Welp. 3-3 weeks usually don’t do you much good, but in this case it moved the Milwaukee Brewers back into a first place tie with the Chicago Cubs. It’s starting to look like the NL Central could finish in a five way tie for first, with all the teams at 81-81. I’ll leave it to each of you to figure out the playoff scenario for that.
Let’s see, what else happened this week...
- Travis Shaw was optioned to AAA to work on his hitting, or, lack thereof. I talked enough about Travis last week. I will allow that I approved of this move.
- Keston Hiura took Shaw’s roster spot. He will hit.
- Jimmy Nelson went on the IL with elbow issues. This allows the Brewers to get an actual pitcher on the roster (another move I approve of; see last week). That pitcher was underachieving Corbin Burnes, but I have great faith in the ultimate effectiveness of Burnes. Once he’s deemed ready, this also allows Nelson to do a rehab minor league assignment without optioning him.
- In my least favorite move of the week, the Crew designated Hernan Perez for assignment. I don’t get it, but I’m not close enough to the team to know the why’s and wherefore’s of this. LBR has been a solid utility man for parts of five seasons and seems to be a strong clubhouse presence. My hope is that he won’t get claimed or traded, and accepts a minor league assignment. As of yet no news of a trade or claim has been communicated to us. He was replaced on the 40 man, and the current roster, by Tyler Saladino. More on him later.
- Orlando Arcia was benched for two games post-roster moves, replaced by Saladino. Craig Counsell said that this was due to poor defensive play from Lando, and Jaymes details the truth in that for us.
- Brent Suter and Corey Knebel were with the team this weekend. Suter seems to be close to starting to throw for real, while Knebel won’t be back until next season.
- Christian Yelich won election to the NL All Stars, and he will be joined by Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal as run-producer subs, as well as Josh Hader as an out-getter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brandon Woodruff added when the inevitable pitchers drop out due to starts close to the actual All Star game. Big Woo will start Thursday to close out the upcoming series against the Reds.
Then there’s the games they played. Milwaukee lost two of three interleague games against Seattle, then the first of three against the Pirates before closing with wins Saturday and Sunday. They scored 3, 2, 4, 2, 3, and 2 runs for 16 total, against 19 given up. My advice is to score more runs.
TOP HITTING STORY: Eric Thames was really the only Brewer that hit with authority this week. Thames closed out June with a .429/.438/1.214 weekly slash, an OPS of 1.652. He had three doubles, a triple, and two homers (including the game-winner Sunday in the bottom of the eighth). He didn’t get the weekly cycle though, as he had no singles. Oh well. He drove in 25% of the Brewers’ runs on the week. Thames has a team option of $7.5 mil next year. At this point it could very well be exercised. With all seven remaining games against the Reds and Pirates he should have 15 homers by the break.
(Dis)honorable Mention: I’d really prefer one of two different players than Tyler Saladino up with the Brewers. Saladino started two games and pinch-hit in the third he was up for, getting nothing in his seven at bats except three strikeouts. He did play some good shortstop, but he isn’t a better defender than Arcia. Maybe someday we’ll hear the whole story about this move (Saladino for Perez).
TOP PITCHING STORY: Matt Albers is looking like start-of-2018 Albers. He has added a changeup, and he is locating it well enough to keep hitters off balance. His fastball has regained it’s movement (well, perhaps not all by itself - Matt might deserve some credit for that), and both of those pitches being effective makes the slider more dangerous. For the week Albers appeared in four games, working three innings and allowing just two hits with no walks, no runs, and three K’s. He also got his first save of the seasons Sunday.
Honorable Mention: Freddy Peralta is proving valuable in middle relief. Two appearances totalled 5.2 shutout innings, with two walks and six strikeouts. He could work later in games as a key piece, but with the uncertainty in the rotation at present he’ll probably be needed for more multi-inning jobs in the middle innings.
IMHO: Jeesh, I’ve given way too many opinons already. Being tied for first is nice, but given the performance of the rest of the division you feel like the Brewers should have a five game lead. The hitting will come around, but with it becoming apparent that Jimmy Nelson won’t provide quality work this season, the set-back for Gio Gonzalez, the general mediocrity (or worse) of Jhoulys Chacin, unsteady starts by Zach Davies, and the 5th starter-level work of Chase Anderson, well, some help is needed sooner rather than later. You can’t expect the Cubs to continue to lose, and if they do you want to put some distance between yourself and the rest of the division. I’d prefer a rental, that only required prospects not named Hiura (who is now a major league regular, anyways). I’ll leave it to people smarter than me to decide who that might be (and there are LOTS of you out there!). As long as he isn’t a Bum.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: If nothing else, combining the Perez DFA with the call-up of Hiura took some of the attention off of Keston. It certainly generated more discussion than the Shaw/Hiura do-se-do; aka Mitch had a reasonable take:
It feels like Hernan has been around forever
Like you said, he did whatever was needed and I think the team was genuinely better from his presence. He seemingly has been an important part of that clubhouse vibe. A sub .200 average can only carry a guy so far though. If Saladino can be a better Hernan than Hernan was I’ll take it.
Hopefully he sticks with the clubs and fixes some things. Can never have too many Hernan’s come September.
So far, so bad, except for Hernan not officially being gone yet.
So, on the road for seven more against the NL Central prior to the All Star break. Four in Cincy, and then the Crew finishes up in Pittsburgh for three. Just like last year, except it isn’t five games. And for goodness sakes, let’s win at least ONE this time around.
Enjoy your week! I hope Yeli’s bat wakes up!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference