I always feel much worse about a 3-3 week when the Milwaukee Brewers ‘accomplish’ it by losing the last three. By a combined score of 7-2. With only one earned run scored. And both runs driven in by sacrifice flies. Against the Cubs. Aaarrrgggghh.
Recency bias, and that. But doesn’t it feel like the Brewers will go 81-81, with all of the wins coming from the poor teams? I know, they have already notched a few wins against the Cardinals and Cubs, but I did say just “feel like”.
Are the Cubs that good on the mound? Evidence from the rest of their opponents says no. Have they just gotten into the Brewers’ collective heads? Have the Brewers gotten into their own collective heads? Maybe a little of both.
Anyway, the Brewers won their last game against the Miami Marlins and two in Kansas City before the last three excruciating losses to the Cubs.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Wow. This is a 3-3 week? The entire Brewer staff combined for 51 innings pitched with an ERA of 1.76 and a WHIP of 1.04. That includes mop-up man Oliver Drake (who now carries a 6.39 ERA and 1.74 WHIP on the season). Even though the defense reverted to allowing unearned runs (three on the week), the team still gave up just over two runs per game.
When Boone Logan is ready to come up, what will Craig Counsell do with his pen if the Brewers are behind? Drake has been the “we’re behind” pitcher. And will Logan replace Drake on the roster, or will Milwaukee send down, say, Taylor Williams and keep The Drake? Gotta have your “we’re behind” pitchers.
Honorable Mention: Why has Josh Hader not been used in the Cubs’ series? Is he not allowed to pitch if Milwaukee is behind? Granted, it would have made no difference (they could perhaps have lost yesterday 1-0 instead of 3-0), and to question Counsell’s management of the pitching staff is nit-picking to the extreme, but I really enjoy watching him pitch.
TOP HITTING STORY: The Brewers played last week, generally, with three pitchers in the line-up on a regular basis. The second base/shortstop combination of Orlando Arcia, Jonathan Villar, Eric Sogard, and Hernan Perez made 47 plate appearances. Their slash was .133/.170/.156 for an OPS of .326. They had a double. They had a walk. They scored twice, and drove in a run. They struck out 13 times and had a BABIP of .188. I mean, really? I’m not sure what action can actually be taken here, but at least one of those positions needs to produce something at the plate. I’m voting for second base. Arcia, at short, provides some quality defense. The defense at second is generally mediocre; let’s find a bat somewhere that can at least score or drive in a run every now and then. What would the Twins want for Brian Dozier’s last season before free agency? It’d probably start with Corbin Burnes, so that wouldn’t be a very popular move.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun slashed .318/.375/.409 for an OPS of .784. Hope that he stays healthy. Perhaps the Crew is missing Eric Thames. Which leads me to:
IMHO: Milwaukee is making a mistake by playing a man short on the offensive group. Again, it would most likely have made no difference in the Cub series, but Brett Phillips or Ji-Man Choi would have looked good in a crucial situation rather than any of the three pitchers in the line-up. But Brandon Woodruff has pitched one inning since he came back up, so his contribution has been minimal anyways.
Offensive issues always feel more frustrating than other issues, especially when it seemed like the Brewers had put together a new line-up and new approach this season. What can be done to make the offense less boom or bust?
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: After the frustrating 3-2 loss Friday, Eric Sogard came into some criticism for his over-all play, most likely intensified by his misplay on an eighth inning grounder that allowed the Cubs to score the eventual winning run. Sinister Minister gave a somewhat consensus opinion...without calling for an immediate dismissal:
But his OBP is over .350
Oh wait, that’s his OPS.
Look, I’m not one for hasty overreactions, so will put away my matches and effigy kit. Sogard seems like a decent guy and good teammate, but it’s time for him to own up and take another magical trip to the rejuvenating Springs of Colorado. How long does the team plug him in while waiting for his batting average to hit room temperature?
This is a solid lineup, 1-6, allowing for slow starts from Braun (looking better now) and Santana, these guys can still pose a threat. What follows is a precipitous dropoff – especially when injuries or rest demand Sogard or Perez starting. And that has been far too often. This team could use a strong bench utility bat. Better yet, a high quality 2B that allows Villar to take on the 2B, SS, 3B utility role.
Of course, that is easier said than done...replacing guys, I mean. Finding more production up the middle shouldn’t really be all that hard; maybe somebody in the group will start to hit their weight and save some of the Crew’s minor league capital.
After finishing off their series at Wrigley Field today, the Brewers will head out to the GAB in Cincinnati for three, where struggling Brewer offenses have often gone to get well. Then it’s back home for the first three of the young season with the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates. Is it too much to ask for a 4-2 week, including a much-needed win today against the Cubs? Scoring five today would be of help.
Enjoy your week, everyone!