The Sunday Cycle:
Current Record- 18-7, First Place- NL Central
Single- Still baseball’s finest, the Brewers continued their winning ways this week taking two of three from both the Padres and the Cubs. They were able to do this behind some stellar starting pitching performances, along with some timely home run hitting. All four wins featured both a home run from the bats, and a quality start from the pitching. Love it or hate it, power and pitching are going to be this team’s formula for success moving forward. When one shows up without the other, you get shut out by the Cubs.
Double– After attending Wednesday’s game and seeing Jonathan Lucroy get caught stealing for the third time this year, I was not surprised to find that the Brewers as a whole have been outright awful on the base pads this year. The Crew has been caught stealing eleven times, more than anyone in the league, and rank 30th in stole base percentage at 65%. This is a problem for a team and particularly a manager that led the NL in stolen base attempts last year.
Triple- Wei-Chung Wang pitched a 1-2-3 inning today in the ninth, so this point may be ill timed but I believe it still needs to be made. Can this team afford to keep Wang, who has never pitched above rookie ball until this year, on their 25-man roster? The rule-five draft choice must stay on the roster for the full year, or the Pirates are eligible to resign the promising prospect. With many thinking that this may be a playoff team, and the Brewer’s love for close games (10 out of 18 wins have been by two runs or less), the team is taking a big risk by sacrificing a roster spot in the name of potential future success. Well we may not know for many years what the best decision is, it is admittedly difficult for me to see the Brewers pick this year to go after their first rule-five draft pick since 2004, a year when they finished 67-94. (Side note, follow a Brewer’s reliever on twitter for #WCWW, aka Wei-Chung Wang Wednesday. Hilarious.)
HR- I reached out to a number of Brewers fans this week to ask what their “Key to the Crew” was for the Brewers to make the playoffs this year. I was hoping to make an entire cycle out of the responses, but nearly every response focused on the team staying healthy. Ironically, this weekend was the source of a number of mild, but important injuries. Ryan Braun inadvertently knocked Jean Segura in the head swinging his bat in the dugout (video: http://mlb.si.com/2014/04/26/video-jean-segura-bat-hit-head-ryan-braun-brewers/ ), then later exited the game himself with a right intercostal strain. Both players are day-to-day, but with Maldonado serving his suspension and Logan Shafer on the DL, we saw a very different Brewers team at the plate today. It’s unfortunate that the “Key to the Crew” seems to be largely out of anyone’s control, but the truth remains: injuries can quickly cripple a team. When you start to lose a couple of key players, you get shut out by the Cubs. Woof.