It’s another week, which means another edition of ESPN Power Rankings. This week, the Brewers make the list at the No. 26 spot, one place behind where they sat seven days ago. Here are my comments for week No. 2:
Despite being throttled by the Cardinals’ offense for 10 extra-base hits in a game and Jaime Garcia one-hitting them in another, the Brewers still held a .500 record through 10 games. Development of young talent still remains at the forefront of hopes and expectations for this team, but Brewers fans will gladly accept any wins they can get. – Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3), Disciples of Uecker
Basically, the point I was attempting to make was that this team is not as putrid as many have believed they would be (at least in my opinion). Sure they are currently two games below .500, but be honest: Did you think that would be the case at the beginning of the season? I know I didn’t. I predicted this team would be good enough to reach a win total ranging in the mid-70’s, and I’m confident they’ll reach that.
Jimmy Nelson produced another solid outing, going six innings and only allowing four hits against the Pirates. He came away with the win, boosting his record to 2-1. His ERA is now at a quite respectable 2.79. He is separating him self as the Brewers “ace” in the rotation (Note, the Brewers version of an ace is different than other team’s).
Domingo Santana continues to excite me from the leadoff spot. Many feared he might lose a little bit of his power by moving to the No. 1 spot in the order, but that hasn’t been the case. It seems as if him hitting a ball over 100 MPH has become a routine. He also went yard for a go-ahead ninth inning HR against the Cardinals. All in all, you have to appreciate the work he’s producing out of the top spot.
Perhaps the best part of the week was when Ryan Braun silenced boos raining down on him from the Pittsburgh crowd with not just one, but two home runs. These weren’t just any ordinary home runs either. They were missiles. Braun exhibited the ideal swing that coaches preach to middle school kids in the batting cage. Extend your arms and square up with the ball so it goes past the L-screen and hits the back netting. That’s the exact swing Braun put on the ball and he bulleted a pair of dingers over the center field wall.
Obviously, the struggle that remains for the Brewers is finding a consistent flow of offense. It seems to be going in and out. In a nutshell, they can never be relied on to have a solid outing. The team clunked to a season-low against Jaime Garcia, who thrilled the St. Louis crowd with a dazzling one-hitter. All the credit goes to Garcia, who was simply on his game (especially his changeup). Take a look at the absolutely filthy movement he inflicted on Brewers hitters:
We can preach all we want about plate discipline and refusing to swing at pitches outside of the zone. However, an integral part of plate discipline is recognizing the good pitches to swing at, and Milwaukee missed many opportunities against Garcia (especially first pitch strikes). As we all know, this Brewers team is extremely young and developing positive habits and tendencies seems as if may be troublesome.
Wily Peralta and Taylor Jungmann also continue to struggle. I’m more devastated about Wily’s start to the year. I had high hopes for him coming into the season but it’s beginning to look as if he doesn’t have it. Obviously he didn’t see my mini-rant in last week’s comments. I still have a small amount of hope that he can turn things around by establishing a strong combination with his fastball and slider, but time is ticking. A trip to the bullpen may become a viable option soon. Regarding Jungmann’s performance, I’ll go no further than saying what I said in my comments to ESPN: 10 extra base hits from the Cards.
Oh yeah, and you remember how Scooter seemed to have an epiphany against left-handed pitching to begin the year? I kid you not, he hit a home run off Madison Bumgarner. Yeah, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. Unfortunately, it appears that may have been a fluke — that home run has been his only hit against lefties this season. He now sits at one hit in 15 plate appearances, accounting for a .111 batting average. Now, I will compliment Gennett on this: He has drawn six walks against lefties. However, in order to see improvement, he needs to start putting the bat on the ball more frequently against southpaws.
All we can ask for from this team is a will to compete (along with development, which you are all realizing is the word I’m preaching to describe this season). This upcoming stretch features two of the worst teams in baseball in the Twins and Phillies. I’ll set my goal for the Crew to come away with at least four of the seven games. However, it’s crazy to think that the Brewers are just three wins away from sitting over .500 for the first time since the final game of the 2014 season.