Thursday, August 24, 2023

The Brewers Earn Their Keep


After several months of bobbing around first without overwhelmingly leading the division, the Milwaukee Brewers are finally playing like a first place team. They just swept the Texas Rangers, leveling them even further as the Mariners and, I suppose, Astros close in behind them. They just took two games against the Twins, and now head towards two wild card competitors that are relatively hot right now, the Cubs and Padres. Even if it's not a high mark for division leaders, the Brewers have won 70 games, are 13 games over .500, and are in the best shape they've been in all season.

One of the issues with this Brewers team has been the lack of surefire hitting among many starters, including rookies Joey Wiemer and Brice Turang, as well as the lack of true power options in the absence of Rowdy Tellez. The deadline did bring Carlos Santana, who has 6 homers already. He doesn't seem to be as outwardly powerful as he was in Pittsburgh, but he's been a relatively reliable source of power hitting, and that's definitely what they needed. And seeing as Tellez has just returned from the IL, having him AND Santana bulking up the lineup is definitely the power boost you need, even if you still have Adames and Yelich hitting for power amicably.

What's also started happening is that Turang and Wiemer are finding other roles to play in this team aside from their defense. Turang has 17 steals, which isn't bad at all. The real issue is he's not even succeeding as a contact guy, as he only has 70 hits in 103 games, but he's got 29 RBIs in this time, and he's capable of decent hitting, just not as reliably as some other pieces. Wiemer, meanwhile, has 40 RBIs and 13 homers in 113 games, which is better. The defense stuff does make a lot of it worth it, and I'd say they're both better than people like Taylor Walls or Esteury Ruiz who refuse to even hit anything, but they're clearly both at the start of their careers. Adversely, Sal Frelick's only been up for 26 games and he's hitting .250 with 16 RBIs and 3 homers, in addition to his eye-popping defense. Some people just take to it earlier than others.

The most relieving thing about this team is that after all the struggles they had with covering rotation spots due to injury, the Brewers' arrangement of Burnes-Woodruff-Peralta-Miley-Houser is actually doing really well right now, and powering through as they should have if the injuries hadn't happened. Woodruff has struck out 18 and lowered his ERA to 2.89 since returning from the IL, and he seems like he's back to normal. Burnes is still having a nice year, 9-6 with 160 Ks, only outdone by Freddy Peralta with 168. The bullpen also looks awesome, with the only weak link being Andrew Chafin, who it's become clear that the Diamondbacks honestly shouldn't have given up. Lots has fallen into place for the Brewers, making it all the more believable that they could stay surging for the next month.

The goal for this Brewers team is to not fumble this Padres series so that by the time they get to Chicago the Cubs are in position to take the division. As good as the Brewers have been, the Cubs are sneaky, can catch fire without warning, and arguably have more pieces in place than the Brewers this year. It's gonna be a battle of who can outlast the other's flickering momentum, and it could be either one.

Coming Tomorrow- Ohhh man did I time this one poorly. Not in a Wander Franco kinda way, nothing that bad, but uh....this guy sure did get lit up today...

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