Oh yes, it's that time again. It's been a rough season for the Brewers and an even harder one for the fans. But, to much of the fan's credit, they are still showing up at Miller Park to show their support. If you gave up mid-season, than you missed a lot. Zack Greinke was traded to the Angels, George Kottaras was traded to the A's, and we just recently released veteran pitcher Randy Wolf. Let's take a look at the rest. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Ryan Braun is good at baseball. This should come as much as a surprise. But, for the 3rd time in a row, Braun has made the Good list when it came for review time of the Crew. Ryan ranks number one in the National League in home runs, tied for 1st in RBIs, ranked 7th in batting average, number one is slugging percentage, and ranked 2nd in OPS. Since July 13th, Ryan has 10 HR, 24 RBI, batting just over the .300 mark. Ryan did have a mini slump in the beginning of August, but all it took was a little extra batting practice to fix what was wrong, as he belted 4 HR in 3 days after his slump. Ryan has already surpassed his HR mark from last year, as he just hit his 34th HR of the year. I don't have any doubts that Ryan will not qualify for the Good list for a 4th time this season.
Carlos Gomez's recent surge. This should come as no surprise. Gomez has been great since the All-Star break. Counting from July 13th to present day, Gomez has racked up 7 HRs, 16 RBI, 25 R, 13 SB, while batting just around .280 in that span (34/121). To put things into perspective of how hot Gomez is right now, 34 of his 72 hits have come in the past two months. Every home run he hits is a new career high. His previous was 8, which he set last season. He is currently at 12, and is showing no signs of slowing down either. He's batting .254 after regulation on August 22nd, which is .009 higher than his career average of .245. With the many outfielders on our roster, as well as the ones ready to come up soon, Gomez is making a case why he isn't expendable.
Don't call it a comeback, Rickie Weeks. I know, He's still not batting at the level he should. In his defense, it's hard to get a respectable batting average after digging himself such a deep hole. But, if you just sit down and watch a few of these games, you can just tell that he is seeing the ball so much better and he is more comfortable at the dish. Let's look at a few games to be specific. August 10th vs. Astros. In this game, Weeks went 3 for 4 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI. Now, what I want to point out is that these doubles were all ripped down the left field line bounced once or twice and hit the wall. These balls were smoked of his bat. This is a good sign that his back foot, which was hurt last year, is probably at 100%. The second game I want to look at is arguably Weeks' best hitting performance of the season. It came against Philadelphia on July 25th. Weeks went 4 for 4 with 2 singles to left, and infield single to SS, and a HR. He also was hit by a pitch and he stole a bag. Weeks' stolen base numbers have never really been high over his career, but his stolen base numbers this year (8) are down compared to his career average (12).
Honorable mentions: Corey Hart has continued to be outstanding at 1st base, although his bat has been off and on throughout the end of July and all through August. Aramis Ramirez has done the exact same on the other side of the infield, flashing a great glove over at 3rd base this year. 2 Gold Gloves on their way for the Brewers' infield? I sure hope so. The tandem of Jonathon Lucroy and Martin Maldonado has been something special to watch. There is never a weak spot in the lineup when it comes to our 2 catchers. It will be nice to have in the years to come. Yes, I have to name a few people from the bullpen. Kameron Loe has been absolutely lights out lately, and it deserves some attention. Since the All-Star break, Loe has only given up 4 earned runs, 0 home runs, 16 strike outs and only 5 walks with 1 save. He has also forced He has also forced 31 ground balls since the ASB, and over 90% have been outs. He has a 1.13 ERA in August. Minus one hick-up, Jim Henderson has also been very good out of the bullpen.
Nyjer Morgan's base-running. His bat is starting to come around, but his mental errors continue to keep him on the bench. I'm not for sure what the direction of our outfield is for next season, but Nyjer isn't really making a great case for him to return next season. I understand that no one is perfect and that mistakes happen, but how many times can you really allow it to happen before you finally just say enough is enough?
Ron Roenicke's pinch hitting decisions. Cody Ransom should never pinch hit for anyone other then a pitcher, and even that is a stretch. A pitcher should never pinch hit for a position player, ever. And, recently it happened, also. I'm not sure if it's just that Ron doesn't care anymore or what, but some of his decisions have made me scratch my head lately. But, what do I know?
The Bullpen: I really can't say much to you that you all haven't already heard. It's not frustrating anymore. It's not excusable anymore. Hell, it's not even comical anymore. You have your Curse of the Bambino, the Curse of the Billy Goat, Steve Bartman, and then you have the giant cloud that is sitting over our bullpen this season. If my numbers are right, the Brewers bullpen has blown 23 games this season. Whether they were one run games or seven run games, 23 games have been blown this season. That is really inexcusable. A team is expected to have a few blown every year. Usually anywhere between 6-10. But, 23 is just outrageous. It got so bad that Ron went to closer by committee, and that didn't even work. Since then, Axford has been reinstated as our closer. And, hopefully, just maybe our bullpen can finish off the year strong.
To wrap things up, minus the Brewers' record and all of the disappointment with our relief pitching, there was actually a lot of good to talk about this time around. It's funny how the game of baseball works. You can have so much go right, but one thing can effect your entire season. Our offense has been great this past month. Our starting pitching for the most part has been getting the the job done. Mike Fiers has struggled a bit lately, but it happens. Gallardo has been lights out as of late. Mark Rogers and Marco Estrada are coming around as they both earned their first wins of 2012. Finally, Shaun Marcum will be returning for the Brewers this weekend vs. Pittsburgh.Our defense has been really good this year. It's just our bullpen that hasn't kept up to par with the rest of our game this year to keep us in contention. I think the focus for the Brewers at this point is push to end at .500 and to ruin a few team's postseason chances.
Until next time, Beers, Brats, and Championships.
-Andrew Vrchota (@WSB_Andrew)
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