Talk about your small sample size! Only two real games to look at this week, but at least the Milwaukee Brewers snapped that seven game non-winning streak yesterday. And with the Cubs losing two of three since the break, the Crew has climbed back within 2.5 games of the Northsiders.
After losing out on the Manny Machado auction by not being willing to match what the LA Dodgers offered for the short term rental, the Brewers then faced the ex-Oriole’s new team at Miller Park. They also welcomed back Manny Pina and Ryan Braun from the disabled list, and rumor has it that Zach Davies might be getting closer to his return. A Davies return will necessitate some serious thinking on the Milwaukee rotation.
TOP HITTING STORY: Christian Yelich punctuated a very good week at the plate by taking Clayton Kershaw deep in yesterday’s game, propelling Milwaukee to their first win in nearly two weeks. If you include Yeli’s All-Star game performance, he had a single, two doubles, a triple, and two homers in twelve at-bats, with five RBI. In his two games that count, he faced tough lefties Rich Hill and Kershaw and hit the ball hard almost every time up. It’s been said many times by many observers - the deal for Yelich seemed like a lot at the time, but David Stearns’ desire to add the outfielder to the lineup seems smarter every day. He has capably played all three outfield spots and produced in the top three spots in the order on a regular basis.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun missed the entire seven-game losing streak on the DL, and scored twice (with a double) in his return yesterday. Perhaps he’s more important to the success of the team than was thought...
TOP PITCHING STORY: It would be difficult to remove Corbin Burnes from the major league staff at this point. With the game in the balance yesterday (bases loaded, nobody out) Burnes saved the team’s bacon by channeling his inner Jeremy Jeffress and escaping the fifth with no runs scored by LA. He earned his first major league win, and has looked poised in all three of his major league appearances, allowing no runs in six innings and just two hits.
Honorable Mention: Josh Hader looked like the dominant first half pitcher that he was for the first time in a while, contributing two scoreless innings to the win with four strikeouts. If the Brewers are going to challenge the Cubs for the NL Central crown, they will need all of their bullpen to step back up. It would be nice to see a clean appearance from Corey Knebel, wouldn’t it?
IMHO: The Brewers sent five players to the All-Star game and led the division for much of the year, but the losing streak at the end of the “first half”, and the off-field issues that arose during the All-Star game itself, present the team - from top management down - with a real challenge over the next several weeks. How they respond will define the legacy of this group.
Playing games again has got to be a relief to all of them. Winning one even more so. And of course, the Cubs losing two of three came against the Cardinals, and St. Louis has moved withing five games of the Brewers. And I guess it’s important to note that Milwaukee still holds a Wild Card spot. But a division win feels crucial, doesn’t it?
Oh yeah - I really wanted Manny Machado for the last third of the season in the Brewers’ lineup, but the Dodgers paid more than I was willing for Milwaukee to give up. Watch BCB for ideas to pass along to David Stearns on who to acquire, like here and here.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Not getting Machado chafed a few (besides me) and some were vocal in their condemnation of the franchise for not adding to their offer to out-bid the Dodgers, but the general consensus was summed up by AKBrewfan, who can see things clearly from his far perspective:
That’s about the max I would have been ok with trading for Machado.
Good job, Stearns!
This season, Jonathan Villar will step back up from JV to Varsity.
The Brewers actually can win this series with the Dodgers today, even though it felt like they’d never win again just yesterday. Then they welcome a Washington Nationals team that is facing issues of their own as they look to reclaim the top spot in the NL East. After that, one of those dreaded west coast trips begins with four in San Francisco. Next weeks’ Sundries could be giddy with success or right back to woe-is-me. Or somewhere in between.
Take a deep breath, fellow Brewer fans.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference