Ryan Braun is back.
In Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Braun continued his offensive streak, hitting his fifth home run of the season and increasing his batting average to .364 and his OPS to 1.068. Currently, he is on pace for 43 homers and 128 RBIs. If his batting average and OPS hold, they would be career highs. Granted we are only 19 games into the season, Braun’s hot start to the season is a very good sign that his health is finally at or near 100 percent.
Tied with Braun for the team lead in home runs is first baseman Chris Carter. Coming into the year, everyone knew he was signed as a home run or strikeout hitter, but no one envisioned he would be batting .295 through the first month. His five home runs is very predictable, but his .361 on base percentage is a surprise.
Another big storyline coming out of Sunday’s 8-5 win over the Phillies was Wily Peralta getting his first win of the season. It wasn’t the best start from the Brewers’ number one starter, but he went six innings, struck out five and only gave up three earned runs. Considering his previous starts of giving up 17 total earned runs over five games, this start was a step in the right direction.
Overall, the past week has been cruel to the Brewers’ pitching staff. Chase Anderson’s scoreless innings streak ended as he gave up four earned runs in five innings to the Minnesota Twins. Taylor Jungmann’s first win proved elusive as he could only walked six over four innings and gave up three earned runs in Thursday’s game. In Saturday’s game against the Phillies, the pitching was at it’s worst; Anderson scattered six earned runs over only four innings and Jeremy Jeffress gave up three runs in the ninth inning as the Brewers chances of a comeback went out the window.
The 7-8-9 bullpen pitchers in Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg, and Jeffress have been relatively consistent. Blazek has given up three earned runs over his nine innings of work so far and has held opposing batters to a .161 average. Thornburg has only had one bad outing, giving up three runs to the Twins on Tuesday. Otherwise, Thornburg has only surrendered two hits in his other seven appearances. Outside of that three-run outing, Jeffress has not given up a run and has six saves in the Brewers’ eight wins.
So, while the Brewers have made great strides offensively to start the year, with Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Lucroy also doing very well at the plate, the pitching struggles have limited the overall success for the team.
The next series coming up is against the rival Chicago Cubs and the hottest pitcher in baseball, Jake Arrieta. It will be a good test for the Brewers’ hot bats to see if they can keep slugging against baseball’s best.