The Milwaukee Brewers, winners of eight straight games, are making headlines all over Major League Baseball. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was just named National League Player of the Week. Outfielder Gerardo Parra is third in the National League in batting average since April 25 with a .335 average, right behind Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt. First baseman Adam Lind has recorded at least 1 RBI in his last nine games, which has tied a Brewers franchise record. What’s to make of this Brewers hot streak, and how will it affect any personnel decisions moving forward?
This Past Road Trip
The Brewers are coming off of a perfect road trip, winning four straight games in Philadelphia and three straight games in Cincinnati. The three wins in Cincinnati were perhaps more impressive than the series in Philadelphia, since the Brewers do not historically play well at Great American Ballpark. We all expected the hitting to come around for the Brewers, especially come summer time. This past weekend, however, we saw three great outings by Brewers starting pitchers (Mike Fiers, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann), which led to the sweep in Cincinnati.
While this is the first bout of excitement about baseball all season long in Milwaukee, fans should not start thinking about the playoffs. The Brewers still hold the fourth worst record in the National League, and sit 10 games behind the second wildcard spot. The Phillies hold Major League Baseball’s worst record, and the Reds have the fifth worst record in the National League. There’s still a lot of work to be done in July, August, and September.
What’s to Like?
Brewers starting pitching has started to come along, especially when it comes to the youngsters. Taylor Jungmann, a top prospect for the last several years, has started to make a name for himself in the Majors. In his first 6 big league starts, after being called up from Triple-A to replace an injured Wily Peralta, Jungmann holds a 3-1 record to go along with a 2.43 ERA. He has not had a difficult adjustment thus far. Mike Fiers has also come along, as of late. In his last three starts, all of which were Brewers victories, Fiers has only let up three runs in 20 innings of work. Fiers is starting to finally look like the Fiers of 2014, and is starting to get some run support to work with, as well.
Right fielder Ryan Braun is starting to quietly put together an All-Star caliber season. Through 80 games, Braun is hitting .276 with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. His 15 home runs put him in a tie for 7th place in the National League. In the seven game road trip this past week, Braun hit .412. His bat is really starting to wake up, which is a great sign for Brewers nation as they look to get their franchise player back on track.
Second base has been the problem position for the Brewers all season long, but Scooter Gennett is starting to finally put up some production. Since being recalled from Triple-A on June 11, Gennett is hitting .312 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI.
What’s Not to Like?
Set-up man Jonathan Broxton is continuing his season-long struggles. On the season, Broxton has a 1-2 record to go along with a dismal 6.97 ERA. Over his last 8 outings, he has let up 8 earned runs in 6.2 innings. This certainly will not help his trade value.
Matt Garza was placed on the 15-day disabled list today with right shoulder tendinitis, and will be replaced in the rotation by rookie Tyler Cravy. Garza has really struggled this season, and has not caught many breaks at all. On the season, Garza has a 4-10 record with a 5.55 ERA. Garza and Kyle Lohse were expected to anchor the Brewers pitching rotation this season, but both have really disappointed.
The Brewers expect left fielder Khris Davis back from injury sometime this week. Getting a player back from injury is usually a good thing, but this will mean more bench time for other hot Brewers players. This will force Gerardo Parra’s scorching hot bat to the bench at least two or three times a week. Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun may start sitting a day or two a week, as well.
This Next Week
The Brewers will face two playoff-caliber teams this week before entering the All-Star Break, starting with three games at home against the Atlanta Braves and three games on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Luckily for the Brewers, they are scheduled to miss both Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in L.A. They will also be facing two rookie pitchers for the Braves in Milwaukee. If the Brewers go 4-2 or 5-1 this week, this could lead to different discussions among the Brewers brass regarding the July 31st trade deadline.
Who’s the Brewers All-Star?
Ryan Braun, Adam Lind, and Francisco Rodriguez all make compelling arguments to be the lone Brewers All-Star representative on July 14 in Cincinnati. As of a week or two ago, it looked like K-Rod was the lock to be the Brewers All-Star, but Braun’s recent resurgence and the lack of quality National League outfielders could actually lead him to yet another All-Star berth. Unfortunately for Lind, he is faced with beating out other prominent players at his position. On the season, K-Rod has converted all 18 of his save opportunities for the Brewers, to go along with a 1.45 ERA.
Brewers Trade Talk
Will this recent resurgence by the Brewers ultimately affect their personnel decisions over the next several weeks? I unfortunately think it will not, and here’s why.
The Brewers still have the fourth worst record in the National League, and the worst record in the NL Central Division. They face many vacancies in their lineup after the season, and have plenty of uncertainties moving forward. Adam Lind and Gerardo Parra will be free agents, and Aramis Ramirez is retiring after the season. The Brewers need to try playing some young players in their infield to find a winning combination for the years to come. Top prospect Orlando Arcia has been turning heads all season long as the shortstop at their Double-A affiliate. When will Arcia be big-league ready, and what does this mean for the future of Jean Segura? Carlos Gomez has one year remaining on his contract after this season. Is he the long-term answer in center field for the Brewers? And finally, do the Brewers have the young pitching in their farm system to seriously compete in the years to come? Many would argue that the Brewers do not, and they could dangle some key players in order to solve these pitching shortcomings. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago continue to improve year after year in the NL Central, and the Brewers are far from that. Now is the time to evaluate the future of the franchise, not loom on the recent success.