With the return of potential power threat Eric Thames, the Milwaukee Brewers’ depth is continuing to grow as injuries clear up. The Brewers stand at the top of the NL Central with a 40-27 record on the season, claiming the highest winning percentage (.597) in the National League. The biggest crutch to the Brewers overall success this season has been the collection of crucial players that have hit the disabled list and their less than desirable rotation.
What’s Hurting In MIL?
The Brewers have maintained the top spot in the NL while being short some major pieces all season long. Starting pitching has been less than Milwaukee’s strength the past couple seasons.
There seemed to be room for improvement in this department when Jimmy Nelson was pushed from the 60-day to the 10-day DL. Unfortunately, it seems the rotation will have to see their strides continue without Nelson, as shoulder inflammation has pushed back his due date yet again. A similar story was seen from Wade Miley, who got a flat tire out off the starting line for the Brewers with 1.42 ERA in two starts. He is also on the 60-day DL assignment due to a right oblique strain. It’s clear that health in the rotation has certainly stalled the Brewers development in the rotation thus far.
Junior Guerra, Chase Anderson, and Brent Sutter are not names you’d like to choose from when even thinking of a single game NL Wild Card series. The Brewers should either seek a trade deadline move to add to the lackluster rotation. Or start praying that the return of Zach Davies can prove greater than his first impression on the 2018 season. (2-5, 5.23 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8 GS)
Can Brew Crew Bats Stay Hot?
Acquisitions in the offseason can only hope to have similar impacts on a roster as Milwaukee’s have this season. Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain came in to fill gaps in the Brewers roster and have done even more. Yelich’s slash-line to this point in the season has been impressive even with his brief stint on the DL (.307 BA, .859 OPS, 8 HR, 28 RBI). Milwaukee is appearing to still be on the right end of the 2016 Travis Shaw trade as the power numbers continue to roll in. Pitchers against Shaw have seen their ERA continue to spike with his early 14 HRs and 43 RBIs.
The power surge won’t stop there either if names such as Eric Thames and spot appearances from the still dangerous Ryan Braun can bring together larger numbers. Jesus Aguilar also created an early season impact for the Brewers. Milwaukee is hoping this isn’t a complete fluke as Aguilar’s stats in the past 30 games is not indicative to a continuing streak. (.248 BA, .326 OBP, .540 SLG)
Bright Bullpen Lights
The 2017 NL-All Star Corey Knebel went down early in the season and the Brewers had to scramble and find a stall. What they ended up finding was potentially the greatest surprise of the 2018 season. Josh Hader’s performance this season can be described nothing short of dominance. (72 K, 22 G, .703 WHIP, 1.22 ERA)
Hader is able to hit the triple digits with a fastball, yet remain a constant mystery with multiple breaking options. A perfect mold of the modern-day closer. But with Knebel returning to the closer role, it appears Hader will be pushed back to the set-up role alongside Jacob Barnes (2.08 ERA, 25 K, 24 G). The Brewers bullpen depth may be the reason for they’ve been able to stand tall in the NL thus far.
The question does remain if this will be enough to keep the Brewers in contention for a playoff run. While bullpens are appearing to be the future in turns of impact pitching down the road of a season, can a team like the Brewers with no true ace maintain this for the remaining 95?