We may be without baseball on TV right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play the Brewers’ 50th anniversary season anyway. Thanks to Out of the Park Baseball 21 — the latest installment of the best baseball sim out there — we’ll be bringing you the “results” of the last week of Brewers games every Thursday.
If you don’t remember, we left off with our Virtual Brewers already in their first slump of the year, winless on their first road trip of the season and losers of 6 straight games.
Our local virtual nine were hoping to bounce back against a Mets team that has also struggled to start the year, coming into this 4-game series at 3-7, losers of 4 straight and in last place in the NL East.
Thursday, April 9th - Brewers 6, Mets 5
It looked like the Brewers’ losing streak might reach 7 games, but a clutch performance from an old standby picked the team up late and stopped the skid.
Lorenzo Cain came through with the go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning, saving his biggest hit for last in a 4-for-5 night. Josh Hader — who has had a rocky start to the year — struck out 2 batters and walked one in a scoreless 9th for his 2nd save of the year.
Adrian Houser’s line for the night would have looked much better had it not been for Jeff McNeil, who took Houser deep twice — a solo shot in the 4th and a three-run bomb in the 5th that gave the Mets the lead. Houser finished with 4 earned runs over 5 innings, with 3 walks and 6 strikeouts. He again struggled with efficiency, throwing 96 pitches in those 5 innings.
Friday, April 10th - Mets 10, Brewers 0
This one will hurt the old Pythag record.
In one of those games where the Brewers at least gave you the courtesy of letting you know early you could find something else to watch or go to bed early, they fell behind 3-0 in the first inning on a 3-run homer by Michael Conforto off of Josh Lindblom, and after that nothing else really mattered. That ended up being more than enough run support for Noah Syndergaard, who threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk. The Mets’ lineup kept pouring it on, though, and there are now some very ugly ERAs developing in the Milwaukee bullpen.
Saturday, April 11th - Mets 5, Brewers 2
Corbin Burnes got the start in this game after last week’s injury to Brett Anderson, and Eric Lauer appeared in relief the night before.
Unfortunately, the return to the rotation didn’t go as he — or any of us — would have hoped. Burnes walked 3 batters and gave up 3 runs on 6 hits — but no home runs — in just 3.2 innings of work before being forced to leave the game with a sore shoulder. The beleaguered bullpen actually did a decent job of limiting the damage after that, only allowing 2 more runs for the rest of the game, but the Brewers’ lineup was again stifled by a Mets starter — this time old rival Michael Wacha, who held them to 2 runs over 8 innings.
After the game, team doctors considered Burnes’ shoulder soreness a day-to-day injury. The team hopes he’ll be ready to make another start in 5 days.
Sunday, April 12th - Mets 19, Brewers 4
When you need a win, you turn to your ace.
Unfortunately, it may be too soon to use that word with Brandon Woodruff. The Mets again jumped the Brewers out of the games, scoring 5 runs off Woodruff in the first inning, including a grand slam by shortstop Luis Guillorme. Woodruff would end up being chased from the game without recording an out in the 2nd inning after giving up a 6th run.
Conforto added 6 RBI despite being walked 3 times on the afternoon, thanks in large part to another grand slam — this one off of Justin Grimm in a laughable 12-run 5th inning for the Mets that ended with RYAN BRAUN pitching to get the final out of the inning after Devin Williams (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 ER), Grimm (0.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER) and David Phelps (0 outs recorded, 4 H, 3 ER) couldn’t manage to piece together three outs.
In the ultimate sign he was punting this game, Craig Counsell ended up letting Braun pitch 1.1 innings, Ben Gamel record an out, Manny Pina pitch 1.2 innings, and Orlando Arcia pitch the 9th.
The sad indictment of the Brewers’ bullpen: Those 4 position players threw a scoreless 4.1 innings between them, the longest stretch of consecutive scoreless innings from the bullpen in more than a week.
Grimm and Phelps were both designated for assignment after the game. Aaron Wilkerson and Drew Rasmussen were called up to take their places in the bullpen as the Brewers fall to 5-10.
Monday, April 13th - Brewers 4, Phillies 2
Christian Yelich was quoted after the game saying this win was a team effort, but that’s not really true — Yelich was more or less the only reason the Brewers won this game. He went 3-for-4 on the night, including a go-ahead 2-run home run in the 8th inning. Hader was able to close the door in the 9th inning without any drama.
Brent Suter offered an encouraging pitching performance, getting the start and throwing 5 innings while allowing just one unearned run and only 3 hits (although he did walk 4 batters).
Tuesday, April 14th - Phillies 11, Brewers 5
For 5 innings, it looked like Adrian Houser was starting to turn the corner on his season. Then the wheels fell off in the 6th inning.
The score was tied at 1 at that point, before the Phillies loaded the bases against Houser with nobody out. An RBI single by pitcher Vince Velasquez broke the tie and may have broken Houser’s spirit — a sac fly by Jean Segura followed, then Rhys Hoskins reached on an error by Avisail Garcia in left field. A 2-RBI single by Didi Gregorius chased Houser from the game, but an RBI single by J.T. Realmuto off of Wilkerson added another run to his ledger. That put the Phillies up 6-1, and they were never really in jeopardy after that, even when the Brewers cut the score to 8-5 after 8 innings.
Wednesday, April 15th - Brewers 7, Phillies 2
If the Brewers are going to get out of this early-season hole, it looks like it will be Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain pulling them out of it. Cain broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 2nd inning with a bases-clearing, 3-RBI double and Yelich tacked on two solo home runs in the win. Yelich is now hitting .314 with 7 home runs in the Brewers’ first 18 games.
Josh Lindblom rebounded from a poor outing in his last start to hold Philadelphia to 2 runs — both solo home runs — while striking out 8 over 6.2 innings.
Thursday, April 16 - Phillies 9, Brewers 2
J.T. Realmuto homered twice while the Brewers once again were forced to Johnny Wholestaff a game with less than ideal results. The bullpen was once again not helpful after a short outing by Corbin Burnes (71 pitches in 3.2 innings, only allowing one earned run), but that doesn’t matter when the offense struggles to get anyone on base.
The Phillies lost Jake Arrieta to injury after just 3 innings in this game, but the Brewers could still only muster 4 hits. After starting the year 4-1, the Brewers are now an abysmal 3-11 in April.
Record in the last week: 3-5
Overall record: 7-12
Pitching storyline of the week: We’ve harped on the bullpen so far this year, but the rotation has not been much better. Hampered by short outings, the rotation has an ERA of 5.40 in the season’s first 19 games, while the bullpen ERA is approaching 6 at 5.94. Both are last in the National League. Some of that may be bad luck — Brewers pitchers are currently being battered with a .332 BABIP — but the poor defense (13th in the NL in defensive efficiency, 14th in zone rating) seems unlikely to improve much over the course of the year, considering the roster. Pitchers are doing what they can — they’re actually tied for 2nd in the NL in strikeouts — but the combination of walks and shoddy defense is a dangerous one.
Hitting storyline of the week: Despite the strong early-season effort from Christian Yelich, Brewers batters are hitting just .220/.292/.391 to start the season — that’s the worst batting average and OBP in the NL, as well as the worst OPS. Simply put, everyone is slumping, and it looks like the concerning PECOTA projections for Keston Hiura may prove to be prophetic. It’s too early to officially call it a sophomore slump, but the young man Craig Counsell has counted on to be his cleanup hitter early in the year is hitting just .209/.312/.448 with 23 strikeouts in 67 at-bats.
Next week: @ New York (4/17, 4/18, 4/19), @ Pittsburgh (4/21, 4/22, 4/23)