Last week was just tough. No way around it. Coming off of an eight game winning streak, the Milwaukee Brewers only mustered up a total of two runs over four games against the NL Central rival Chicago Cubs. The offense that put them atop the division has all but disappeared in the matter of a week.
All we have to do is look to last week’s column and see where things became unraveled.
Domingo Santana is still an untrade-able asset and thus not much of an asset at all for the Brewers. He did post five hits on 16 at bats, which is not terrible, over the past seven days.
But his calling card in his breakout 2017 season was his slugging. Of those five hits only one was for extra bases. And here is the kicker, that one double actually doubled his year total. In just over a month of work, Santana has mustered only one extra base hit.
Another topic last week was the middle infield: Mainly second base. Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard, I thought were enough to keep minor league infielders in the minor leagues.
Oh what a difference a week can make.
Sogard was absolutely awful this past week, losing one game for the Brewers on a fielding error and hitting for a robust .000 batting average.
Villar faired a bit better hitting .250 last week. But awful and fine is not ideal for the second base position. Especially considering the talent in the minors. It’s time to spark the offense with a prospect getting the call.
Look to 28 year old utility fielder Nate Orf to get the call (.319/.440/.435) if the Brewers want to protect their younger, higher rated prospects in the minors.
Speaking of offense…
The Brewers will never hit a homerun again
It kind of feels right to say after just how awful the Brewers’ bats were against the Cubs. The contrast of the two series against the Marlins and Reds when compared to the Cubs series is just astounding.
After slugging the ball last week in Miller Park, the Brewers still saw some success this past week, just not against the Cubs. Against the Royals, Travis Shaw and Lorenzo Cain crushed two bombs in the series opener. But after that, the long ball disappeared.
This brings us to the point, the offense, much like the offense of years past, will live and die on the homerun ball. The three weeks prior to this one, the Brewers hit 27 homeruns or nine per week. Two just won’t cut it.
The silver lining about the 27 homeruns prior to this week is that the power is there. More weeks than not the Brewers should be able to hit more than two.
The starters have turned a corner
They may have gone 2-4 last week, but there is one huge positive moving forward for the Brewers: Starting pitching.
After an inconsistent start to the year the Brewers starters turned in six straight quality starts.
Zach Davies gave up only four runs in 11.2 innings of work. Chase Anderson looked every bit like an ace giving up one run over 7.0 inning of work against the Cubs.
But not to be out Junior Guerra continued his hot streak, going six innings giving up only one run. On the season Guerra has a minuscule 0.82 ERA over 22.0 innings. He has also found his putaway stuff posting 21 strikeouts and only eight walks.
Even Jhoulys Chacín has started to find his rythym bring his season ERA down to 3.99 after only two runs over 5.0 innings.
There are also pitchers coming back from injury after promising Spring Trainings (Wade Miley) and pitchers in the minors who seem primed for a June call up (Freddy Peralta).
Everything last week points to a better starting rotation. But I’m not going to trust it, at least not yet.
Chacín still cannot pitch against lefty hitters (giving up a .333 average) and has was almost at a pace of one walk per inning prior to last weeks quality start. For all intents and purposes, this could have been a mere blip on the radar.
Guerra’s fastball is back to being slightly above league average at 92.79 mph but four starts is not enough to crown him to being back to ace stuff. At his age, that velocity might eb-and-flow as the season wears on.
Oh and Miley, the guy coming to replace Suter, who has been unable to do much, just got rocked in a minor league rehab assignment and hasn’t proven to be anything more than the well below average pitcher he was last year.
Until I am proven wrong and until GM David Stearns calls up Freddy Peralta, I’m not ready to call it.