There were only three games this week, mind you, but 3-0 will do nicely. The Cubs have come out of the break mashing (against the hapless Orioles’ pitching staff), but the Brewers actually INCREASED their lead to 5½ games over the north siders. Milwaukee averaged almost six runs per game, so hitting was the big story - although the pitching had some very good aspects as well.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Speaking of good, the Brewers’ bullpen worked ten scoreless innings in the three games, allowing four hits with 17 strikeouts. Corey Knebel saved all three games after his days off in Miami. They did walk six, but a 1.000 WHIP will do. The pen’s work gave the Crew a three-run win, a two-run win, and a one-run win. No laughers this week — every game went down to the wire.
Honorable Mention: Holy Schnikes! Jimmy Nelson worked 43.2% of all innings pitched this week! Is such over-use sustainable? That would be nice, as he solidly kept Milwaukee in both games he started. The Sunday 5-3 win over the Yankees was a portrait of persistence, while his start against the Phillies last night was dominant. Jimmy came out perhaps earlier than he would have liked (well, not perhaps. He was ticked - but I like that), but the bullpen moves worked like a charm, so I ain’t complainin’. I’ll leave that to Jimmy.
TOP HITTING STORY: Jonathan Villar hit like a lead-off hitter this week! His slash line of .429/.429/.429 is beautifully symmetrical - not overly impressive, but baby steps. He scored three and drove in none with his six singles. So in a full season he’d have 324 hits, 162 runs scored, no RBI, and no extra base hits. Seriously, though, he stung the ball hard several times, and his fifth inning single last night was on a very tough breaking ball off the outside corner from Aaron Nola - JV slapped it to left nicely. He stole second and came in to tie the game on Eric Thames’ double. Very lead-offish.
Honorable Mention: Travis Shaw is starting to get attention outside of Milwaukee. His .273/385/.818, OPS 1.203 was pretty spectacular - and his two homers for the three games helped produce five RBI. There is a lot of depth to the Brewers position player group, and even “Sunday Lineups” look pretty darn good (especially Sunday lineups that include Sunday).
IMHO: It is better to be the pursuer than the pursued (hey - cliches don’t need to be true), so it would behoove the Brewers to keep looking up in the standings, not behind them. Yesterday they caught the Colorado Rockies to tie for the fourth best record in the NL. The Arizona D’Backs and Washington Nationals are within shouting distance.
The REAL Standings:
- Los Angeles Dodgers ..... 63-29 ... .685 ... -
- Washington Nationals ... 54-36 ... .600 ... 8
- Arizona Diamondbacks .. 53-38 ... .582 ... 9½
- Milwaukee Brewers ........ 52-41 ... .559 ... 11½
- Colorado Rockies ............. 52-41 ... .559 ... 11½
- Chicago Cubs .................... 45-45 ... .500 ... 17
- Atlanta Braves .................. 44-45 ... .494 ... 17½
- St. Louis Cardinals ........... 44-46 ... .489 ... 18
Barring a California earthquake, nobody is catching the Dodgers. Let’s hope that they burn themselves out and don’t have anything left in the tank in the National League Championship Series against Milwaukee.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Sonny Gray! Sonny Gray Sonny Gray! The Cubs used the break to acquire former White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana for four prospects as they chase the five teams above them, and many thought that Milwaukee had to respond. I don’t think they MUST respond, but I think they will. And it sounds like they could deal for Gray sooner rather than later, giving up some significant prospects in the process. My guess is that Matt Garza will also go to the A’s, with the Brewers picking up some of his salary, to clear a spot for Gray. So there is more riding on Garza’s start today than just another win. There are pitchers with options that aren’t performing all that well (Davies, Guerra), so it is possible that Gray could come in and take one of those spots, but with Chase Anderson hopefully returning within a few weeks and Brent Suter looking solid in a small sample, removing a candidate from the slate makes sense. — to me, anyhoo.
Kyle discussed what a trade like this would mean here, and a lively discussion produced a reasonable alternative to “mortgaging the future” from our resident poll-master, aaronetc:
Has Stearns considered mortgaging the past instead?
We don’t need that anymore, so it seems ideal to get rid of.
BCB Tracking Poll - Every Monday in the Fanposts
This fits in well with acquiring Dorian Gray, does it not? (Isn’t Sonny a nickname for Dorian?)
And onward we go. Milwaukee goes for the sweep today against the Phillies, and then embarks on a ten game, eleven day road trip out east for four in Pittsburgh, three in Philly for a rematch with the Phils, and a crucial three game set in D.C. with our standings target, the Washington Nationals. See you all next Sunday!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference