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Fans hoping that the All-Star break would be exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers needed to snap them out of their recent skid were left feeling sorely disappointed at the end of last night’s debacle. Following MLB’s annual four-day midsummer furlough, our beloved local nine began a series at Miller Park against the lowly San Francisco Giants and suffered one of the more demoralizing losses of the season. The offense battled back from a two-run deficit to retake a late lead, and with a 6-5 advantage, Craig Counsell turned the ball over to his All-Star closer to finish off the final six outs. But the typically unhittable Josh Hader coughed up two gopher balls, blowing the save as the Brewers eventually lost 10-7 in 10 innings.
The defeat left Milwaukee at only two games over .500 with a 47-45 record and felt like a continuation of the near month-long slide that the team endured leading up to the break. Starting after the team off-day on June 13th, the Brewers lost 15 of their final 23 contests, posting a collective team ERA of 4.93 while scoring only 3.74 runs per game. As the team has spiraled downward, so too has the average fan’s confidence in the direction the franchise is taking, according to results from the most recent SB Nation Fanpulse survey.
Fan confidence in the team’s direction polled at above 90% in 13 of the first weeks of the season, including 10 weeks of 98% or better approval. But a downward trend began in Week 14 before the confidence vote dropped down 17 points to a season-low 17% after the most recent round of voting. In reality, a good majority of voters still feel good about the job that David Stearns and company are doing at the helm, but a growing minority of dissenting voices has begun to form and become louder about their dissatisfaction with the way things are going for the team. Calls for the Brewers to become “sellers” are becoming more common on Twitter and in the comments sections here, especially after games like last night.
The quick fix, obviously, would be for the majority of the players on the team to start performing better. Only four of the 16 pitchers who have appeared in the last 30 days have posted ERAs under 4.00, and everyday players like Yasmani Grandal (98 wRC+), Mike Moustakas (83 wRC+), Lorenzo Cain (63 wRC+), and Orlando Arcia (48 wRC+) haven’t been getting the job done at the plate over the last 30. We have all seen what these players are capable of doing at the major league level and we can feel confident in saying that the roster is underperforming in terms of win-loss record and run differential. Worst-case outcomes for players like Travis Shaw and Corbin Burnes have been realized. We’ve gotten used to offensive inconsistency during the Stearns-era of Milwaukee baseball, but we have never seen such a poor level of run prevention during a season under the current regime.
The other thing that would surely restore fan confidence is for the team to start making aggressive moves on the trade market. Connections have been established to pitchers like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Will Smith, and we have profiled a number of other possible trade targets here at Brew Crew Ball. There has been no indication that the team is thinking about selling, with beat writer Adam McCalvy recently saying on the radio something to the effect of ‘it isn’t going to happen.’ Based on his history, Slingin’ Stearns is almost guaranteed to add some supplemental pieces to the roster before the July 31st trade deadline. As to what type of impact those additions will be counted on to make, we will have to wait and see.
The National League Central has been an absolute mess this year, and even with all their issues, Milwaukee enters play today only 1.5 games back of first place for the division. They have yet to go on their hot streak and help is surely on the way. But, how soon until this team hits their stride? And will it be too late?
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
How will the Milwaukee Brewers finish this season?
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