Remember how this week started? Last Sunday the Brewers trailed the New York Mets and Jacob DeGrom 7-1 after five innings. Wily Peralta had suffered through another disappointing start, leaving after 4.1 innings and being charged with all seven runs (although he was aided and abetted by Jhan Marinez’s less than stellar relief appearance). For their efforts, Wily was sent to the pen, and Marinez was sent packing. Seems like a week ago, doesn’t it?
But the Brewers rallied, and despite the Mets’ two Mony Insurance Runs, Milwaukee capped a thriller with a three-run Manny Pina homer in the eighth for an 11-9 victory, and they were off and running on a 5-1 week and a charge into first place in the NL Central. Almost 6-0, as the Padres snatched one back Monday night with a two run tenth to tip the Brewers 6-5, ruining the evening for Saydee Sogard...but that surprise ending couldn’t stop the runaway freight train that is the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers even spotted the league their 2, 3, and 4 hitters for half of the week, and could not be stopped. As I write this weekly, I won’t point out how this is likely to be a relatively short stay atop the division. Those caveats will come in subsequent Sundries.
TOP HITTING STORY: Saydee’s Dad Eric had a pretty darn good week. A couple of four hit games, batting .450 for the week, OPS’ing 1.310, slugging three doubles and a homer, scoring five times and driving in five. He drew four walks. He did not strike out all week. His production was hugely integral to the 5-1 week. He was so effective that the Friday game in Wet Wrigley saw him starting in left field, his first outfield appearance in organized ball, just to keep his bat in the line-up. Eric Sogard may very well have ensured himself a roster spot when Ryan Braun is re-activated from the disabled list.
Honorable Mention: A tremendous spring training that earned him a roster spot wound up leading to some early struggles for Jesus Aguilar, but lately he has become a crucial part of manager Craig Counsell’s deep position player group. With Eric Thames out with strep for much of the week, Aguilar provided more key hits (including a big RBI double in the comeback against the Mets) this week, as he collected two doubles, a triple, a homer, and four RBI. The Brewers need to somehow continue getting him regular at bats, even when Braun is back in left field.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Corey Knebel took over the closing spot from Neftali Feliz this week, and appeared in four games, saving all three of his opportunities. While he allowed only one hit, he did walk four...but struck out nine. In his new role as an afterthought, Feliz appeared in one game for one inning, giving up two hits and a run on five hard-hit balls last Sunday against the Mets - and got the win.
Honorable Mention: Welcome back Jacob Barnes! Jacob started well, but was in a tailspin for the two previous weeks. But this week he made three appearances, allowing just one hit and one walk, striking out three. With Feliz seemingly unusable in high leverage situations, Barnes’ contributions are crucial.
MORE Honorable Mentions: Congrats to Paolo Espino! He has persevered through parts of 11 minor league seasons, and made his first major league appearance in a four inning start Friday against the Cubs. Paolo didn’t get the win, but the Brewers did. Also, that game saw the debut of Bullpen Wily, as Peralta worked the seventh and eighth innings after the lengthy rain delay, allowing no runs while fanning five.
IMHO: I am starting to see some national attention being paid to the Brewers and their surprising start. I am also starting to see comments about Mark Attanasio bringing pressure on Milwaukee GM David Stearns to make moves to stay in contention if the successful play continues.
Attanasio has confidence in Stearns. He gave him full authority on player moves to rebuild the ball club, and has to be ecstatic on how those moves have worked out. He understands how this process works - and please remember, it is a process - and is not going to interfere in how the club is managed. There are options within the system, both hitting and pitching, to improve the club that will not hurt the future of the Brewers in an effort to compete this year. The only thing I could see Attanasio doing would be to strongly urge Stearns to keep Ryan Braun and not deal him, no matter what the return. But at this point it doesn’t exactly seem likely that a Braun deal would come together anytime soon, anyway.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field in Chicago was rained out, a day after horrific conditions had a significant impact on the outcome of the Brewers win over the Cubs (I’m looking at YOU, Kyle Schwarber). cwolf20 echoed the thoughts of many:
If only someone could develop a way to play baseball in the rain
But still allow open air baseball when it’s nice out.
Have at it, Traditionalists!
The Brewers face Jake Arrieta and the rest of the World Champion Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley, get a day off Monday, and then welcome the Toronto Blue Jays for two games and Arizona Diamondbacks to Miller Park for four. Another exciting week of baseball!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference