Our Milwaukee Brewers took a 57-53 record into Wrigley Field this weekend tied with for second place with the Cubs, with a chance to climb past both the Baby Bears and Cardinals and back into first place in the NL Central. They leave with the same number of wins but three more losses, falling four back of Chicago and behind the Cards by either 2.5 or 3.5.
So, a 1-5 week when a turnaround was needed. It was a turnaround, I guess, just in the wrong direction. Fourteen runs in six games won’t win many of them. They allowed 27, which isn’t great, but isn’t awful. The offense was the culprit this week, and it’s hard to see any silver linings from here. Did you know that Milwaukee hasn’t scored multiple runs in an inning since the fifth inning a week ago?
TOP HITTING STORY: Trent Grisham’s phenomenal run at AAA San Antonio was rewarded with a call-up this week, and he drove in the potential winning run on Wednesday with a sac fly. (Unfortunately, that lead over the A’s was coughed up late.) After an 0-1 pinch-hitting day Saturday, Trent slid into the leadoff spot Sunday and had his first hit, and later his first homer, during a three-hit outing. In a rather SSS, that’s an OPS of 1.083.
I’m excited for Trent, and I’m happy that the Brewers are willing to bring up a 22 year old when it looks like he might help a struggling offense. Whether he can help Keston Hiura and Christian Yelich resuscitate the bats or not remains to be seen, but he will remain up and get some starts in Pittsburgh next week, according to Craig Counsell in postgame comments.
Honorable Mention: We can add Ryan Braun to those who can contribute to the offense. The Deputy* had a .333/.333/.611 slash for an OPS of .944, with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI. Of course, Braun could be the regular who doesn’t play when Grisham starts.
*Ryan was dubbed ‘The Deputy’ in honor of Doug Melvin’s response to player movement advice from his star (I believe in 2009): “I’ll give him a badge and he can be my deputy.” It was perhaps not said in fun. Doug was not amused.
TOP PITCHING STORY: David Stearns added two pitchers to the major league roster during deadline week, bringing in returnee Jordan Lyles and lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz. Lyles went five innings in his first start, and Pomeranz worked an inning in relief. In six innings they combined to allow just one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. (The other pitchers that came back in the trades, Ray Black and Jacob Faria, went to the Missions. If Black can harness his 100 mph fastball we could see him this season.) Early returns on the soft reshaping of the pitching staff are positive!
Honorable Mention: Chase Anderson is the Crew’s best starting pitcher right now. In his one start this week he worked six innings, giving up just two hits and one run. Milwaukee will need this to continue if there is any hope for a revival of the playoff hopes of this Brewer iteration. And an offensive revival, too, of course.
IMHO: Gone in those trades are 2018 All-Star Jesus Aguilar and top infield prospect Mauricio Dubon. We all wish both of them success in their new opportunities.
Things: Zeus is one of a long line of players that underperformed for the Crew this year, contributing greatly to the (so far) disappointing 2019. Original first out-getters Jhoulys Chacin, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta were, um, very bad. Chacin is now injured, Burnes is in AAA, and Freddy has had a bit of success as a reliever. Jimmy Nelson hasn’t looked close to the same as before his shoulder injury in 2017, and is back to rehabbing in AAA. Corey Knebel underwent Tommy John surgery early in the spring. Jeremy Jeffress neglected to keep his arm in shape in the off season and returned almost a month into the year. He hasn’t regained his form from last season. Orlando Arcia hasn’t taken the next step offensively, and his defensive lapses convinced the Brewers that Tyler Saladino would be a better option at short. (Except for grand slams in back to back games, Salad did nothing, and is now back in AAA.) The trade of Dubon leaves shortstop as a question mark going into next year.
After very good starts, Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal (the two big offseason signings) have cooled off considerably. Lorenzo Cain has battled regression and a bad thumb to hit poorly, although his defense has been sublime. Travis Shaw has been epically awful. Boy, as I re-read this it’s hard to figure out how the Brewers are a game over .500.
I’m sure I’ve missed some, but now I’m depressed.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Speaking of Ray Black, David Gibson gave us a very nice insight into the potential of this power pitching addition. MrLeam works hard to not be taken seriously, but if he keeps giving us intelligent insights like this his cover will be blown:
I think it slightly depends
By mistake was listening to a baseball podcast this morning where they were talking about Shane Baz and how he adjusted to the analytics driven approach of the Rays as opposed to what had happened when he was at the Pirates. Tampa Bay basically explained straightaway that they’d chosen him as the PTBNL in the Archer deal because he had a quick fastball and really high spin rates, but the issue was that data showed he was trying to paint the corners. They’ve basically told him not to be as obsessed with hitting the corners, because hitters aren’t good enough to make contact even if his pitches are a bit off.
Of course, the Brewers thinking around Black could be entirely different, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they had a similar theory around Black…
So if the Brewers can straighten out Ray Black, and Corey Knebel can get back next year, Josh Hader can maintain, Drew Pomeranz can stay and pitch well out of the pen, and...well, you caught me, I’m looking ahead to 2020 already.
Anyways, the Brewers move on to Pittsburgh for three games before an off-day Thursday, then return to Miller Park for three against the Texas Rangers. Sunday is Josh Hader Bobblehead Day. I wonder how the attendance will be for that.
The Pirates have been as bad as the Brewers lately. This should be a blast.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference