The quarter-mark of the 2018 MLB season is approaching and teams are beginning to realize their identities. The Milwaukee Brewers are 21-15 through 36 games, a respectable record that lines up with preseason expectations for the team. Currently second in the NL Central, Milwaukee is one of the teams in the MLB that likely has not found their groove just yet given some major changes to the roster during the offseason as well as some key injuries to start the season.

The surprising thing about Milwaukee is that their pitching has been the driving force behind their early season success while the offense has struggled to get into a hitting rhythm. With a team OBP of .304 the Brewers rank 26th in the MLB in one of the most important offensive categories, and it has in turn seen them rank 27th as a team in runs scored.

Luckily for the Crew, their pitching has stepped up in the absence of consistent run support. The team ERA is third in the majors at 3.36, and allowing a batting average of just .229 on the year has Milwaukee good for sixth in the league. The star of the bunch thus far has been young talent Josh Hader out of the bullpen. Hader has proven he is capable of going long innings when necessary, or can step in and make saves late in tight ball games. His ridiculous 18.8 strikeouts per nine innings partnered with the fact that he has allowed just five hits in 22 innings pitched showcase how great he has been.

With the pitching looking surprisingly great, the next step for the new-look Brewers is to get the bats to wake up. Newcomers Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich have been staples in the starting lineup and have performed well with their new team, but some of the familiar faces in Milwaukee have struggled the most.

Star third baseman Travis Shaw has posted a lowly .230 batting average so far, well below his .273 average from 2017, and his OBP has dipped from .349 to .317 this year. After a stellar year at the plate last season, stud shortstop Orlando Arcia has dropped from a .277 batting average to just .216 so far in 2018. Ryan Braun, who has consistently gotten on base over his fantastic career to post a career OBP of .363 has managed just a .283 in that category so far in 2018.

The Brewers are by no means underperforming to start the season, but have shined and struggled in categories that many did not expect. If the pitching can continue their strong play and the hits start to come together for the offense as anticipated, Milwaukee can surely improve on their 21-15 record and make a push for the NL Central title and a deep playoff run.

 

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