A 4-2 week combined with a slumping Cubs’ (swept by the Cards) squad has your Milwaukee Brewers back on top of the uber-competetive NL Central by 1.5 games. As it should be. It wasn’t a clean week. 39 runs scored is nice, but they allowed 35. Jhoulys Chacin was shelled and is now on the IL. Brandon Woodruff was unable to protect a 5-0 lead in the 3rd inning. The Crew committed 7 errors on the week, with 3 by Keston Hiura and 2 catcher’s interference calls on the recently-returned Manny Pina. But clean or not, it was 4-2 on the road against a very good Twins team and recent nemesis Pittsburgh. Good enough.
Some interesting notes — the Brewers lead the NL with 105 homers. That projects to 283 dingers on the season, which would be a major league record. Except that the Twins will probably hit 300. That’s just crazy. Oh yeah — wins aren’t a good stat for evaluating pitchers, but the Zach and Woody show is now 13-1. Just think if Jimmy Nelson can round into form — that would be a nice three-man rotation in the playoffs.
TOP HITTING STORY: Orlando Arcia is maintaining his new-found successful approach at the plate, and it seems possible that we may be seeing a solid hitting, good fielding shortstop in Milwaukee for the next decade. Or not. Anyways, Lando slashed .348/.423/.783 - that’s an OPS of 1.206. His three home runs included his first two-homer game, and that included a 13th inning game-winner against the Bucs on Saturday. Arcia scored 8 times on the week and drove in 7. Nicely done.
Honorable Mention: Arcia’s keystone partner, Keston Hiura, looks like he might also be around for at least a decade...except for that new contract thing. He set up Arcia’s game winner by ripping a 9th inning, game tying two run shot off of Pirates’ closer Felipe Vazquez. Vazquez had converted 55 of 56 save opportunities going back to last year. Hiura also had 3 long balls on the week, and also drove in 7. His OPS was 1.090. I will be astounded if the Brewers elect to send him back to AAA to make room for Travis Shaw. That would be a travesty. A miscarriage of justice. Indefensible.
TOP PITCHING STORY: I mentioned Zach Davies earlier. Zach had two starts on the week and took his second one on Sunday into the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead. The Brewers hung on for that one, and Zach worked 14 innings to a 1.29 ERA for the two appearances. Maybe more importantly, for the second time this season he started on a Sunday the day after an extended Saturday game that ate up the Milwaukee pen, and for the second time he saved said pen by going eight innings. He is a really good pitcher; he knows how to work hitters and get quick outs. And he knows how to wriggle out of having runners in scoring position behind him.
BTW, Zach has tied the club record with six straight winning decisions to start the season.
Honorable Mention: When you give up 35 runs in 6 games, there aren’t a lot of shining moments. In a bullpen that is searching for some solid outings, Matt Albers is starting to settle in and look like the guy that excelled in the pen early last season, before he got hurt. Albers worked three scoreless innings in two appearances, and allowed no hits. He did walk two, but there are times he won’t give in when he doesn’t have to. It would be a big help if he could be consistent.
IMHO: Speaking of the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel is going to sign with somebody this week. Probably. I mean, he kinda has to, right? Recent rumors have the Cubs with serious interest.
That would be unfortunate. The Brewers and Cubs could be within a few games of each other the rest of the season. You have to concede the NL’s best record to LA (probably), but Chicago and Milwaukee could very well come down to the last day once again, fighting for a division title vs. a wild card slot. And that difference could be huge.
But keeping the Cubs from shoring up a weak back-end of their pen isn’t the best reason to go after Kimbrel. Even more importantly, this is another window that looks like an opportunity for a championship. The offense is good to very good, and there are bats yet to awaken. The defense has been generally solid. There are enough starting pitchers to cobble together a solid rotation. But the depth of quality arms in the pen is nowhere near last season, and that could really come back to bite the Brewers. Craig Kimbrel is a Hall of Fame reliever and would make a huge difference in the make-up of this team.
You just never know when these opportunities will come again. If ever.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: So Jimmy Nelson is going to start his first game since September of 2017 for the Milwaukee Brewers this Wednesday night, against the Miami (nee Florida) Marlins. metalmilitia844 points out one interesting fact:
Also, In a bit of other coincidence
Nelson’s MLB debut came against Miami. Strange how things sometimes come full circle.
Another coincidence is that Wednesday will be Jimmy’s 30th birthday. Fun fact — I happen to be going to the game Wednesday night. I’m trying to temper my expectations. After all, Jimmy hasn’t exactly been dominant in his rehab starts. But I can’t help it...I’m pumped.
After three against Miami, the Crew gets a rematch against the Pirates with a three-game weekend set. Might even see some roof open games! With 16 of the next 24 games at Miller Park, it’s time to make hay and extend that lead over the Cubs, Cards, and Bucs.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference