More solid baseball on the week (5-2, 16-7 in May) finds the Milwaukee Brewers (33-20) atop the NL Central standings with a four-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs are 4.5 games back, but haven’t really started to try yet. At least not if you ask their fans, or the Chicago media, or the national press.
Milwaukee scored one total run in their two losses, including getting shut out for the ninth time this season (out of twenty losses - a remarkable number). They scored 26 runs in two of their wins. Do NOT look for consistency in baseball small sample sizes.
Before we discuss our hitting and pitching heroes for the week, let’s pause for a moment to note that the Brewers allowed ZERO unearned runs this week. They committed an error last Sunday in their 3-1 loss to the Twins, and then played errorless ball the rest of the week.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Nobody jumped out at me, although Chase Anderson’s start yesterday was pretty bad. So I’m going to look at a comparison between the rotation and the bullpen on the week. No surprises here:
The moral of the story is that opponents need to beat the Brewers in innings 1-5 (or shut them out, that has worked too). The pen is just too tough. And when it isn’t, as was the case Friday night, they are 4-1 in extra innings, too!
And this wasn’t even a particularly good week from the pen. As long as they aren’t giving up homers they’ll be fine.
TOP HITTING STORY: Travis Shaw was right in the middle of all kinds of stuff for the Brewers this week, from driving in key runs to making errors on the base paths. But his five runs scored and nine RBI jump out at you, as do his two doubles and three home runs. One of his five walks was of the walk-off variety, driving in the winning run Friday night. Travis’ OPS of 1.380 will play, and he couldn’t have led up to his bobble head day for The Mayor of Ding Dong City any better. Did you know that this nickname was first revealed to us at the nickname jersey game last season? Just ask Rock...I don’t think he reads BCB. His loss.
Honorable Mention: Lots of other contributors, but Lorenzo Cain at the top of the order has been phenomenal all year, and last week was no exception. He slashed .417/.481/.583, OPS of 1.065, scoring six times and driving in three. He had just one double and one homer, but things happen when LoCain gets on base.
IMHO: Perhaps it is time to accept that David Stearns has a pretty good idea what he is doing in running this club, and we should look closely at his moves to figure out the motivations and goals that they represent. This week saw several eye-openers, from optioning Orlando Arcia to AAA for work on his hitting approach - replacing him with the struggling Eric Sogard (and giving Tyler Saladino the regular shortstop position on a temporary basis) to designating Jett Bandy for assignment after almost a full season’s worth of struggles at the plate, going back to last season.
Bandy’s replacement, Erik Kratz from the Yankee’s organization, contributed immediately with a home run, single, and two other well struck balls for outs. Four hard hit baseballs was a month’s worth for Bandy. (Obligatory Small Sample Size warning inserted here.)
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: In following up my humble opinion, I’ll grab something that agrees with me. In discussing the optioning of Arcia and the recall of Eric Sogard (and the replacing of Jett Bandy), BrewCrewJosh captures the goals of the organization:
Much needed changes
We were as patient as could have been with arcia, hopefully he can figure it out in AAA and bounce back to contribute again.
We are competing for a division title in a tight race and that means we have to address our weaknesses as they come up, and arcia and bandy were the two biggest weaknesses by far.
The Brewers finish up with the Mets today with a chance to take another series, then welcome in the Cardinals for three with a chance to put a little more distance between the two squads. After a needed off day Thursday, the Crew travels to Chicago for three with the White Sox. We’ll find out if it is playing in Chicago that is an issue, or maybe it’s just Wrigley Field, or just the Cubs. Anyway, tomorrow is Memorial Day, after which it is OK to start looking at the standings, according to the unwritten rules. Really! I checked with Tony La Russa.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday, and be sure to enjoy the multiple renditions of “God Bless America”.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference