Two losses, one to start and one to end the week, bracketed a four game winning streak as the Milwaukee Brewers climbed back to a .500 record, going 4-2 during the past seven days. The first three wins came courtesy of strong starts from Wily Peralta, Chase Anderson, and Jimmy Nelson, and the Brewers used a pair of four run innings to win the fourth.
TOP HITTING STORY: What a week for Eric Thames! He slugged four homers, slashed .444/.524/1.222 for an OPS of 1.746. It would seem that he has adjusted very nicely to the pitching in MLB after his three successful seasons in Korea. Small sample size, yes, but leading all of baseball in OPS is impressive, as is Thames’ production against left handed pitching. In just five plate appearances against same-handed hurlers, Eric has two homers.
Manny Pina had a fine week (1.462 OPS), and Domingo Santana rebounded from a rough first week with consistent solid contact, producing three doubles and two homers for an OPS of 1.213.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Jonathan Villar continues to struggle. Nine strikeouts in 27 plate appearances was actually an improvement over last week. He had just three hits on the week, with one a double and one a homer. He was successful in all three steal attempts, so I guess there’s improvement there. Jonathan is lucky that he didn’t have this start last season; he will get a much longer leash this year to return to form.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Of the three previously mentioned good starts, the best was by Chase Anderson as he shut out the Toronto Blue Jays over seven innings in the Brewers’ 2-0 win last Wednesday. He allowed only three hits, faced trouble in only one inning, and finished with two walks and seven strikeouts. Most importantly, it didn’t look fluke-ish. He located all of his pitches well and his changeup had great movement. The Jays were consistently fooled, seemingly unable to pick up what pitch was on the way.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Both losses this week were in games started by Zach Davies. He was better Saturday and actually left with a lead, but his week still reads an ERA of 7.20 and a WHIP of 1.60 over ten innings. The four walks are troubling. Better command and longer outings from Davies are crucial to any sustained success the team might hope for.
IMHO: The first two hitters in the Brewers’ batting order must be the most dichotomous in baseball. Villar is getting on base so far at a .241 clip. He has walked 9.3% of the time (not horrible, but not up to his standard from last year) and struck out 38.9% of the time. So about half of his plate appearances don’t put the ball in play. And when he does, his BABIP is just .200.
Eric Thames hits second, and leads the majors with an OPS of 1.373. His BABIP is .400 (an unsustainable number, unless they continue going over the fence). Let’s hope that Villar gets on track to his performance levels from last season and Thames doesn’t regress too much.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Brewers’ GM David Stearns continued to tinker with the back-end of the roster (both 25 man and 40 man) by making two deals with the Baltimore Orioles. Gone are relief pitchers David Goforth and Damien Magnifico, and now with Milwaukee are Oliver Drake and the 15th slot in the International signing bonus slot.
Poster stempke started an interesting discussion with his observation of the various and sundry moves made on an almost weekly basis by Stearns:
The way he handles the last few spots on the roster are about the only thing I don't like about Stearns
I’m not even talking about whether the moves he makes are the right ones. I have no idea if Drake is more valuable than Goforth or Magnifico. But I really don’t like how we seem to jerk guys around and have them on the roster for only a couple days and then uproot their lives again. It’d be one thing if they were guys with options being sent down and called up, every team has a "taxi" player or two. But we DFA them which means they have no idea where they’ll be playing next week. That strikes me as wrong.
A chance today to take the series from the Reds and climb back to within a game of first. Then it’s on to Chicago for three and St. Louis for four next week. It’s an NL Central week, so each game counts as two...kinda. Fun season so far!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference