The Brewers are mired in the worst slump of the season and it's team wide. The pitching has been bad, the defense has been bad, and the hitting has been bad. One little change isn't going to fix everything, but you have to start somewhere. Now that Carlos Gomez is back I'd start by benching Ryan Braun.
It's no secret Braun has been dealing with a thumb injury all season. He's going to be dealing with it for his entire career too, but we can't worry about that now. At present, there is a simple solution that provides three potential benefits. I'm talking about playing Gerardo Parra instead of Braun.
The first benefit is inarguable. Having Parra in right field instead of Braun is a defensive boon. In his career Braun went from a historically bad third baseman, to a bad left fielder, then over time to a solid left fielder, and now in his first year at it a below average right fielder. Parra is a former gold glove winner. He has better range, speed, and the strongest throwing arm in the outfield.
The second benefit is less certain. Having Parra in the lineup instead of Braun could be an offensive boon. Take a look at this:
|Ryan Braun||Gerardo Parra|
|Season||508 PA: 273/323/471, 118 wRC+||521 PA: 264/310/374, 86 wRC+|
|2nd Half||186 PA: 230/280/397, 86 wRC+||122 PA: 301/339/442, 116 wRC+|
|Last 30 Days||.98 PA: 234/265/372, 74 wRC+||64 PA: 311/344/443, 118 wRC+|
If we were looking at two healthy players, I might argue that Ryan Braun should play because he offers the higher ceiling. But as we know he's not healthy. We're dealing with a bit of a sample size issue, but Parra has been better offensively than Braun and for a long time. Right now, it's hard to be worse than Braun has been so I'd chance it with Parra and not give it a second thought.
The final benefit is theoretical. As I've mentioned several times, Ryan Braun's performance is being killed by the nerve issue in his thumb. It's not going to go away, but resting it has seemed to help in the past. If Braun were to sit for a week or more, perhaps he'd be able to bounce back again. Perhaps, he'd be able to be himself for 15 games in the postseason. Or maybe resting him wouldn't help at all. With this we're just guessing and hoping.
Time is running out. The Brewers are a game and a half back of the second Wild Card with 18 games left to play. For the reasons stated up, I'm not convinced Ryan Braun should play a single one of them if they want to make the playoffs. Gerardo Parra has at least earned a shot at it and if things go well, we could get the Ryan Braun of old just in time for the most important part of the year: The playoffs.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs