The Milwaukee Brewers lost two of three to Cincinnati to begin the week, took two thrillers from the Cubs to start that series, and then were thumped in Sunday’s finale to end up at 3-3, trailing the Cubs and Cards by a game in the NL Central. Man, it’s hard to see them maintaining their contention, though. They were outscored 40-28 on the week. Ouch.
TOP HITTING STORY: Keston Hiura’s numbers this week aren’t as good as last, but his performance on Saturday night cements his spot at the top. An eighth inning double to tie the game, ultimately sending it into extras so that he could walk off the Cubs with a two run shot in the tenth. Doesn’t get any better than that.
His slash line was .278/.409/.611, OPS 1.020. He had a double and two homers, scoring four times while driving in four. There were the eight Ks (meaning he hit .500 on balls in play), but he had four walks. Is it possible that he’s tall enough to play first?
Honorable Mention: Yasmani Grandal has lost his power stroke; no homers since July 6th, leaving him stuck at 19. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing. He had an on-base percentage of .476 on the week, and his OPS was OK at .851. See that, teams that need a catcher? Oh, and folks say that he frames pitches really well, too!
TOP PITCHING STORY: As one JJ (Jeremy Jeffress) struggles in the pen, one of the shuttle riders from San Antonio (Jay Jackson - the OTHER JJ) is showing signs of effectiveness. My, how my standards have been lowered. But really, Jay had a really good week. He worked four innings over two games, giving up no hits and just one walk, no runs, and eight strikeouts. Do I expect this to continue? Well, no, but his slider looked really tough.
Honorable Mention: Ho hum. Two games for Josh Hader, four innings with three hits but no walks allowed, and no runs either. Nine Ks, two saves. Just another dominant week. And a "Hey!" to Grampa Hader!
(Oh yeah, Freddy Peralta looks like a nice bookend to Hader in the closer’s role.)
IMHO: Don’t do it, Slinger! Don’t mortgage the future for a small chance to make the playoffs, and almost no chance to go deep into them if you do. Yes, it’s possible that the rest of the NL plays badly enought that the Brewers could sneak in with 84 wins, but I doubt it. And I doubt that the Brewers will get to 84 wins. Those two come-back wins this week over the Cubs were fantastic, but they are a false positive. Sunday’s game is a truer barometric reading of the State of Baseball in Milwaukee.
Look, I’m as big a fan as the next person. But the Brewers are down to two viable starters, and Zach Davies is looking rather bad lately (over his last two starts he’s worked nine innings and allowed thirteen earned runs and four homers). Chase Anderson is actually pretty good for Chase. But Brandon Woodruff is out a minimum six weeks, and Jhoulys Chacin up to four, and who knows whether Gio Gonzalez will make his next start after leaving with shoulder tightness in his last outing. Or how he’ll be able to pitch if he does. Internal alternatives aren’t inspiring, and adding one middling starter at the expense of anything in the system feels like a desperate, bad move.
Work it through with Junior Guerra, Aaron Wilkerson, heck, even Trey Supak. Adrian Houser, if Gio can’t go. Just don’t throw anything away that could help the team in the 2020 or 2021 seasons. Please.
I’d rather they throw money at free agent starters this off season than give up playable assets. And even though those assets are not highly regarded, it’s a cheaper and generally safer way to work on the pitching staff than weakening the team elsewhere. Top free agent starters are Gerrit Cole, Madison Baumgarner, Zack Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg (opt out), Rick Porcello, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Wood, and some other, not so well regarded options.
So do they stand pat through Wednesday? I hope not. There’s a chance that Mike Moustakas could come back at third base next season; Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson look to be well ahead of him as FA third basemen. Yasmani Grandal is not coming back. There is no competition for him at catcher among other FAs at the position, and he’s going to get a lucrative multi-year deal now that there is no draft compensation for him. The Brewers should send him to a contending team that needs help behind the plate. They can get back whichever catcher makes sense from said team (whoever they get can back up Manny Pina, or split time with him, for the rest of the season and next), along with a solid prospect. That will help the team next season; keeping Yas through the rest of this year will not help them next year.
Milwaukee is in a tough spot. Not moving to bolster the rotation will look bad to the casual fan, and some of the serious fans. But you can’t run your team that way. You have to take a realistic view of your situation. Hey, if the guys on the roster can get hot and make the playoffs, great! Maybe they can hit their way in. I’m not counting on it. Rooting for it, but I’d be really surprised.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: It would appear that Kyle disagrees with me about the trade deadline. Shocker! He thinks that it’s imperative to add to the rotation; you never know what you can do once you get to the play-offs.
Sorry, Kyle...Teodoro.III agrees with me (or I agree with him):
Hmmm..... A team with, at best 2 or 3 “decent” SP’s
What to do?
1) Deplenish a not overly strong farm system even further to pick up a mediocre at best SP in a trade (and most likely a rental at that)
2) Accept the fact that misjudgments in roster construction (esp with pitching staff), compounded by multiple injuries, has pretty much sunk our hopes of doing much in the playoffs (or even getting in)
and just do the best that can be done with what we have,
with an eye towards improving the roster next year for a big run.
And, if we manage to do something in the playoffs … that’s a great bonus
Unless we can get a pretty decent SP with some period of team control beyond this year for a really low price….
I don’t see a trade as being a very good idea.
So...three days to wait and see what the Brewers will do. I’ll expect a win every game but I’m not going to look at who’s starting. Monday off, then three in Oakland before coming back to the midwest for three more big games against the Cubs, this time all day games over the weekend at Wrigley. Late night games Tuesday and Wednesday before an afternoon affair Thursday on getaway day (thanks, A’s!).
And I’ve so been wanting to see a Brewers’ World Championship in my lifetime.