The Milwaukee Brewers’ bats awoke last week, with major assists awarded to the Cincinnati Reds’ pitching staff and also to Coors Field. Just a note - if the Brewers could sustain 12 homers every five games they’d hit 389 homers in the season. Acceptable.
Anyways, the 4-1 week still leaves Milwaukee two games back of the first place Cubs, and a half game ahead of the third place Cardinals. There are seven games remaining in the dreaded west coast swing, but a win Sunday in Denver and two of three in San Francisco would make whatever happens against the juggernaut that is the Dodgers a little easier to take. The Wild Card doesn’t seem as impossible as it did earlier this season, and the Brewers trail both the D-Backs and Rockies by 3½ games.
TOP HITTING STORY: What a typical Keon Broxton week! Limited to twelve at bats by the two off days and a centerfield start by Jonathan Villar, Keon managed six strikeouts. So he only put the ball in play six times. Of those six, Broxton had four solo homers. A homer every three at bats, and a strikeout every two! He didn’t draw a walk, but still produced a True Outcome Percent of 83.3%! Inconceivable!
Small sample size, you say? That’s what Sunday Sundries is all about!
Honorable Mention: It would appear that Brewers GM David Stearns is somewhat of a magician. Needing another bat for the slumping offense, he convinced the Mets to PAY him to take Neil Walker off their hands, and promised to send them someone later. In his first week as a Brewer, Walker hit .421/.500/.579, OPSing 1.079. He had an important homer in Wednesday’s homer-barrage win over the Reds, and scored two and drove in four for the week. His defense was very good. And I love me some switch-hitters in the lineup. We’ll see what his hitting stats look like after facing the Giants and Dodgers next week, but early returns are positive.
Honorable Mention part deux: Nicely done, Jesus Aguilar! That game winning pinch homer Saturday night would have been gone anywhere.
TOP PITCHING STORY: The up and down Brewer bullpen was up this week. Another late season David Stearns’ acquisition, Anthony Swarzak, returned from his stiff neck issues and made two appearances, winning both. And he was one of only two relievers to allow any runs - one. (Josh Hader was charged with two yesterday.) Jacob Barnes, Jared Hughes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, and Carlos Torres were all unscored upon, and Knebel had a save in all four wins. The total group combined for a 1.62 ERA and a WHIP of 1.05, striking out 18 in 16.2 innings.
(dis)Honorable Mention: Remember those four homers by Broxton? Matt Garza allowed four in just 91⁄3 innings, all by himself. His opponents amassed an OPS of 1.183 against him. Fourteen hits and seven walks in those innings. And he hit a batter (and IIRC it was an 0-2 pitch, which seems the rule this year, both for Brewer hitters and pitchers...although that might just be recency bias). For good measure he gave up two unearned runs. No other Brewer pitcher gave up a homerun, which is nice.
IMHO: Craig Counsell is continuing to mix and match his “position players” with generally good results. Everyone plays, and everyone stays fresh and is prepared whenever needed. Most guys get days off (although Travis Shaw is playing a lot). Having twelve players that are all starter worthy (to one degree or another) is a real change for the Brewers, and isn’t an easy thing for a small market franchise to accomplish. MORE kudos to David Stearns!
A detailed examination of whether or not it would be wise - or possible - to sign Free Agent to Be Walker for next year would be interesting, but is beyond the scope of the simple Sunday Sundries, and deserves the attention of a full article itself. Expected production, cost, and who might get blocked are all considerations. And Walker will regress to his career averages. But still, he is a very solid player to have on the roster.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Kyle filled us in on Fangraphs’ top 100 prospect rankings, which included six Brewers. (Two of the six are kinda major leaguers now - Hader and Woodruff - but I quibble.) Maverick Phillips isn’t one of them and Junbug11 is curious as to why:
While I still think Phillips is probably not the best prospect in the system.
I am curious why scouts don’t even think he’s in the top 10. Especially if Monte Harrison is close to making the list. I feel more confident in Phillips having a major league career than I do Diaz, Dubon or Erceg at this point.
Actually, I hope not. I hope that Phillips is a solid starting major league outfielder for the Brewers, and that Diaz and Erceg are even better. I’m not sold on Dubon, but he can be successful too, if he likes.
The aforementioned western swing finishes up this week, and after today’s finale in Denver the Brewers go to San Francisco and Los Angeles for six more games. Stay close, and they will have the opportunity to take things into their own hands as they face the Cardinals and Cubs in twelve of their remaining 38 games (five against St. Louis, seven against Chicago). Fun stuff!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference