The only thing that can make a 1-6 week palatable enough to even write about is winning the last game of the week - and the Brewers managed to do that. Last week the Brewers couldn’t hit their way out of a paper bag. This week they managed to hit themselves out of said bag, but the starting pitching...oh, my.
TOP PITCHING STORY: A week ago I was singing the praises of the rotation, its depth, and the obvious genius of pitching coach Derek Johnson. Now the rotation looks thin and, well, bad, and Johnson’s IQ has taken a real hit. Such is baseball.
The Brewers rotation went 0-4 last week. They worked 35.1 innings, allowing 48 hits and 18 walks for a WHIP of 1.87 and an ERA of 8.92. A staggering nine homers allowed (and believe me, this team is staggering). Only 26 strikeouts. To get numbers that bad, everyone has to be bad, and they were. Jimmy Nelson had the best and worst starts of the week, a Jeckyll/Hyde performance if I’ve ever seen one. Unhittable last Sunday; incredibly hittable Friday night. Last week I was trying to figure out who would leave the rotation when Chase Anderson is ready. Now we could draw from a hat.
I’d still like to see a couple of Anderson appearances from the pen, but the team might not have that luxury.
Honorable Mention: OK, haters (NOT Hader, although he was good), Carlos Torres had a good week. He pitched in four games, going 4.2 innngs with a WHIP of 0.64 and a .133 BAA. He did allow a homer, of course, and his contributions meant little to achieving their goal (winning games), but still. Oh, and Hader? Despite a very rough first outing of the week, he worked 4 innings with a 0 ERA and a .143 BAA, fanning 6. Unfortunately, he walked 5...his success is probably not sustainable if he walks more than his innings total.
TOP HITTING STORY: Ryan Braun is heating up. He finished this week with a .517/.562/.753 slash, OPSing 1.321. The power is just starting to peek through, but a hot hitting Braun could help this offense get back a bit of its mojo. He has raised his batting average to .292, and his total season stats suddenly look very Braun-ish. He has appeared in just over half of the team’s games, though, and that will be the issue going forward. Bit even in spite of the injury issues, he remains quite formidable at the plate.
Honorable Mention: Orlando Arcia continues to hit. Not great, but consistently. He hit for .321/.321/.429, with an OPS of .750 last week. That isn’t great, but for a weeks worth of work when you aren’t particularly hot, it will do. His future looks so bright, we gotta wear shades! And his defense was solid, except for that one throw to second against the Reds to try and catch Billy Hamilton napping that Jonathan Villar should have caught anyways so I guess I shouldn’t really hold it against him.
IMHO: Milwaukee completed a trade for infielder Neil Walker yesterday, sending a player to be named (can we pick a name for him?) to the Mets. Yes, the Brewers completed a trade with the Mets...hoodathunk?
Walker has had success at the major league level, is just 31, and is a total rental as he will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season. His production for the second half isn’t much better than Villar’s, so we shouldn’t expect him to be the savior of the second half. Even so, the team had to know he was on the way last night, and they played their best baseball in a week, so maybe the jump start of a move was all that was needed. And maybe a change of scenery will help the switch-hitting Walker get hot down the stretch. Stranger things have happened.
Special Bonus Opinion: Anthony Swarzak made one appearance and threw one inning last week. I find that odd.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: If you don’t follow Brad Ford’s daily minor league reports, you should. You can always find something positive going on after another Brewer loss by looking at the day’s doings. If nothing else, you can look at the Sky Sox record and dream of seasons to come.
Anyways, the report from Wednesday, August 9th brought the great news that Adrian Houser is starting to pitch after his Tommy John surgery. Houser was acquired in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers deal to Houston which has already given us Domingo Santana in right and Brett Phillips waiting in the wings. If Houser also contributes, well, happy days. Adrian worked two innings with nothing else to show on his line except 5 strikeouts. A little back and forth in comments was nicely summed up by jgeisler95:
You're absolutely correct.
But as you probably know, Houser’s in the AZL because he’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The video will be able to say a lot more about his outing than the stat line, but 5 K’s in 2 IP is something to be cautiously excited about, because that likely means either:
A) He was locating his pitches (typically one of the last things to fully return to a player after elbow surgery) or
B) His velocity is ticking up and he felt comfortable throwing at high effort.
Perhaps it was both, which would be great.
Two days off next week could mean that Eric Sogard sticks around and Brent Suter goes to Colorado Springs; we’ll find out today when the corresponding move to get Neil Walker space on the 40 man and 25 man rosters. If Sogard stays, somebody else will need to be removed from the 40 man.
After today’s finale against the Reds, and the first off day, Milwaukee travels for two in Pittsburgh, then gets that second day to trek all the way to Denver for a weekend three game set against the Rockies. Both teams are competing with the Brewers for a play-off spot, although the Rockies are competing better. Til next week!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference