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.
Our Local Nine, you may remember, came out of the blocks hot with a 4-1 start against the Cubs and Cardinals.
Since then? It’s been a nightmare.
A week of games against the Mets and Pirates figured to give the Brewers an opportunity to climb back towards the .500 mark. Instead, a struggling offense ran into a buzzsaw of a rotation and the House of Horrors known as PNC Park.
Friday, April 17th - Mets 3, Brewers 1
When you’re a struggling team, Jacob deGrom is not the kind of pitcher you want to see standing on the mound. The former Cy Young winner cruised to an easy win in a game that never felt as close as the final score would indicate. The Mets scored all 3 of their runs in the first 2 innings, and deGrom held the Brewers to just 1 run on 4 hits over 8 innings, 5 of which were 1-2-3 innings. Brandon Woodruff fell to 0-2 and saw his ERA rise to 6.87 after allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and 5 walks over 5.1 innings.
If there was any good news on this day, it’s that Luis Urias began a rehab assignment at Triple-A San Antonio.
Saturday, April 18th - Mets 3, Brewers 2
Things looked more promising for the Brewers early, as they built a 2-0 lead with runs in each of the first two innings against Marcus Stroman. That’s all they would end up getting, though, as Stroman, Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz held the Brewers hitless over the game’s final 7 innings.
Sunday, April 19th - Mets 4, Brewers 0
The Brewers were hoping to salvage at least one game in New York against Rick Porcello in the series finale, who had given up 5 runs in 5.2 innings against the Braves in his last start. That didn’t happen. Instead, Porcello shut out the Brewers over 8 innings, sending them to yet another sweep and last place in the NL Central at 7-15.
Both Justin Grimm and David Phelps, designated for assignment last week, ended up clearing waivers. Grimm was sent back to Triple-A San Antonio, while Phelps was released after refusing assignment to the minors.
Eric Lauer was also sent back to the minors to make room for the returning Brett Anderson. Urias was also called up from his rehab assignment early in hopes of sparking the sputtering offense. Orlando Arcia was optioned to Triple-A in the corresponding move.
Tuesday, April 21st - Pirates 7, Brewers 6
Nothing but pain comes when the Brewers go to PNC Park. Hoping to snap a 4-game losing streak, the Brewers held a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th inning — only to see it all slip away. Josh Lindblom cruised through the game’s first 6 innings before the defense started to betray him. After a one-out walk to Adam Frazier, Luis Urias booted what could have been an inning-ending double play, allowing Jacob Stallings to reach. On the very next batter, Eric Sogard misplayed a ball at third base hit by Ke’Bryan Hayes to load the bases.
Aaron Wilkerson came on in relief in a very tough situation with the bases loaded but didn’t get much help, either. Keston Hiura booted a grounder that again could have been an inning-ending double play — the third consecutive error by the infield — that allowed a run in. Two more runs would come in on a single by Guillermo Heredia and a Kevin Newman groundout before it was Justin Smoak’s turn to botch a play, getting charged with an error on a Bryan Reynolds ground out that allowed J.T. Riddle to score.
The Brewers at least still held a 6-4 lead after that nightmare of an inning, but then Alex Claudio again failed to do his job in the 8th inning, allowing a first-pitch one-out single to the lefty Frazier and another single to Stallings on a 3-1 count before being pulled in favor of Devin Williams. After getting Hayes to fly out, Williams surrendered a gutpunch of a 2-out, 3-run home run to Riddle to give the Pirates the lead in the 8th inning.
Wednesday, April 22nd - Pirates 5, Brewers 4
This was another blown lead for the Brewers, although this came earlier than the night before. Milwaukee held a 4-2 lead after a 2-run home run by Christian Yelich in the 3rd inning, but the Pirates scored single runs in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings to take the lead and the game.
Corbin Burnes again struggled in his latest opportunity to start, issuing 5 walks in 3.2 innings before exiting the game.
Thursday, April 23rd - Pirates 4, Brewers 3
Another series sweep, and at this point it’s almost funny — the Brewers are now 0-11 on the road on the young season. This time it was Chris Stratton holding Milwaukee to just 1 run over 6 innings, while Woodruff continued his disappointing start to the year with 4 earned runs over 5.2 innings.
Record over the last week: 0-6
Overall record: 7-18
Pitching storyline of the week: If the Brewers were going to be competitive this year, they needed Brandon Woodruff to pitch like an All-Star. Instead, through 6 starts, Woodruff has the highest ERA in the rotation at 6.75. Some of that may be bad luck, with a .406 BABIP against him, but the 6.4 walks per 9 innings aren’t doing him any favors. He’ll need to turn it around quickly if the Brewers have any prayer of digging out of this early-season hole.
Hitting storyline of the week: Luis Urias made his much-anticipated Brewers debut and has made a good first impression, going 4-for-11 with 2 RBI in his first 3 games. Christian Yelich (now hitting .281/.367/.531 with 8 home runs in 25 games) desperately needs some help carrying the lineup, as Lorenzo Cain has seen his OPS drop to .696 and Keston Hiura is now hitting just .193/.287/.386.
Next week: @ Colorado (4/24, 4/25, 4/26), vs. Washington (4/28, 4/29, 4/30)