Worser and worser. The Milwaukee Brewers stumbled through another bad week, going 1-4 and dropping their disastrous August record to 5-15. They have fallen 4.5 games behind the Cubs, and into third place a half game back of the Cardinals. Oh, and they are now out of the Wild Card standings if the season ended last night.
The season didn’t end last night; there are still 37 games to play, so a recovery isn’t even remotely impossible. Until you look at how incredibly bad the Brewers’ pitching has been lately. I don’t want to, but if you would like to look, please check out this informative (as usual) piece from Nicholas Zettel on BP Milwaukee (If you like deep statistical analysis and good writing, and you aren’t paying attention to Nicholas’ stuff, you are missing out).
So let’s look at the week’s stories, as per usual:
TOP PITCHING STORY: Josh Hader didn’t pitch at all.
Honorable Mention: But hey! Jeremy Jeffress worked a scoreless inning. Yeah, three of the losses were by big margins, but one of them was a one-run game in the eighth, and one was a one-run loss. And Corey Knebel, in his struggle to return to form, made three appearances, gave up runs in all of them, and generally was hit hard. So we got that going for us. Which is nice.
TOP HITTING STORY: Milwaukee has continued to hit; they were out-scored just 28-26 on the week; that 7-0 win over the Cubs on Tuesday, in which they used up all of the good pitching, defense, and timely hitting feels like a while ago, doesn’t it? Anyways, Ryan Braun was going good until he was hurt in Wednesday’s game against Chicago trying to make a catch, and he’s in day-to-day purgatory again. Braunie slashed .333/.333/.917, OPS 1.250, with a double and two homers, driving in four. But there he is, reduced to one pinch-hitting appearance in the first two losses to the Cards. Those two homers in his first two at-bats against the Cubs on Tuesday were fun, though!
Honorable Mention: Jesus Aguilar is back to his good approach at the plate, last night notwithstanding. He is taking the ball to right again, and his two strike approach is back to his hot June and July. For the week Zeus had six RBI, drew four walks, and hit at a .438/.550/.688 clip to post an OPS of 1.238. He had a double and homer. While it feels like the Crew is just a timely hit away most of the time, scoring over 5 runs a game for a week just has to be good enough.
IMHO: During last night’s FS1 national broadcast, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal discussed how the Brewers’ slump could be lain at the feet of GM David Stearns for not acquiring an ace pitcher at the trade deadline. Yeah, Jacob deGrom would have been nice, but there weren’t any other “aces” out there, and deGrom wasn’t going anywhere. The two even agreed that there weren’t any pitchers that could have helped - Cole Hamels had a no-trade clause for the Brewers, and his performance had been iffy at best. Of course, putting on a Cub uni has turned him into Greg Maddux. (A certain BCB regular commenter has so far refrained from too much “I Told You So!” about Hamels. Such restraint!)
Rosenthal also said that one of the Brewer players pointed out that management didn’t show their support for the team by making a deal at the deadline. Not sure who that might have been, but perhaps they aren’t paying enough attention.
And they laid the blame for Jonathan Schoop’s poor start at the plate after his trade deadline acquisition from Baltimore on his having to come to the ballpark every day and check the lineup card to see if or where he was playing. Really? I suspect if he’d like to know he could ask the day before. And I suspect he’d be playing every day if he were hitting like July Schoop instead of like 2018 Eric Sogard.
No, folks, the Brewers added three good major league players at the deadline. Joakim Soria, a good veteran reliever, was added to give depth to the pen as the ranks of the starters were getting thinned due to injury. Now he is on the disabled list, and it’s injury and poor performance of a pitching staff that was one of the best in the National League pre-All Star break that are the reasons for the latest Milwaukee August swoon. I do wonder why Brandon Woodruff hasn’t been given a shot at helping to stabilize the rotation, but Verducci’s and Rosenthal’s comments were facile and shallow.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Jaymes drew the short straw and got to report on the news that Jimmy Nelson wouldn’t be returning this season - which, of course, wasn’t a real surprise to most. His addition at full or near-full health would have been huge, but the time-line never really appeared reasonable, and when his recovery plateaued earlier this season the writing was on the wall.
I think when all is said and done
Jimmy’s dive into first last September could end up being one of the most franchise-altering moments in Brewers history.
When I first read that, I felt it rather hyperbolic, but upon reflection it isn’t. There is no guarantee that Jimmy will EVER pitch as well as he was last season again. Sigh.
(I’ve been sighing a lot lately.)
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference