The Milwaukee Brewers have not played that well thus far in 2020. Sitting with a record of 6-7, it feels like the Brewers are fortunate to be where they are at. Hopefully things turn around for them. Unfortunately there are concerns that create a pessimism around the playoff hopes for this team. Prior to the recent hitting performances of Keston Hiura and Christian Yelich, I would have added their inability to hit to this list. It seems as if that ship has been righted. Here are the things that make me pessimistic about the Brewers moving forward in 2020
Limited protection for Hiura and Yelich
While the signs are good that Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura are picking things up, the Brewers’ lineup is in real jeopardy of being reliant on those two hitters to carry them through the rest of the season. The additions brought in to supplement the two sluggers have not materialized.
Obviously Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain have not been in the lineup and the results show. With wRC+ between 39-75, players like Avisail Garcia, Omar Narvaez, Justin Smoak, and Logan Morrison are not even approaching league average. We are only thirteen games in, so things can change in a hurry. At this point, things have been disappointing.
Veteran presence decimated
There are veterans on the 2020 Brewers’ squad. Christian Yelich is playing in his 8th season, for example. Yet in previous seasons, Milwaukee has enjoyed the presence and performance of high caliber veterans that played and won on some of the biggest stages.
The loss of Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas likely impacted this team in a big way. Add the character, personality, and imposing threat of Eric Thames to that list and we have what made up 1⁄3 of the positional player group on most nights. With Lorenzo Cain opting out of the 2020 season and Ryan Braun injured, this team is sorely lacking in what it had during its playoff runs of 2018 and 2019.
To illustrate look at last night’s lineup, which was the 13th game of this season.
Now look at the Brewers’ lineup for the 13th game of the season from 2019 with that veteran presence in place.
Which lineup would you rather face?
There is good, but a lot of bad and ugly in the pitching staff
The Good: Brandon Woodruff has been quite good. Adrian Houser has been even better and looks to be breaking out. Corbin Burnes is showing signs of breaking out as well. Josh Hader is “unhittable” when he pitches, as is Eric Yardley. David Phelps has been a nice addition setting up for Hader. Devin Williams could become a dominant reliever and early results are good on that front.
The Bad and the Ugly: Freddy Peralta, Eric Lauer, and Brett Anderson are posting ERAs between 5.40 and 9.53 and are 0-4 in games they start. Bobby Wahl, Justin Grimm and Corey Knebel have been bad as well posting ERAs of 11.57, 9.00 and 7.71 respectively.
These six gentlemen were expected to play significant roles on this team. I expect most of them will, but early results are not encouraging.
Entering stretch of stiff competition with a record of 6-7
Over the next ten games the Brewers face the Minnesota Twins six times and the Chicago Cubs four times. Add three games at PNC Park and the Brewers play ten of the next thirteen games on the road. Minnesota and Chicago currently stand at the top of their respective divisions. This stretch of games will be a real test for Milwaukee.
If the Brew Crew were to lose seven of the next ten games, for example, the Brewers would have a 9-14 record with 37 games remaining. While in no way insurmountable, the likely deficit created would make the march to the end of the season and a potential playoff birth difficult. They need to at least tread water during this tough stretch.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs