Good and bad this week. The Milwaukee Brewers had only five games, with two days off, and all of the contests at Miller Park. They split two with the Reds and lost the first two against the Phillies before a Sunday win, leaving the Crew at 2-3 on the week. That puts the Milwaukee IX two games behind the Cubs and in the top Wild Card spot by a half game.
The Brewers were outscored just 27-26 on the week, but 20 of those runs came in the two victories. Only 6 in the three losses. A Philadelphia bullpen that shut the Brewers down on Friday imploded on Sunday. It happens.
TOP PITCHING PERFORMANCE: Hmmm...did any of the starting pitchers do anything good this week? Yes! Brandon Woodruff, c’mon down! Woody only started one game (that happens in a five game week), which happened to be today. In 8 innings he allowed one baserunner, and to be efficient Woody just let backup catcher Andrew Knapp trot around the bases with a leadoff homer in the sixth. And it was a one-handed swing on a changeup that fooled him, carrying out to the short porch in right. Not that I’m complaining about that porch, mind you. Anyways, nobody else reached base. Andrew McCutchen came close on his leadoff routine groundball to second. When Hernan Perez bobbled the ball, it looked like Cutch would reach base, but he had slowed to a trot and by the time LBR recovered and threw to first he was done.
Woodruff struck out ten while never pitching from the stretch, and he struck a Phillie for the last out in all eight of his innings. (For symmetry, Matt Albers fanned the final Phil in the ninth, too.) There was very little luck involved in this outing. Woody was simply dominant.
Honorable Mention: I don’t want to take Josh Hader for granted. The Brewers only needed a closer one time this week, with only two wins and one of them the 9-1 win today. The other was Wednesday’s top pitching matchup of two of the top three ERA pitchers in the National League (Zach Davies for the Crew, Luis Castillo for the Redlegs). Neither of them were top two by the end of the day. After Milwaukee bounced back from 5-0 and 6-1 deficits to lead 11-8, the Reds scored once in the seventh and had two on with one down in the eighth when Craig Counsell called on Hader for a five out save. No baserunners through the ninth, with two K’s, and Milwaukee had their 11-9 win. That is CLOSING a game.
TOP HITTING STORY: Yasmani Grandal has been everything we hoped for when he was signed to his one year deal in the off-season. Well, I hoped for better defense, but Eric Kratz and Manny Pina have spoiled us. Anyhoo, Yaz slashed .308/.550/.846 on the week, and that’s an OPS of 1.396. In the five games he scored 3 times, drove in 5, and had a double and 2 homers. PLUS, he had 7 (SEVEN) walks in the five games. He has also started every game since Manny Pina went on the IL. Jacob Nottingham has done some mop-up work in blowouts and pinch-hit a few times, but Counsell wasn’t kidding when he said that the Brewers would ride Grandal hard with Pina out.
Honorable Mention: Why not? Brandon Woodruff owned Sunday’s game. He was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI. He’s now hitting .370 and slugging .874 on the season. As a non-hitter, he’s 7-1 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. I’m not sure what that last sentence has to do with hitting, but it does show his versatility.
IMHO: Jimmy Nelson is getting close. JP described the roster move that removed the erstwhile Brewer ace from the IL but optioned him the AAA San Antonio, rather than bringing him up to the big club. Jimmy was reportedly puzzled, or upset (I doubt it), but it’s the right move. He hasn’t shown it yet for the Missions. He has allowed just 15 hits in 19 innings, but he has walked 9 and allowed 3 homers. He has struck out 22, which is nice, but he has also hit 3 batters (gotta keep those AAA hitters on their toes). If you include those hit batters, his WHIP (HBWHIP?) is at 1.42. He can build up his arm durability for a while longer, and once he has a couple of good starts in a row the team will be ready to welcome him back.
What to do with the rotation at that point will be interesting. Perhaps they could piggyback Jimmy with either Jhoulys Chacin or Chase Anderson for a few starts. Or ease Nelson in with a six-man rotation for a bit; never hurts to protect those arms. It will be a good problem to have.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: What to do with Travis Shaw? He has started his rehab stint with the Missions. He’s now 1 for 13, with that lone hit a single. And he’s fanned five times.
My guess is Hiura is sent down
No way they’re giving up on Shaw just yet. Hiura has been decent so far but nothing spectacular. He really seems to struggle with runners on base
”Nothing spectacular” is already quite a bit better than what Shaw has offered pretty much all season. He’s done well enough to stay up thus far but very SSS ofc so we will see how he is doing overall once Shaw’s assignment is over
I’m hoping that Keston Hiura is up for good. What that means for Shaw (or somebody else) I don’t know. I really hope Travis can bounce back and make this a very tough decision for Milwaukee, but this is quite the extended slump. Glad this decision isn’t my job.
So a busier week upcoming with six games. The first two are against the Mighty Twins. No, really, they ARE mighty. They are 20 games over .500 and are the fastest team in history to 100 homers in a season. Yikes.
Then it’s on to Pittsburgh to meet the Dreaded Pirate Roberts...er, I guess it’s just the Pirates. I’d sure like to see the Brewers get back to the days the Bucs were Milwaukee’s country cousins, instead of the reverse.
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference