ESPN released their latest power rankings earlier today, and the Brewers made one of their biggest jumps of the year, climbing up all the way to No. 21 — three spots higher than where they were this week.
This has me happy. The Brewers have been playing well. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. Sweeping the Pirates, taking a series against the Cubs and splitting against the Cardinals are a huge success. It’s awesome seeing ESPN recognize the Brewers and reward the young guys for their tremendous work.
If you’ve read my comments going all the way back to the first edition, you’ll easily remember my goal for the year — break the top 20 at some point. The Crew currently finds itself sitting there and it’s fun watching them walk that line.
As noted in this week’s comments, Jonathan Villar continues to excel. It became evident in the middle of the year that he was carving out his 2017 roster spot early on. His productivity has only gone up since.
Also, who can name the other three Brewers players who have hit a home run from both sides of the plate? I’ll place the answer at the end of the article.
Keeping the spotlight on Villar, it’s really intriguing to sit back and look at just how productive he has been. His success has drummed up tabloids that the Brewers have reportedly been receiving interest in regards to Orlando Arcia. Now, you can count me as a hard no on trading the team’s No. 1 prospect (keep Villar at 3B), but it’s crazy to think that Villar, who was added to the roster as a waiver claim eons ago, has had his timeline extend this far.
Moving onto other topics, the Brewers’ bullpen came through in some clutch areas this week. While Corey Knebel has faltered for the most part, it was nice seeing him finally etch a win into his stats with a scoreless inning of relief against the Cubs.
Tyler Thornburg has continued to prove why he’s one of the most underrated bullpen arms in all of baseball. Since September 3, the right-hander has credited two saves and a win to his name. Looking back all the way back to August 30, he’s been heroic. A 10.80 K/9 headlines the stats by overshadowing a puny 1.35 BB/9. His ERA sits at 0.00. The crazy part? In this stretch, he has yet to allow a hit.
Thornburg has welcomed the closer role with open arms. It’s not easy having to change one’s approach like that — the skills needed to be a closer in the MLB are quite rigorous. However, Thornburg has taken the job and ran with it, making David Stearns look like a mastermind for not having dealt him at the deadline. It’ll be interesting to see how the Thornburg era continues. Will he continue his success as a closer into next season? If he does, do the Brewers keep him in Milwaukee for the rebuild? Or, do they send him to a contender if the market for relief pitcher is once again at an all-time high? Those questions won’t be answered for a very long time, but it’s still fun to speculate.
This is where I’ll leave you all — I’m currently typing from the UWM library and unfortunately, homework is calling my name.
Congrats to the people who guessed Ted Simmons, Dale Sveum (2x) and Jose Valentin!