Road trips are synonymous with cramped legs, parents threatening to “turn this van around” and canceling the whole trip, and many gas station pit stops.
For the Brewers there was one thing synonymous with a week long road trip: Winning. they came out of a ten game road trip with a 7-3 record, winning their series against the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Twins.
Last week’s column had me saying Peralta would be a main stay in the rotation after an historic debut that saw 13 strikeouts.
In his second start against the Twins, however, Peralta only lasted four innings, giving up six walks while only striking out five. He was optioned down to Triple A yesterday to hopefully hit a more efficient (a.k.a less walks per nine innings) stride.
I was dead wrong on that take; Peralta is in fact a good pitcher, though not yet a dominant one.
I was right about my other take of more young players not being called up, but for the wrong reasons. We have not yet seen Nate Orf, the elder-minor league-statesmen, break into the majors.
But young players have not been needed.
Before play on Monday, Jonathan Villar has positioned himself to be the mainstay at second base. His average is up to .287 but his on-base percentage, .331, and his strikeouts, 43, are still a concern.
His average is helped by the fact he has seemingly stopped swinging for the fences every at bat, and is instead focusing on contact. Villar’s ground ball percentage is 63.4 percent, six points higher than last year, and his fly ball percent is 13.4 percent, over eight points lower than last year.
Tyler Saladino, Villar’s new backup, has a .438 batting average in 16 at bats. He also has two homeruns, one coming inside-the-park. Second base seems sured up…for the moment.
Now to this week’s takes.
Jesus Aguilar will lead the team in batting average
He is walking more, striking out a lot less, and, in turn, getting on base more. In addition, the power never left.
Aguilar does not qualify for stat leaderboards yet, but his wRC+ (runs created per plate appearance where 100 is the average) of 165 would put him at eighth in all of the MLB ahead of Tommy Pham, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Judge.
Perhaps most striking (or rather, not striking) is the lower strikeout percentage. It is down more than eight points since last season.
It isn’t coming from not swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone. In fact, Aguilar has swung at pitches outside of the zone over three percent of the time more than last season.
The contact that he has been able to generate outside of the zone is the reason why. Aguilar’s contact percentage on pitches out of the zone has jumped from 55.2 percent to 63.1 percent.
The power which gave Aguilar a spot on the roster last season has seemingly not disappeared either. In the three-game set against the Twins he had four homeruns, pushing his season total to seven.
Aguilar is still showing improvements. There are no signs of this just being a blip on the radar. If this keeps up, he won’t just be a team leader, but a league leader.
Verdict: Dead on
Orlando Arcia will end the year in the minors
Make this take at the beginning of the season and you get laughed at. Make it now and you have to think about it.
After a solid 2017 season, Arcia has seen his offense all but disappear. His line before play Monday sat at .208/.248/.292, which is a far cry from last year. To make matters worse, his walk percentage is down and strikeout is percentage up.
The defense and gold glove ceiling are still there and the highlights come in the field, but at the plate Arcia is at the heart of the Brewers’ offensive woes at the bottom of the order.
But the problem is that there are not a lot of options. Saladino has played shortstop before and could provide a start once in awhile, but he’s not a long term option.
Jonathan Villar, who manned shortstop for most of 2016, could also slide over, but then there would just be a hole at second base instead of shortstop.
With Mauricio Dubon going down for the season with an ACL injury, Triple A is without options. Jake Hager at Double A is hitting for a .293/.364/.466 line but is also not a long term option.
Short of a mid-season acquisition, Arcia will have time to figure it out at the major league level.
Lukewarm (very obvious yet needs to be stated) take: The Brewers have the best bullpen and they’re getting better
Corey Knebel is healthy again and getting saves ( he also hasn’t given up a hit in his last four appearances), Jeremy Jeffress is sporting a casual 0.35 ERA and has given up only 10 hits on the season, and have you heard of Josh Hader?
Overall, the Brewers are sporting the best bullpen in the ERA. But with a couple of them getting healthy (Knebel and Boone Logan) and just hitting their strides, the bullpen has room to grow.
The bullpen has also helped give the Brewers an overall team ERA of 3.47, good for fourth-best in all of the MLB.
Bonus take, sponsored by Haderade
Against the Twins on Saturday, Josh Hader came in for a two and one-third inning save. Only up one, Hader was unfazed and struck out the final six batters.
He is still on pace for a historic season. Hader is on pace for 18.44 strikeouts per nine innings (almost one strikeout higher than the record) and his 0.51 WHIP would be second all-time if the season were to end today.
By the way, he is posting a 59 percent strikeout percentage, which is seven points higher than the current record.
Death. Taxes. And Josh Hader making hitters look like fools.