In recent posts I had offered up some hope for the Brewers due to a softer May/June schedule and a suggestion to manager Ron Roenicke that he shake up the lineup a little in the hopes of increasing offensive production and perhaps creating a spark the team could carry through this next month.
Well they played the worst team in baseball last weekend and the coach trotted out a different lineup every day. That was followed by three more games at home against San Francisco, a team that makes the Brewers offensive struggles seem minimal.
They went 2-4. So is anything going to work to get this team going? Tradition would tell you that a seven-game west coast trip is not going to be the thing that cures what ails them.
This got me to thinking about what is really wrong with this team. They are definitely streaky and that leads to droughts on offense before they might explode for a double-digit run total for a game. They are not the best defensive team and they seem to make an inordinate amount of outs on the base baths particularly in scoring positions.
There have been two cases each lately of a runners being out at third and home. The two at third base were runners coming from second on groundballs to third. You don't run into a ground ball in front of you! You just don't do it so why on earth does a professional baseball team do it twice in a week?
There have also been two occasions where a runner from third was going on contact. This is a standard play for many teams that if the batter puts the ball in play you are scoring. The problem in both cases was that the defense was playing in. Normally in that event you would change the play to wait until the ball gets through.
The dramatics of the end of last season could be doubled this season with the additional wildcard team. St. Louis got in on the last day as did Tampa Bay while Atlanta and Boston fans couldn't believe what had just happened. Making basic mistakes like the poor base-running and/or strategy will cost you a game or two along the line. The awful start to this season has already put the team behind so there is a certain need to clean this type of stuff up to not waste any more games.
The funny thing is as I write this I can’t help but think that these are the same issues the team faced last year and yet they won 96 games. The main difference between last year and this one? Pitching.
Gallardo and Greinke have had some good outings of late but also have had some implosions. The rest of the staff has been inconsistent and overall they rank 26th in terms of ERA in the Major Leagues. Only Colorado has a worse team ERA in the National League. The inability of the starters to go late into games this season has caused the bullpen to work more often and earlier. During last season’s second half run it was common for the starters to work into the 6th or 7th innings before the combination of Hawkins/Saito, K-Rod and Axford would close the door. This year the team has had to hope guys like Dillard, Perez and Chulk could bridge the gap and they have failed.
Rickie Weeks could go on a month-long tear and hit 15 HRs and be on base constantly, Aramis Ramirez could awake form his slumber and somebody could step up and take the first base job. Nyjer Morgan could find his alter ego again and Ryan Braun would finally have some others to help him besides the streaky Corey Hart and blossoming Jonathon Lucroy.
The team could mash its way out of this as evidenced by their NL rank of second in HR’s and fifth in runs scored. The fact that they are fifth in runs despite all the offensive struggles tells you they are a very capable team on offense.
But will any of that matter if the team has the worst pitching staff in the National League that doesn’t play a Mile High?