The best thing about writing Sunday Sundries is that it provides me with perspective about what happened over the course of a week. It is often said that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s easy to get caught up in 1/162 of a season (or 3/162, as the case may be). That last game against the Pirates and the first two against the Cubs were three of the most devastating losses a team in contention could possibly have. But the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 week only saw them lose a half game to the Cubs in the standings, and actually move up 21⁄2 games on the Rockies, now just a game back. The week most likely means that the Brewers will not be Central Division champions this year, but that Wild Card berth is very much in play. (A special shout-out to Lance Lynn. The Cardinals’ starter helped the Brewers end the week back ahead of St. Louis by going 2⁄3 of an inning and giving up eight runs on six hits and two walks.)
It would be hard to accept if a season this fun ended up without a playoff spot, but fans of the Rockies feel the same way. (I don’t much care how fans of the Cards feel. They’ve had plenty of fun, often at our expense.) But accept it we would, and then we’d start looking at what might happen next season. I just hope that we get a bit of delay on that forward thinking thing.
Do you know that with a small adjustment (putting Ryan Braun at first base, which has been “discussed” ad nauseam), the Brewers could put out a line-up today of regular players that are all hitting between .272 and .279 as Brewers? Such consistency!
TOP PITCHING STORY: Josh Hader worked in three games of the seven, and had his best week as a Major Leaguer. He worked five innings, allowing three hits, no runs, NO WALKS, with six strikeouts. He was dominant. If he can maintain control like that, he will be in the rotation next season as a more or less two pitch pitcher. The change-up might come along enough to make it 21⁄2 pitches, which would be nice, but man, did he look tough last week. #Haderade, indeed.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Swarzak was over-worked this week. He pitched in five games, going 51⁄3 innings. He allowed a run, unearned courtesy of Corey Knebel’s throwing error, but gave up just two hits, no walks, and netted four K’s. His addition to the pen could easily be viewed as the main reason the Brewers are as close to post season play as they are.
Corey Knebel took two of the three losses this week. Sigh.
TOP HITTING STORY: Milwaukee hit the ball better this week. Not really enough, but better. Brett Phillips led the way with a slash of .438/.500/.688, for an OPS of 1.188. He contributed a double and a homer, and stole three bases. Nicely done, Maverick! Could he be hitting leadoff next season?
Honorable Mention: Domingo Santana’s three homers takes him to 28, and within striking distance of 30. If he makes it, the Brewers will have three players with 30 or more homers in a season for only the second time in franchise history. As a team, Milwaukee has 219 dingers, and 13 more over the last seven games would give them a franchise record 232. And, hopefully, power an 89-win season.
SIDE NOTE: Three of the above four stars for the week were not with the opening day roster. David Stearns has done a masterful job of adjusting and tweaking the roster as it became evident that the team was performing well enough to contend.
IMHO: Baseball needs to do something about how September baseball is played. The roster expansion leads to way too much double-switching, situational relieving, and time-of-gaming. It’s fun, but it isn’t the same game as we watch for the rest of the season or for the play-offs. Something along the lines of perhaps allowing a 26th man on each daily roster, with as large of a taxi-squad as you want within your 40 man roster. To take anybody off the daily roster that was not a September call-up would require use of the ten day DL (to stop teams from keeping only the one starting pitcher for that day and loading the pen with twelve relievers). This gives the Players’ Union their added service time (for any call-up), but Protects The Integrity Of The Game (which I’m sure the Cardinals would support).
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Wednesday’s extra inning loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh saw the Brewers use 24 players. JP asked us to grade Craig Counsell’s performance in managing that contest, and he came out with a solid B. (Congrats! That is the correct grade!)
Wohlfpack contributed a bit of prescience to the comments:
Can lose the battle
But win the war. I felt his use of the bullpen last night leaves us dangerously thin for the upcoming series. I could see using Barnes to get out of the inning, but felt he should’ve went with a long reliever after that. No swarzak, no knebel. If you see a pitcher enough…3 nights in a row…plus factoring their health, I felt it was inevitable for the pirates to get to them. Now who do we have for late innings tonight?
Indeed, the Brewers have needed lots of late inning relief. Four straight close games, including three that go to extra innings, will do that. Sure hope Chase Anderson throws an 80-pitch perfect game today.
So here we go - the last seven. (Next week’s Sunday Sundries will wait until Sunday night to include the Sunday game.) After a much needed off day Monday, the Reds come to Miller Park to conclude the home season with a three-game set, and then the Brewers go to St. Louis to finish things off. Whadayasay? Take the last seven to finish with an eight game streak while the Cubs collapse? I’m down with that.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference