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Hopefully, the Milwaukee Brewers hit their rock bottom point for the 2019 season last week, and everything will continue trending upwards from here. After losing to the Braves last week Monday, the club sunk to a season-worst one game over the .500 mark at 48-47. And as the team hit their lowest point of the year, so too did fan confidence in the direction that things are headed for the franchise.
In the our last SB Nation FanPulse voting update, fan confidence had dropped 17 points from the previous week down to 73%. According to an informal poll that I attached to that post, 70% of the 796 respondents felt that the Brewers would miss the playoffs altogether in 2019 based upon how things were headed at that time. Apparently, things only got worse last week in the collective mind of you, the fan, as the team continued their month-long slide:
Week 13: 98% confidence
Week 14: 94%
Week 15: 90%
Week 16: 73%
Week 17: 45%
Fortunately the team has started to trend up in recent days, and hopefully that trend will extend to fan confidence, as well. Milwaukee has won five of their last six ballgames to right the ship and get their record back up to five games over the .500 mark at 53-48. The Cream City Nine will enter play today just two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the top spot in the National League Central, and they are still holding on to the second Wild Card slot a half-game back of the Nationals.
The Brewers have gotten back on track at a good time. The July 31st deadline is a little over a week away, giving David Stearns and company plenty of time to seek out additional players to add to the fold from the trade market. Even with the team’s month-long struggle from mid-June through mid-July, and the apparent belief that they are not headed for a postseason berth, a vast majority of SBN FanPulse voters still believe that Slingin’ Stearns and the Brewers should be “buyers” at this year’s trading deadline.
Over the weekend, we covered the prospect ammunition that Stearns will have to work with as he attempts to upgrade his roster before the end of the month. The Brewers likely have enough depth in their system to work out one significant move, if they so choose, but based on Stearns’ history during the summer trade season, a number of smaller moves are more likely. The Brewers could use one more lock-down arm in the bullpen to aid Josh Hader in the late innings, and perhaps a more potent bat capable of manning the shortstop position. Now, though, the greatest need appears to be in the starting rotation.
Milwaukee’s group of initial out-getters welcomed Gio Gonzalez back over the weekend, but his return was negated — and then some — by the loss of Brandon Woodruff’s during Sunday’s series finale in Arizona. Woody left his start in the fourth inning with what was later diagnosed as an oblique strain and it was reported that he’ll hit the Injured List and head for an MRI to determine the severity. Exactly how long Woodruff will be on the shelf is unknown, but these injuries seem to have a habit of taking some 4-6 weeks to heal. The right-handed hurler looked like a burgeoning ace for the club this season, and him missing multiple starts will be a huge blow to a rotation that ranks 12th in the National League this year with a collective 4.73 ERA.
None of Milwaukee’s internal options for Woodruff’s spot inspire much confidence going forward (Freddy Peralta 7.07 ERA as SP, Adrian Houser 7.83 ERA as SP), and in addition, Jhoulys Chacin (5.67 ERA in 85.2 IP) has only a tenuous hold on his spot in the starting five. The Brewers looked like they needed another starter heading into the weekend; now the case could be made that they ought to be seeking a pair of initial out-getters on this year’s trade market.
Will Woodruff’s injury change the course of the team’s season? Without arguably their best starter for what could be a lengthy period of time, will Stearns still be looking to add to his roster more aggressively? Or with all the pitching problems, might he become more inclined to listen to offers on departing free agents like Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas? As the head baseball exec has said many times over now, the team’s play on the field will determine the direction he takes in the coming days. If the Brewers continue their recent winning ways, count on them adding at least a player or two to the roster before the month of August hits.
Statisics courtesy of Fangraphs