NL Central rivals.
|Team||Days missed to DL|
|St. Louis Cardinals||403|
The Reds have missed significant time from players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Mat Latos, and Aroldis Chapman. The Cardinals have missed significant time from Jaime Garcia, Joe Kelly and Jason Motte and are now without Michael Wacha or Yadier Molina for some time. The Cubs have missed time from players like...umm...Jose Veras and James McDonald?
The Pirates have been the healthiest of the five teams thus far, but are currently without Gerrit Cole. They've also missed at least some time from key players like Francisco Liriano, Neil Walker, Russell Martin and Wandy Rodriguez.
Though the Brewers have missed 299 days overall due to disabled list stints, only 32 of those have come from key players i.e. Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. Thornburg and Henderson could perhaps also fit into that category as top relief options, but the Brewers have had plenty of other relief options that have filled in adequately. Outside of that, it's been back-of-the-bullpen options and 25th man type players who have seen DL time.
The Brewers have been most fortunate in that they have had almost no losses to their starting rotation. Only one start has been missed due to injury when Yovani Gallardo hurt his ankle in late-May. Jimmy Nelson was recalled to make a quick spot start, but Gallardo was back his next turn around. The only change in the rotation since the beginning of the season has been due to performance -- Nelson has been recalled to take "Home Run" Estrada's place.
Milwaukee has had some minor injuries thrown in, too, of course. Most notably, Ryan Braun has been bothered all year by a nerve issue in his thumb. It would be unsurprising if his oblique/intercostal strain were still a bit of an issue as well at times. Carlos Gomez has had his tweaks as well. Overall, though, the Brewers have seen a very small amount of time lost from key players.
This remarkable run of health has, of course, been a good thing. No team wants to lose a key player for the long haul, and this has likely been a key reason the Brewers are heading into the second half in first place in the NL Central. It's impossible to quantify, of course, but some credit has to be given to head trainer Dan Wright and his staff. While a good part of health is luck, it seems like Wright and crew have been doing a great job of having players on a routine where they will stay on the roster.
If the team can continue to stay healthy, they'll have a good shot of continuing their surprisingly good 2014 campaign. Knock on wood, of course.