The Brewers pulled off, arguably, their most impressive win of the season Monday night in St. Louis. Trailing 3-0 in the 7th inning against a dominant Michael Wacha, the Brewers plated three runs to tie the game. The bullpen kept the Cardinals offense scoreless for six innings from there on out, with a Khris Davis RBI triple giving the Brewers the go-ahead run in the 12th.
Possibly the most impressive aspect of the win was that it was accomplished without Ryan Braun and Jean Segura. By the end of the game, four players were playing out of their normal position, yet they still managed to beat a stingy Cardinals team.
What the Brewers emerged with to go along with a win was a serious roster clutter. A team already facing problems with injuries and a fatigued bullpen was the recipient of….more injuries and a more fatigued bullpen on Monday in St. Louis.
With Aramis Ramirez now day-to-day with a bruised left elbow, the Brewers are effectively playing with 22 healthy players. The timetables for the return of Braun and Segura are still unclear, and it’s unlikely that we will see either of them in the St. Louis series. Unexpected to play in Tuesday’s game, the Brewers will be playing with two healthy bench players (and no reserve outfielders). Expect to see a lineup with Mark Reynolds at third, Jeff Bianchi at shortstop, Lyle Overbay at first, Martin Maldonado at catcher (to give Lucroy a day off), and Elian Herrera in right.
On top of that, one thing we’ve deduced from this first month of the season is that Wei-Chung Wang is to be used in literally only the lowest-leverage situations possible. In the event of a game that is within three or four runs (which the Brewers basically specialize in this year, right, K-Rod?), the Brewers are effectively playing with a 21-man roster.
Wang presents a perplexing situation for the Brewers. Right now, with the Brewers competing, it’s tough to see a roster spot used on someone who only pitches three times a month. But Wang is a special case. He just turned 22 last Friday, had never pitched higher than rookie ball, hit 96 mph on the radar gun in his last appearance, and, as a Rule 5 draft waiver pickup, would be lost if designated for assignment.
At this point, it’s difficult to see the Brewers letting him go after only a month of their case study. But going forth, it’s going to become important for the team to find out what they really have in Wang. That won’t come right away, but on a team that looks like a serious competitor (yes I said it), is Wang the best use of a roster spot, both in the present and the future?
Another roster spot the Brewers may want to look at to resolve the clutter is Rickie Weeks. The team is clearly going in the direction of Scooter Gennett now and Weeks has been relegated to occasional pinch hitter (even though you can still vote for him for the All Star Game). Since April 12, he’s started two games–less than Herrera and Maldonado, who was suspended five games. When Logan Schafer comes back, there sure could be both positives and negatives for keeping or demoting Weeks at this point.
The good news to emerge from all of this is that the Brewers showed their legitimacy on Monday night with a 21-man win over the Cardinals. The bullpen, though slightly overworked, has been dominant. Looking back at who was in last night’s game during extra innings almost makes you seriously wonder how the Brewers pulled that game off.
Here’s a reason how they won it: this team is for real.