After the Brewers took the finale in Cincy last Sunday and the opener Monday in Chicago, Milwaukee fans had high hopes for a big week in the NL Central. However, the club then blew two late leads in back-to-back games to lose the series against the Cubs. After coming back to Miller Park following that series, the Brewers did what they have done for the last umpteen years against the Cardinals - they lost two out of three. Still their country cousins.
Still, at 9-10, the Brewers trail the first place Cubs by just two games and are doing enough good things to hope for around .500 baseball for a while.
TOP HITTING STORY: When the Brewers divested themselves of Jonathan Lucroy last July and Martin Maldonado in the offseason, serious questions arose over what the Brewers would look like this season behind the dish. They’ve looked better than fine so far. Last week, Jett Bandy (while continuing his time share with Manny Pina) hit .400 with three homers, slugging 1.067 and getting on base at a .438 clip. His OPS of 1.504 led the team. Bandy’s defense lags a bit behind Pina’s, but they get production at the plate from both.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun continued to look like the best Brewer hitter ever, and his TVR is off the charts (that’s Trade Value Rising for the uninitiated). Braunie slashed .381/.458/.857 for an OPS 1.315 on the week, with three homers of his own. The trio of Eric Thames, Braun, and Travis Shaw in the 2-3-4 spots of the order has been very effective, and it would be a shame to break that up (and, truth be told, I don’t expect it to be broken up), but as long as the Brewers are in a defined rebuild mode rumors such as this will continue to be floated. At least they will be by internet nerds like me.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Trading top prospects or spending lots of money on bullpen arms continues to puzzle me (OK, an arm like Aroldis Chapman might be worth it), because players like Jacob Barnes show up yearly to do the job for next to nothing. Barnes made four appearances this week, working four innings and allowing one hit and one walk, no runs, and striking out eight. He recorded his first save of the season, and in a week that saw several close games go against Milwaukee and their relievers in the late innings, he was a shining star (yup, for relievers, you’re a shining star, no matter who you are). In ten appearances this season, Barnes has yet to allow a run and has a WHIP of 0.68. Seems acceptable.
Honorable Mention: The Brewers used five-plus million of their unused payroll dollars to sign veteran Neftali Feliz to be their closer, which certainly isn’t going to break the bank and could lead to a mid-season deal if he pitches effectively and other teams panic at the edge of contention. Feliz saved two games last week but blew a save and notched a loss in a ninth inning melt-down against the Cubs. I don’t really see much reason to switch to Corey Knebel or Barnes to closer (as we know, the seventh and eighth innings are just as important as the ninth) at this point. But it’s worth keeping in mind that Feliz was hurt or struggled in the four seasons prior to 2016, so it’s no guarantee that he’ll be effectively enough to keep his job as closer all year.
IMHO: Last night the Brewers’ turned a ninth inning, 2-1 deficit into a 4-1 Cardinal lead with some shoddy defense (and, admittedly, some good Cardinal hitting). Domingo Santana took the error to allow the last run to score on a somewhat poor throw in to Jonathan Villar, but once again Villar turned in a less than stellar effort to keep the throw in front of him. Sure, it was a short-hop, but since when do you turn your body and try and block the throw with your rear end? And then get up slowly and jog after the ball while the fourth run scores. Errors happen. Slumps happen. Even mental mistakes happen. But effort is totally in your control.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been designated for assignment by the Brewers. BCB commentors were somehow able to move past the pain and heartbreak of moving on from Capt. Kirk, and happily participated in speculation of when (and if) a replacement would be named. That might not happen for a while, as several (not-so-good) options remain on the roster to spell Keon Broxton in center - including Domingo Santana, Hernan Perez, and Nick Franklin.
tecatetremblay had some advice for Kirk in rehabilitating his major league career:
Should get a one-way ticket to Korea.
Root Root Root for the Baby Cakes!
Posted by tecatetramblay on April 21, 2017|7:55 pm
Do they have return flights three years in the future?
After Jimmy Nelson tries to gain a split with the Cards today, the Brewers welcome the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves for three games each at Miller Park. I’m interested to see the Braves odd amalgamation of grizzled vets and young prospects; they were trying to present a team that would be competitive while continuing their rebuild, but their early 6-11 record doesn’t bode well for this being a successful strategy. At least they are 4-3 at home.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference