Last season, the Brewers had one of the worst starting pitching staffs in baseball. Jimmy Nelson, arguably the Brewers best pitcher, had a 4.11 ERA last season, while veteran pitchers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, who were on the staff to provide consistency, had ERAs north of five.
This season, it’s looking like the same old story. Besides Nelson, who has a 3.16 ERA through five games and has held opponents to a .212 average, the starting pitching rotation has look even worse than last years. Wily Peralta, who was looking for a rebound coming off of an injury riddled 2015, has a 7.50 ERA through six games. For a pitcher who thrives on strikeouts, his 18 strikeouts are concerning. He is also giving up 7.5 hits per-outing.
Despite a solid start to the season, Chase Anderson has also struggled, as his ERA has climbed to 5.55. Taylor Jungmann and Zach Davies have given the Brewers everything but quality starts. Jungmann, who was sent down to Triple-A Colorado, pitched in five games so far and has an ERA of 9.15, but it gets worse still. Davies, despite having a lower ERA of 8.73 has been allowing opposing batters to hit for an average of .411. The only silver lining for Davies is that he has accumulated ten strikeouts through only three starts, but even that is nothing to write home about.
The pitching this season was never expected to be at an All-Star level, but it was also expected the Brewers would have more than one starting pitcher with an ERA below five.
The Brewers’ best arms rest in the bullpen. Michael Blazek, Jeremy Jeffress, Blaine Boyer and Tyler Thornburg all boast ERAs that are below three, but the problem is the game is normally blown open before the bullpen gets into the game.
Blazek has only 11 innings of work, Jeffress has only 9.2, Boyer only has 12.2 and Thornburg only has 9.1. It really is no surprise that relief pitchers are getting low amounts of work, but it’s astonishing that they are not utilized more considering the atrocity that is the Brewers starting rotation.
Hitting wise, the Brewers are exceeding expectations. Ryan Braun has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball to start the year as he has hit in 20 RBIs and has an average of .349. Jonathan Lucroy has also began to come on at the plate after a slow start raising his average to .299. One of the bigger surprises, one month into the season, has been Chris ‘Sleepy’ Carter’s ability to hit for average this year.
Carter, who in previous season has lacked patience at the plate, has already drawn 11 walks through 79 at bats. His average is also at .278 while his slugging percentage is at .671, which is the team’s best. Alex Presley, who was called up two weeks ago, has come on strong in the minors hitting for a .308 average and a .949 OPS in his limited at bats.
So far this season, we’ve seen some surprises. The pitching: A lot worse than we thought it would be. The batting: Better than expected. But perhaps most surprising: It has only been one month, and it already feels like it has been a long season for the Brewers.