Through 70 games, almost halfway through the MLB season, the Milwaukee Brewers are 6 games out of the second Wild Card.
Many see 6 games out and only being 8 games under .500 as a nice surprise. The team has been fun to watch, and despite a rough last week, competing almost every game.
Ryan Braun is back to playing like the MVP he once was holding an All-Star .315/.376/.536 line so far this season. Jonathan Lucroy has found new power at the plate as evident by his ten dingers thus far while also hitting for a .311 batting average, shrugging off any concerns of lingering injury issues. Jonathan Villar, a product of a trade that sent the disappointing prospect Cy Sneed to Houston, is on pace to steal 60 bases, and Chris Carter is on pace to hit over 40 home runs.
Pitching wise, the Brewers seem to have turned a corner. The beginning of the year was atrocious, behind the play of Wily Peralta who was sent down to the minors last week due to his 6.68 ERA and 4-7 record through 13 games. Matt Garza’s return from injury is perhaps the shove the pitching staff needed to get around the corner.
Through 10 innings of work so far, Garza has shown promise, as he has struck out seven and only allowed one run. Jimmy Nelson has remained the most consistent starter this season and has been a workhorse for the Brewers. Through 85 innings, Nelson has a 3.92 ERA and holds 67 strikeouts. 23-year old Zach Davies has also been a breath of fresh air, behind his five straight starts of allowing only two runs or less.
Even 31-year old rookie Junior Guerra has been a positive. Even with only nine starts under his belt, he is already fourth on the team in strikeouts and third on the team for batting average allowed to opposing hitters.
The bullpen is also doing good things. Closer Jeremy Jeffress has converted on 19 of his 20 save opportunities and the Brewers best bullpen arm from last season, Will Smith, is back from a knee injury that almost cost him the whole 2016 season. Despite how he has pitched on this West Coast trip, the Brewers are glad to have Smith back.
But these Brewers are supposed to be in a rebuild. Winning games, hitting home runs, getting strikeouts and converting on save opportunities is supposed to be second to trading and getting more prospects.
Their farm system has already quickly climbed the ranks to become one of baseball’s best and many are assuming the Brewers will be sellers at the deadline to add to the pool of future talent. Players like Braun, Lucroy, Carter and others are assumed to be on other teams come the August 1 trade deadline.
Owner Mark Attanasio seems pretty adamant that players like Braun and Lucroy are not being “shopped” and with top-flight, young prospects like pitcher Josh Hader and shortstop Orlando Arcia playing exceptionally well, maybe the rebuild won’t be as excruciating long as we all thought. Maybe we don’t need to trade the players on the team right now and maybe the fans can enjoy entertaining the unlikely but fun thought of making the playoffs in the middle of a rebuild.
*All stats from MLB.com