Current Record- 70-55, First Place- NL Central
Single- The Brewers front office has taken a lot of heat the past year for their low ranking farm system, and the lack of top 100 prospects currently working the minor leagues. While we all would love to have the Chicago Cubs farm system right now (and I mean that, that club is going to be ridiculous in a few years), a couple of tweets caught my eye this week highlighting the amount of key pieces in the Brewers current lineup that were home grown in their system. In no particular order, the Brewers drafted and developed current starters Ryan Braun, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, and Jonathan Lucroy, who have all been critical members of this first place team. On the pitching side, Yovanni Gallardo and recent call ups Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers are also all home grown players that are contributing to this team’s success. As someone who tends to have a short sighted view on the Brewers (go all in, right now, world series, this year), it makes me confident looking beyond 2014 to see a list of All Star caliber players that developed through the Brewers minor league system.
Double- As someone who appreciates good defense, I have been a supporter of the Brewers sticking with Jean Segura at shortstop all year. Outside of fielding percentage, there are very few ways to appropriately quantify good defense in the infield, but anyone who watches the Brewers frequently is well aware of Segura’s incredible range and absolute cannon of an arm. He is the best defensive infielder the Brewers have, without question. All that being said, I think the Brewers may need to start looking at other options should Segura’s bat stay this silent. His OPS of .586 is by far the worst of the Brewers typical position players, and he had collected just two hits in his last six starts prior to today’s game. Given that Segura typically bats after the strike-out prone Mark Reynolds, and right before the pitcher, many potential scoring rallies have been ended at his expense this season. While I would not advocate Elian Herrera taking over as a full time starter, I do feel there is some value to giving Hererra a couple of starts before September comes around, considering he has had two 3+ hit games in his last ten starts. With an OBP almost 40 points higher than Segura, it becomes tough to ignore Hererra even if you have to take a hit defensively. Perhaps some competition will be enough to break Segura out of what has become a season long slump; there’s no better time to get hot than September.
Triple- The Brewers swept the Dodgers for just the third time in franchise history, and overtook Los Angeles as the NL’s winningest team after one of their most important and impressive series of the year. The starting pitching was phenomenal, turning in three quality starts in as many games courtesy of Jimmy Nelson, Yovanni Gallardo, and Mr. 15 Wins, Wily Peralta . The bats were able to do just enough on Friday during a five-run eight inning rally capped by a bases clearing double from Lyle Overbay. On Saturday, the Crew relied on home runs from Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez to beat the undisputed best pitcher in the game, Clayton Kershaw, who admitted to being “out pitched” by Yovanni Gallardo after his 11-game winning streak came to an end. To finish off the series, Jonathan Lucroy plated five runs in the first two innings to give his team a comfortable lead that they would ride all the way to the end, handing the Dodgers their first three-game series sweep of the year. There’s no question about it, folks, this was a statement series against a playoff caliber team, and the Brewers were able to take three straight on the road as they continue to defend their narrow first place lead in the Central. Which leads me to my final point this week…
Home Run- Today marks the 145th straight calendar day that the Brewers have been in first place in their division. With 37 games left in the regular season, the Brewers hold a three game lead over the second place Cardinals, and they could not have picked a better time to get hot than right now. Many have said that this is a mediocre team that is only in first because of their red hot April, and yet here we are in August and the Brewers are showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the Brewers have a higher winning percentage since the All Star Break (.586) than they did before (.552), and they’ve done it playing six out of the nine series against teams above .500 (including three series victories against likely playoff teams in the Giants and the Dodgers). Even with two of their best starting pitchers currently sidelined with injuries, the Brewers have found a way to battle and grow their divisional lead. They’ve beaten Cy Young caliber pitchers, have won important series against very good teams, and have been a first-place team for five months running. They are a very good ball club, capable of doing some very good things. Now that we’ve passed the mid-way mark in August, anything less than a divisional win will certainly be considered a disappointment. The Brewers have given us no reason to believe they won’t close it out strong and make a very real push for Milwaukee’s first pennant since 1982.