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Sunday Sundries: Milwaukee Brewers Week 2 In Review

Brewers return to earth with a thud.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Brewers’ second week of the season is that they won two of the six games they played. This could very easily have been a winless week. The hitting was poor, the starting pitching was atrocious, and the defense was worse than either. Both wins were last at bat affairs, with the first coming in rather miraculous fashion - back to back homers to tie and win after getting down to their final strike.

(OK, that win...I’ll try and remember that one rather than the rest of the week. Probably will, too, since I was at the game. This is the second game I’ve attended that I’ve seen baseball history - this time, back to back dingers to start and end the game; last time (4-22-06) was when the Brewers hit five homers in one inning - that one just tied a major league record.)

That insert is the last positive thing I have for you. Sorry.

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Milwaukee Brewers
Oliver Drake: 3 appearances, 4.2 scoreless innings this week!
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

TOP PITCHING STORY: I’ll include defense in this part, even though it probably deserves a section of it’s own. If the defense were my kid it would be serving a time-out in the corner.

Since the week turned out so poorly, and recency bias (yesterday’s ninth inning collapse) always colors Sundries, let’s go with the bad first: the starting pitching. Over 31.1 innings, the starters allowed 42 hits, 10 walks, and two hit batsmen for a WHIP of 1.74. They allowed 26 runs, though only 21 were earned (yay defense!). That’s an ERA of 6.03, but a runs allowed average of 7.47. You give up seven and a half runs per game and you tend to lose more than you win. Oh yeah, and they gave up seven home runs. Guess how many double plays the starters induced? You got it - none.

The rotation is saying to the front office: “How do ya like me now?”

Honorable Mention: The bullpen largely made winning any games possible. If I could subtract Corey Knebel’s stats before he got hurt, these numbers would look very, very good. Instead, they just look good. 22.2 innings, 18 hits, 11 walks, 1 HBP, for a WHIP of 1.32. Their ERA was 2.78 and their runs allowed average was 3.57. The relief corps served up just one dinger.

The Brewers committed two errors in the first three games in San Diego last week, so it isn’t like they were pristine in the field or anything. This week’s six games saw eleven errors. Those errors led to seven unearned runs. That’s more than one per game. This is Little League level defense, folks. In nine games Milwaukee has eleven errors from their infield. How is this team above .500?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

TOP HITTING STORY: Because they’ve been lucky. The Crew really didn’t hit all that well this week; they were out-scored 35-16, but won two of the six contests. Eric Thames hit three homers for the week, putting up a .286/.318/.762 slash with an OPS of 1.080. Since nobody else was doing much of anything, the three runs he scored were on his homers, but he produced nearly a third (5 of 16) of the Brewers’ runs. Yay Aprilthames!

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Remember Lorenzo Cain’s fast start in San Diego? Turns out he can’t hit at Miller Park (this could perhaps be a tad hyperbolic). Cain slashed .087/.154/.261, OPS .415 this week. He did hit a homer. Milwaukee needs to hpoe that Christian Yelich can back from injury soon so LoCain can get a day off.

IMHO: The Brewers are now without their best (or second best) starting pitcher (Jimmy Nelson) and their closer (Corey Knebel, an All Star last year) for probably the next two months at least. Knebel could be back after six weeks, but total health before a return for both is more important that the actual date of their return. And who knows how soon either or both will be back up to form? It feels like it will be a challenge for the team to be close to .500 in the first half of the season. There comes a point when “next man up” doesn’t work, because the next man just isn’t as good as the one lost.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK: There are lots of negative things I could put here...including a lot of my own. But heck, let’s leave on a positive note and slip one in about the Yelich/Braun back-to-back show from last Tuesday’s 5-4 win over St. Louis:

The fact that we did this against the Cardinals makes it all the more awesome.

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Posted by Jack Stern on Apr 3, 2018 | 11:42 PM

There’s always that.

After the finale of the Cubs-Brewers series at Miller Park today, Milwaukee travels to St. Louis for three and then to the Big Apple for three against the Mets (and their very good starting pitching). Better defense, better pitching, better hitting...better baseball. See how easy?

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference