If we’re being honest, it’s been an exhaustively disappointing first half to the 2015 MLB season for the Milwaukee Brewers. While expectations were low to begin with, very few could have predicted the Brewers would begin their season with the worst start in franchise history.
It’s been a sad and steady decline for a team that was 53-42 and in first place at the All Star break last year. At 38-52, the Brewers will enter the All Star break with the 3rd worst record in all of baseball. As is tradition here at the Sunday Cycle (does two years make it a tradition?) let’s take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the first half of the 2015 season.
Biggest Surprise: Taylor Jungmann
As the Brewers first round draft pick in 2011, Taylor Jungmann’s performance at every level of the minor leagues has been closely watched and highly scrutinized. Many were shocked to see him called up to the majors after posting a 2-3 record with a whopping 6.37 ERA for AAA Colorado Springs. Maybe he was just bored? Jungmann has been among the best in baseball since getting the call in May. He is 4-1 in 7 starts and is sporting a 2.15, the best in the majors for a rookie starting pitcher. For a team that is looking towards the future, Jungmann could not have come up at a better time. His curve ball has been deadly, and his fastball is topping out around 96 MPH. Did I mention he’s only 25? Jungmann has almost certainly pitched his way to a permanent spot on this roster for the remainder of the year.
Runners up: Gerardo Parra, .309 BA, Michael Blazek, 1.60 ERA in 35 appearances
Biggest Disappointment: Kyle Lohse
It wouldn’t be analytical if I picked the entire team here, so I had to narrow it down to one player to represent my biggest disappointment of the year. For a player that was a solid presence in the Brewer’s rotation last year, Lohse’s struggles have difficult to comprehend, and even harder to watch. He has given up a league worst 74 runs, all earned. His biggest issue has been keeping the baseball in the ball park; Lohse ranks fourth worst in home runs allowed with 20, many of which have come at pivotal moments in close ball games. With Wily Peralta set to come back after the All Star break, Taylor Jungmann on an absolute tear, and Tyler Cravy showing flashes of greatness in a limited number of starts, it would be detrimental to the future of the ball club to keep Lohse in the in rotation much longer. If Doug Melvin could get anyone to bite on Lohse before the trade deadline, he’d be up for GM of the year in my book.
Runner Up: Matt Garza, 4-10, 5.55 ERA, owed $25 million over the next two years
Best Moment: Brewers come from behind win against Clayton Kershaw during Craig Counsell’s first game as manager
The firing of Ron Roenicke came at an odd time in the season. Many, myself included, thought that the Brewers should have fired him last October. Roenicke was fired Sunday evening, and Craig Counsell was announced as the new manager of the Milwaukee Brewers the next morning. What’s the best way to break in a rookie manager? How about having his team playing against the reigning MVP and Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw.
When a team is as bad as the Brewers, die hard fans are left to hope for glimpses of magic to remind them why they stick with teams through the bad times. Counsell’s first game had plenty of magic. Down 0-3 in the sixth inning, the Brewers chipped away at the deficit and eventually tied the game at 3 in the eighth inning, forcing Kershaw out of the game with Carlos Gomez on third base representing the go ahead run. Ryan Braun plated Gomez on an infield single that was under review for what felt like 10 minutes, and Francisco Rodriguez earned the save in the ninth. It was a come back win against one of the best in the business in Kershaw, and was the first time all year I felt excited while watching Brewers baseball.
Best Strategic Move: Sending Scooter Gennett to AAA, batting .307 since being recalled
Best Ball Park Addition: Credit card readers at all food stations
Most Sobering Moment: Brewers down 4-0 after the top of the first inning on opening day
Most Bizarre Injury: Scooter Gennett slashes hand in shower
That’s a wrap on the first half of the season, folks. As is customary in the world of unpaid sports journalism, I’m taking next week off because I want to. We’ll see you in two weeks!