The Sunday Cycle: A collection of four of my thoughts from the prior week of Brewers baseball
Current Record- 41-29, First Place- NL Central
Single- After taking two of three from the Mets in New York, the Brewers continued to struggle against the Cincinnati Reds, dropping two of their only three home games during this tough 18 game stretch. In the two losses, the Crew found themselves down four or more runs and battled back on both occasions to tie the game before failing to go ahead and eventually losing the lead for good. I’m not sure whether to be encouraged by their ability to climb back from such a significant margin, or their inability to use the momentum to take the lead and close the games. We’re starting to see some shaky arms out in the bullpen; I think the absence of a healthy Tyler Thornberg has had a very large effect on this pitching staff as a whole.
Double- After last night’s go ahead game winning home run in the 8th inning, nearly every headline summarizing the game read “Braun breaks out of slump in big way.” Unfortunately, it may not be the hit that turns things around for the struggling Braun, whose batting average is now below .285 for just the second time in the past five seasons (based on BA through 50+ games). Prior to today’s game, Braun had struck out in eight consecutive games, his longest such streak since September of his rookie year in 2007. Braun’s bat is so unbelievably critical to this team’s success that you’ve got to hope he starts to turn the corner soon. While a go ahead home run is what Braun needed to start turning things around at the plate, his 0-5 performance today leaves this Brewers fan concerned. Maybe a day off in Arizona is in order.
Triple- At the beginning of this year, Mark Attanasio shocked many by signing a big money pitcher in Matt Garza. He was quoted saying “This year, we decided to invest in the team because we decided we had talent. We’ll have the highest payroll in team history.” So far, the highest payroll in history has translated to the quickest run to 40 wins in franchise history. Since the incredibly successful start to the season, however, the Brewers have been hovering around .500 ball, and the Cardinals are knocking on the door at just 3.5 games back. As someone who has followed the Brewers closely for all of my post-pubescent life, I am confident in saying that this is the best team the Brewers have fielded during my lifetime. I do think, however, that Attanasio will need to make a big splash leading up to the July trade deadline. That big money, big-prospect costing move may need to come in the form of an ace starting pitcher, because….
HR- Marco Estrada has become a weak link in the Brewers rotation that can no longer be ignored. Estrada has been rocked for a league leading 23 home runs. To put that number into perspective, the next highest total in the majors for home runs allowed is 16. At this pace, Estrada would finish the year with 53 home runs allowed, which would be the highest total in the HISTORY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. All the while, Jimmy Nelson continues to dominate AAA batters, issuing just one earned run in his last 12 innings of work since winning his only start for the Brewers this year. Ron Roenicke has been known for sticking with pitchers for too long; with the Cardinals sneaking up in the NL Central standings, it’s time to give Nelson an extended stay in the majors and let Estrada work things out in the bullpen, or better yet in my opinion, in Nashville.