I have to work harder at remembering that baseball is a 162 game marathon. As frustrating as any individual game was this week, the Brewers still managed to go 4-3 and increased their lead to two games in the NL Central. You know what? If you win one more than you lose every week, you will get to around 30 over .500. That would be acceptable.
Things that happened this week:
- Brett Phillips, Josh Hader, and Lewis Brinson all joined the major league squad
- Travis Shaw went on paternity leave and then had to go on emergency family medical leave. All thoughts and prayers from BCB to the Shaw family.
- Jonathan Villar looks to have avoided serious injury while making a perhaps game saving play on Friday night, but ended up on the disabled list anyways.
- Scooter Gennett hit four homers in a game, driving in ten, and it wasn’t even against the Brewers...it was against the Cardinals!
- Paolo Espino and Chase Anderson both had hits!
TOP HITTING STORY: Domingo Santana remains the hottest bat in the line-up, a line-up that is now missing three starters. Sunday hit .360, had an OBP of .467, and an OPS of 1.107. He scored five times, drove in four, and upped his season home run total to 11 with another two dingers this week. His steady bat is going to make it difficult for the Brewers to not include him in their plans for the near and not so near future.
Honorable Mention: Hernan Perez’s bat and versatility are again proving invaluable for Milwaukee. A slash of .300/.318/.830, OPS of 1.168, and two double/three homer week were huge in maintaining a first place position. Scored four, drove in five. Hernan will get over 500 at-bats this year, and could very well hit 25 homers.
Note: Eric Thames is not hitting. But you know what? His OPS was .833 last week.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Two relievers did their jobs last week. Jared Hughes worked in four of the seven games, throwing four hitless innings without a walk (he did hit a batter) for a 0.25 WHIP. It seems that using a high riding fastball to change eye levels for the hitters is working very well.
Corey Knebel also worked four games and saved every one of them. 4.1 more innings and 9 more strikeouts for the Brewer closer...no hits, one walk. In case you hadn’t noticed, Knebel has just nasty stuff.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Relievers not named Hughes or Knebel appeared 17 times, working 15 innings and giving up 22 hits and 13 walks. Of the 15 runs allowed, 12 were earned. They struck out 10. TEN! I could strike out ten in 15 innings in today’s game! )Well, no. No I couldn’t. I probably couldn’t throw the ball all the way to the plate any more.) And those numbers include Josh Hader’s successful one inning debut Saturday night. He walked two and fanned one, and now carries a career ERA of 0.00. Welcome to the big leagues, Josh!
IMHO: I find it difficult to criticize Craig Counsell’s bullpen usage. In any given week, he seems to have two good options and a plethora of bad ones. Two guys can’t pitch every day (four is probably too many out of seven). So he has to use the tools he is provided.
And there is the rub. The Brewers tried to go cheap in constructing the pen this year, and gambled that Neftali Feliz could close games, something he hasn’t done well in a long time. Feliz’s failures have been many and often, and he has been demoted to a set-up/mop-up role. In fact, that’s what most of the pen is. Milwaukee has the lowest payroll in baseball. A more aggressive approach to FA relievers could have built a solid pen. At worst, that would have provided more trade fodder at the deadline if the team was not performing. But they are despite the bullpen, and the injuries. The addition of Josh Hader may help. He has electric stuff, but command will be an ongoing issue.
I wouldn’t go so far as to trade any real prospects for a bullpen arm. But I wonder what it might take to pry Mark Melancon away from the Giants? Probably some top prospects. Oh well.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Kyle’s weekly mailbag always provides valuable and useful information for Brewer fans and the general public. Witness this exchange:
Do the Cardinals really eat babies?
Yes. Quick story: I have three kids - my stepson Noah, age 6, my older daughter Layla, who is almost 4, and my youngest daughter Roisin, who is almost 6 months. We’ve got a couple of bird feeders outside our house, and one day Layla was looking out the window and saw a Cardinal land on one of the bird feeders. I was sitting in the living room holding Roisin, and all of a sudden Layla ran outside and started yelling at the bird and waving her arms to shoo it away. When she came back in the house, she said proudly “Daddy, I just chased a Cardinal away so that it wouldn’t come in the house and eat baby Rosie!”
Learn ‘em young, Kyle!
The Brewers look to win their first series since mid-May this afternoon in Phoenix, and then have an off day Monday. The players will pay for that off day with a doubleheader in St. Louis against said Cardinals, part of a four game set in three days. Then it’s back home for three with the Padres.
Can Layla go to St. Louis and chase away those Cardinals?
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference