The Milwaukee Brewers put together a solid week in their quest for a postseason berth, going 4-2. But they lost a full game in the standings to the Cubs and a half game to the Rockies, so they head into their final fourteen games 4.0 back in the division and 3.5 in the Wild Card. That isn’t insurmountable on either front, but both of those teams are playing some very good baseball right now, so opportunities for gaining on them could be scarce. Baseball is unpredictable, though, so there’s that.
It was a week of not-close games, at least in the final scores. The closest win was a 3-1 decision over the Cubs last Sunday, and that was a tight, tense affair. The two losses were 7-0 and 7-4, and in both games the Brewers were behind early and never really threatened. Of course, Friday’s 10-2 win was 2-2 going into the eighth, so that score was deceiving. On a depressing note, since their Sunday loss to Milwaukee, the Cubs have won five straight and outscored their opposition 51-17.
TOP HITTING STORY: Just in time for the stretch run, Eric Thames has re-discovered his April form. He homered in three consecutive games this week, and finished with a slash of .462/.563/1.231 and an OPS of 1.793. He is making consistent hard contact, and has cut down on swings at pitches out of the zone. Eric seems comfortable hitting in the six slot in the order; either that’s a coincidence or it took an awfully long time to figure that out.
Honorable Mention: Domingo Santana had an odd week. At times he looked totally inept, and yet he finished the week slashing .353/.389/.588, OPS of .977, scored six times and drove in five. He walked just once, and struck out six times. He is the epitome of the Brewers’ offense.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Once again, it’s the whole bullpen. Milwaukee pitched 52 innings this week, and 25.2 of them came as relievers (Jeremy Jeffress had two innings as a starter, so those don’t count). In those 25.2 innings, the pen allowed just 15 hits and 6 walks for a WHIP of 0.818. Their ERA was 0.70. They struck out 37, or about 13 per nine innings. That’s remarkable success.
Honorable Mention: The top performers were Jared Hughes and Josh Hader. Hader worked in just two games, but allowed nothing in his 2.2 innings while striking out 6. Hughes pitched in five of the six games after being seemingly forgotten last week, and allowed just two hits and a walk in his 4.1 innings, with no runs.
IMHO: Craig Counsell has taken full advantage of his expanded September roster. Whatever you think of how baseball governs the rosters at this time of year, the players are available and teams might as well take advantage of the extra bodies.
Twenty different players had at bats this week. Twice the Brewers started pitchers that they knew weren’t going to go more than three innings. Double switches were so common that Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly couldn’t keep up and got tossed from Friday’s game for repeatedly complaining to the umps that he had no idea what was going on.
Counsell was aggressive all week; the Brewers attempted ten steals in their six games (seven successfully) and the line-ups were so different game to game that at times it felt like spring training.
On a side note, Brewer pitchers walked just ten batters in the six games, which is very good. And they drew 31 (that’s thirty-one) free passes. Remarkable.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: The Brewers announced their minor league players of the year, and they were Lewis Brinson and pitcher Corbin Burnes. Neither award is a surprise, and the rise of Burnes to one of the top prospects in the system (from twentieth) is a great development. The future looks bright.
Big10freak has some advice for the Milwaukee Brewers:
Brinson should start in the majors next season
He’s wasting time in the minors
Brinson’s peak output will be between ages 24-28
He needs to be in the majors for the Brewers to benefit.
This is not hard to understand. It had better happen
I do think it is important to note that David Stearns does not respond well to threats...
The Brewers move on to the penultimate week of their surprising season as the “road” trip continues into Pittsburgh for three. Then it’s back home for what will likely be another sweep-or-bust series with the Cubs, this one a four game set at Miller Park over next weekend. Of course, just the fact that we are discussing meaningful baseball going into the final two weeks of the 2017 season is remarkable. It’s been a blast.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference