The Milwaukee Brewers had a real Jekyll and Hyde week, but end up still tied - or up a game - on the Cubs in the NL Central. (The Cubs are a permanent fixture on Sunday Night Baseball, so I never know what the standings are while I’m writing Sundries unless the Crew is playing the Wrigley Nine.)
Anyways, the Crew lost the first two games of the series with the Miami Marlins by a combined score of 24-3, and the games weren’t that close. Then they salvaged the finale of that series and swept the Pirates to go 4-2 on the week, outscoring the Fish and Bucs (there’s your surf and surf!) 25-10. Those were the two most earned losses in a long time for Milwaukee, as the Brewers were bad at hitting, pitching, fielding, and base running. I was even bad at watching, giving up in the middle of the Marlins’ 77 run fifth inning (don’t forget to divide by 7!) on Tuesday.
TOP PITCHING STORY: More good work from Adrian Houser this week. He worked in two of the four wins, going four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit with two walks. Nine strikeouts is Haderesque. Adrian is now a ‘winning’ reliever; if they get any more of them who will pitch from the ‘pen when they are behind? Besides Hernan Perez, that is. LBR tossed another perfect inning in the 16-0 loss.
Honorable Mention: Speaking of Haderesque...Josh Hader closely resembled himself in the last two games of the week against the Pirates. Two appearances, two innings, no hits, no runs, a walk, six strikeouts, and two saves. Yawn.
TOP HITTING STORY: It seems to me that Christian Yelich’s back is still bothering him. His swing is a little less fluid, and he’s swinging and missing a bit more than he was earlier in the season. This week it held him to a slash line of .600/.640/1.100 for an acceptable OPS of 1.740. Four doubles and two homers, four runs scored and four driven in. And two more steals for a league-leading 14 on the season. He is also the NL leader in homers — 24 now. His pace is for 59 homers. How many of those will come at Miller Park, you ask? 44! That would be some kind of record. Henry Aaron hit more than 44 homers just one time in a season in his career. (Did you know that Barry Bonds had an OPS of 1.042 in 2007, at age 42? He couldn’t find a job in 2008. Or ever again. Hmmmm...)
Oh yeah, and today was Yeli’s MVP bobblehead day. The Brewers could have sold 100,000 tickets for the game. Of course, he homered.
Honorable Mention: Mike Moustakas is having a rather nice season. This week his four homers all seemed big, including his game winner Sunday. His slash was .333/.385/.833 - OPS of 1.218. Satisfactory, Moose. Doing Moose things. For money.
IMHO: So in the last two weeks we’ve seen Keston Hiura returned to the minors despite being a really good hitter, replaced by Travis Shaw, who has struggled mightily this year. And we saw the Cubs sign Craig Kimbrel, arguably baseball’s top reliever, to anchor their ‘pen for the battle with the Brewers for the NL Central.
But you know what? I still expect the Brewers to battle the North Siders from Chicago right down to the end, just like last year. And I expect Hiura will be back soon one way or another, He will continue to be a big part of the Crew’s offense, and his defense will be OK. What will Kimbrel do for the Cubs? Not enough. I hope.
The Brewers’ offense is very deep; Orlando Arcia in the eight spot is actually a pretty big threat right now and we can all hope he simply maintains his production as is for the rest of the season. There is enough depth in the starting rotation that they can hopefully cobble together solid starts for the most part, especially when Jhoulys Chacin and Gio Gonzalez return from the IL. The bullpen seems to be rounding into shape — heck, even Alex Claudio has looked effective his last several outings.
Speaking of the bullpen, my latest harebrained idea is that once the rotation is set, Freddy Peralta should move into a late inning spot along side Hader. He is much the same pitcher, just from the right side, and as a one or two inning pitcher I’d expect his fastball to be consistently in the 95-96 mph range. That could be huge going into the playoffs. If they get there.
Wonder how Corey Knebel is doing? It’ll be like a great FA signing if he can come back next season.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Speaking of the starting rotation; continuing in his presentation of irrelevant, useless, but interesting facts, “Rick Auerbach invites you to 1972” helped us welcome Jimmy Nelson back to the big leagues after his (Jimmy’s, not Rick’s) Herculean effort to rehab his shoulder injury from September of 2017:
Jimmy doesn’t look ready yet, and it will be some time before he is close to his effectiveness level pre-injury. But Jimmy has faced a huge mountain to climb while fighting to get back (his injury doesn’t have a great success rate for a long-term return), and he and his wife dealt with a difficult delivery of their twins recently. Things are going well with the kids, and he is back pitching in the majors. I am extremely happy for him and I hope he can continue the comeback process to his satisfaction.
Another week with two off-days sees the Crew in Houston for two and then on to San Francisco for three. We get to see Justin Verlander for the ‘Stros in the second game at Minute Maid Park. My most vivid memory of Verlander is watching him start against the Brewers and dominate the first inning, at which point my wife wandered into the room and I told her that Verlander was going to pitch a no-hitter, and unfortunately (or not, I guess) I was right. I don’t think he can do that against this lineup. I hope that, anyways. School’s out! Enjoy, and drive carefully.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference