The Mid-Season Sunday Cycle: The rights, the wrongs, and the surprises from the first half of this historic season’s Sunday Cycles.
Current Record- 51-33, First Place- NL Central
Single- I was wrong when… I stated that Scooter Gennett deserved to be the everyday second basement, and that Rickie Weeks was on the way out of Milwaukee. Scooter has definitely been the better of the two- his .311 BA is good for 7th in the league, and he has out played Weeks defensively with 5 errors in 59 games started compared to 4 for Weeks in 25. So why shouldn’t he be starting every game? I think the reason Scooter is seeing so much success at the plate is because he’s being put in position to succeed by his manager. Gennett is a lifetime .338 hitter against righties on the mound, but posts a .143 average against left handers. That split has held true into this season. By playing Rickie Weeks against lefties, Ron Roenicke is giving Scooter a chance to get comfortable during his first full season in the major leagues. Give credit to Rickie, too- his .273 average is the second best in his career, which is impressive given that he’s sitting two of every three games. Week’s veteran presence is going to be crucial if this young club tries to chase a pennant, especially in pinch hit situations; I’m pleased with the parlay at this point in the season and glad that Weeks is still in a Brewers uniform.
Double- I’ve been pleasantly surprised that… this team has moved away from its overwhelming reliance on dominant starting pitching in April, and has actually turned into one of the better hitting teams in the major leagues. I stand by my statement in April that this is one of the best top to bottom rotations the Brewers have seen in a long time. Their 55 quality starts are good for second in the majors, and the pitching staff has allowed the third fewest walks in the National League. The bullpen, however, has been drained and is showing signs of cracking lately. They are pitching man-down with the whole Wei-Chung Wang situation, and one of their best, Tyler Thornberg, has been sidelined during the month of June with elbow soreness. The Brewers needed to take the pressure off their pitching staff, and have done just that by becoming one of the hardest hitting teams in the majors. They have the second most hits of any team and own the fourth best team batting average. Their early reliance on the long ball has also disappeared, with Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, and Gennett all posting batting averages in the top 10 in the NL. Given the success of the bats, the attention turns back to the pitching staff, whose degree of success will be the difference between a wild card team, and a world series contender. If Yovanni and Matt Garza settle into the second half, and Kyle Lohse continues his winning ways, this team could have the makings of something special.
Triple- I think we were all right when… we said staying healthy was going to be incredibly important for the Brewers to continue winning at their current pace. The Brewers join the Pirates as the only teams in the majors that have not had a player land on the 60-day DL with a season jeopardizing injury. At this point, only Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornberg are sidelined on the 15-day DL for the Brewers. Short 15-day DL stints by Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez led to three important weeks of .500 baseball for the Brewers, who relied on some of the best pitching of the year to get by and stay on the top of the division. Other than those days in May, it’s been pretty much full strength for the first half of the season. This is not a team with a ton of depth- healthy starters are going to be critical if the front office does not make the move to acquire a solid bench player before the July 31st trading deadline (something I believe they should, and will try to do).
HR- Nobody could have predicted that… this team would be where they are today. They have more wins than any team in the major leagues, they have the best 81-game mark in the history of the franchise, and they have a 6.5 game lead on an NL Central that still features some of the better teams in the NL. They have solid pitching, a lineup that is dangerous from top to bottom when hot, and they consistently play solid defense. They make teams pay for making mistakes, and have proven resilient with 25 come-from-behind wins. Before the season started I predicted an 86-win season good for a wild-card spot; now I think everyone in Milwaukee, myself included, is dreaming of the first world series appearance since 1982.