Well, Brewers fans… we’re nearing the quarter mark of the MLB season. The Craig Counsell honeymoon phase has worn off and the Brewers have returned to their frustratingly inconsistent ways. We sit at an NL worst 13-25.
I’ve already covered the various ways the Brewers can go about rebuilding in depth. I’ve also discussed my thoughts on the firing of Ron Roenicke and the elephant in the room that is Doug Melvin’s employment status. It’s going to be until at least late June until we start seeing anything from a front office standpoint unfold. So, what’s left to talk about?
In the spirit of throwing it back a bit, we’re going to go 2014 Sunday Cycle Single/Double/Triple/HR style and talk about “Who’s Hot” and “Who’s Not”. Spoiler Alert: there was not much to pick from as far as the “Whose Hot” is concerned.
Single- Who’s Not: Khris Davis
After starting the year as one of the few bright spots in this Brewers lineup, Davis has seen his batting average drop from .310 through 12 games to .241, which is just below the .244 mark he posted last year. 2015 needed to be a big year for Davis. The Brewers front office showed a remarkable amount of confidence in Davis before the 2014 season by shifting Ryan Braun to left field, giving Davis the starting job on a daily basis. Since then, he has been the epitome of what is wrong with this Brewers team.
Davis is supposed to be a power hitter, but he only hit 22 last year with half his games coming at Miller Park. Only two teams have more strikeouts this year than the Brewers, and Davis leads the team with 36. While he has been fielding his position amicably, it is no secret that he does not have a major league arm, making him a liability out in left field with RISP. With a gold glover in Gerardo Parra sitting on the bench, who is also sporting a team leading slugging percentage of .527, it’s hard to imagine the Brewers sticking with Davis much longer this year. It’s been a disappointing start to a year that needed to show real signs of progress for the young left fielder.
Double- Who’s Hot: Adam Lind
Arguably the biggest hole the Brewers needed to fill this past offseason was at first base. Last year, Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay formed the tandem of death at first, combining for a .210 batting average with 107 strike outs during the year. While the Brewers missed the playoffs by six games in 2014, it’s hard to believe that a batting average even 50 points higher could have made enough of a difference to end some of the losing streaks that crippled this team after the All Star Break.
Enter Adam Lind. An injury plagued, 31-year old who “can’t hit lefties” and is four seasons removed from his best years in the majors. 38 games in, Lind is proving everyone who doubted him wrong, myself included. He has been a beacon of consistency in a lineup that has otherwise lacked it. His .382 OBP leads the team, and he is on pace for 81 walks on the year, which would shatter his previous career high. He’s even held his own at first base, bailing the rest of the infield out a number of times by digging out balls in the dirt.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of this Brewers team is that Lind was supposed to be the missing piece. A solid everyday first baseman combined with the talent that kept this team in first place for 80% of last season was supposed to be the formula for winning in Milwaukee. Obviously, this hasn’t panned out. At least Brewers fans can take solace in Lind’s club friendly contract that extends through next year – he will fetch a ton of interest in July should he keep these numbers up. He may do more good for this organization in just three months than Doug Melvin has done in over a decade.
Triple – Who’s Not: Brewers Starting Pitching
The Brewer’s Starting Pitching ranks second last in the NL in ERA with a whopping 5.02 through 38 games – but that doesn’t tell the entire story. They have been the picture of inconsistency all season. It seems like every time the Brewers seem to get it going as a team (see Friday’s 7-0 win in New York), the starting pitchers turn in a momentum killing effort that erases everything (see Saturday’s 14-1 loss in New York). The starters can share the blame- they’ve been all over the place. The graph below that resembles the crayon drawings of a frustrated three year old shows the starting pitcher ERA on a game by game basis.
Two items to look at here. First- while the game by game ERA (blue line) may appear to be consistently low, that is only because the Y Axis had to go up to 30 to cover three dismal performances by Lohse (opening day), Nelson (7ER through 2 innings) and Matt Garza, who threw one of the worst 250 starts in baseball history on Saturday. You can’t win ball games when your starters aren’t giving you a chance.
The second item worth mentioning is that the rolling ERA has remained above five for the majority of the season. So while there have been some nice outings, they have been sandwiched between lackluster efforts. Top to bottom, the starting rotation hasn’t been able to put together quality starts on a consistent basis: it is killing the Crew. It’s also worth noting that the rotation leads the majors in home runs allowed with 38.
It’s been a frustrating couple of months for a rotation that was supposed to be a bright spot on this Brewers team, and even more importantly, is supposed to be a source of trade value. At this pace, the Brewers will be lucky if they can get one team to look at Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza.
Home Run: Who’s Not [employed anymore]- Scooter Gennett
It would have helped my credibility as a Brewers writer greatly had I powered through my hangover yesterday and put this article out on time, but alas, such is life. Scooter Gennett was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs early this morning, a move that was well timed and very necessary to his development as a player.
Simply put, Scooter has been terrible. Before he hit the DL after a freak shower-related injury, Gennett was hitting just .207 with all of his hits coming in the form of singles. Since his return, he has been even worse, batting .118 and looking lost at the plate. He has yet to get a hit against a left handed pitcher, and has just 13 total bases all year. To put that into perspective, Jonathan Lucroy has 8 total bases despite the fact that he has been sidelined since April 20th.
Being demoted this early is unusual, even with stats as terrible as Gennett’s have been. That being said, this could be new manager Craig Counsell staying true to his promise of holding players more accountable. As a big Scooter fan, it’s been tough to see him perform so poorly this year at the plate. As a Brewers fan, however, I’m pleased to see them so willing to make this move. In season that many already consider to be a lost cause, I think it sends the right message in the clubhouse and is the right move to try to get the young second baseman back on track.
In conclusion, loyal fans of the Brewers, it’s going to be a long season. The summer months ahead will likely feature many more losses than wins, as the Brewers enter a period of time where they stop focusing on this year and start preparing for the future. For every one player that gets hot, there will likely be three or more players who are “not”, leading to some tough to watch games. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a very long summer. Is it Packers season yet?