The Brewers are living on the edge. Their offense is playing poorly enough for them to be lucky to win one or two games in a week, yet they managed to go 3-4. This leaves them a half game up on the Cubs, and unfortunately current trends indicate that next week’s Sundries will have Chicago back in first place.
Milwaukee was outscored 29-19 last week. That’s not even three runs scored a game. Giving up just over four runs a game isn’t bad; it isn’t even debilitating. For all of our consternation over the bullpen, it was actually not bad last week. But if the offense doesn’t wake up, the Brewers could be three or four back after this coming week.
Some help for the offense could be on the way. Jonathan Villar and Ryan Braun are completing their rehab stints in Appleton, and look to have their bats going - at least against low-A level arms. Braun had a homer and two walks Saturday, and Villar three hits. What changes on the roster to accommodate their return? It would seem likely that Lewis Brinson will rejoin the Sky Sox to get regular at-bats, and most likely Nick Franklin will be the odd man out. He could be DFA’d, and whether he is claimed or not is a puzzle. If he isn’t, having him at Colorado Springs as insurance might be a good plan. Craig Counsell has indicated that Eric Sogard will continue starting at second base and leading off, so usage for Villar is up in the air. Braun will need regular time off, so Hernan Perez will likely get starts there, and in resting Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana. Villar will then back up the three “skill” positions around the infield.
TOP HITTING STORY: The aforementioned Sogard had a great lead-off week. He was on base at a .577 rate and OPS’d 1.227. He had four doubles in his 20 official at-bats. But he only scored three times and didn’t drive in a run. The Brewers spaced their hits nicely all week, almost never getting them to drive in the ‘big’ run(s). But if Sogard continues to get on base at a .450+ clip, he will score lots of runs. He will become a run-scorer.
(Dis)honorable Mention: Eric Thames had a very bad week. (We are all Erics, all the time here on Sunday Sundries.) He slashed .120/.185/.160 - OPS of .345. One of his three hits was a double. He did drive in two runs, which is a much more efficient use of his hits than most...kinda. One of the ribbies was on a groundout. He struck out eleven times. Jesus Aguilar could probably use a little playing time.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Zach Davies takes the mound today against the Braves, and he is in dire need of a good start. Of course, the Brewers are in dire need of a good start from him, too. In his lone start last week he went five innings and allowed seven earned on ten hits, with a walk and two homers allowed. Almost all of the damage came in the first inning, as he allowed six runs with a homer and triple. A struggling offense doesn’t like to see a deficit that large before they even get to hit. Even a well-oiled machine of an offense doesn’t like to see that. For the season his ERA now sits at 5.40, and opponents are hitting .303 against him.
Honorable Mention: As noted, the bullpen was better. They gave up only five of the 29 runs allowed last week, and four of them came in Wily Peralta’s horrible one inning outing. The other was an unearned run against Brent Suter. Paolo Espino only made one appearance, but worked 2.2 scoreless innings and gave up no hits or walks. Generally, games were lost early last week, not by the pen. Even Wily’s appearance didn’t lose the game - it just put it out of reach.
IMHO: Orlando Arcia made a great game-saving play to end the Wednesday victory over the Pirates, and had a few other fine efforts that showcased his range and strong arm. But he also had two errors this week, both of the more careless than anything variety. One very clearly contributed to a lost game, when he lost a perfect toss from Sogard that cost the Brewers two outs and a run. Arcia is very young and plays with great flair, but making sure that the routine plays are executed is as important as making the highlight reel plays.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Earlier this week I brought up the possibility of adding an arm to the bullpen through a trade, and highlighted the A’s Ryan Madson - long a favorite of mine. My suggestion was moving a prospect, or prospects, to shore up the pen. (The Brewers’ bullpen, as mentioned above, had a good week last week - but rest assured that more bad weeks will come.) nullacct struck a cord with his succinct answer:
would it be wise for the Brewers to give up assets
Posted by nullacct on Jun 19, 2017 | 9:41 AM
That is a reasonable position to take, especially when looking at acquiring an aging reliever. But it got me thinking: at what point do prospects no longer become assets? At what age or level of minor league time are they no longer attractive to other teams? What is the value of an asset if it is never used? The Brewers have many assets in the minors that will never be significant parts, if they play any part at all, of the major league team. David Stearns will need to determine how best to use these assets, and using them to acquire other players is a very viable expenditure of said assets. Perhaps not in acquiring Ryan Madson, right now, but soon. Ryan Cordell is 25 years old. Not too old to become a contributor to the Milwaukee Brewers in the future, but with the depth of outfield talent in the minor league system it is hard to see him as a starter. Wouldn’t it then make sense to use him to acquire a position that the Brewers need - either by himself or in tandem with other assets?
The Brewers finish up their series in Atlanta today, then get Monday off. Tuesday finds them in Cincinnati for three, then home for the weekend with the Marlins coming to town. Get the bats going, gentlemen!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference