Following the Brewers 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks Sunday night, fans reacted on social media saying the team looks lifeless on their current stretch. While the Brewers certainly haven’t played up to expectations, they are only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card.
After the defeat, Brewers manager Craig Counsell had an answer for the struggling team. However, he may be asking for too much, too late.
Can the Brewers Play Consistently Enough?
Whether the Brewers will or won’t make the playoffs is a hard question to answer. Do they have enough to do it? Yes, they have a strong enough team, but the real issue is that they cannot play consistently this season.
Which is a problem, especially considering Craig Counsell stated “We have to play better baseball. We have to be more consistent. We have to string together wins. But there is absolutely time. No question about it.” Counsell is correct, there really is no time and they can’t afford multiple losses. There is no doubt the Brewers need to be more consistent as well to string together wins and take a lead on the Phillies and Padres.
September only gets harder for this team as well. The Cardinals (Twice), the Mets, and the Yankees this month for a large chunk of their remaining games. Some of the most valuable games in the hunt for a playoff spot will come against bitter rivals, the Cardinals, who seek to capture the division.
The Brewers Need to Play on the Same Page
Both offensively and defensively, the Brewers need to play more consistently. As Counsell pointed out, it is a team issue and not one specific position group. The Brewers will have to work on limiting runs and scoring them more consistently if they hope to make the playoffs.
Statistically, the offense isn’t doing much worse than last year. The team is close to reaching the same major stats, such as homers, batting average, and on base percentage, as they did in 2021. The issue, as mentioned in a previous article, in part is their consistency on offense which can be displayed through one specific stat. In baseball, wRC+ stands for weighted runs created, which measure the amount of runs a player creates and calculates other factors such as ballpark differences. The league average is 100, each point higher or lower is one percent higher or lower than the league average. The Brewers currently have 9 total players above 100, however, two of them are Hiura and Brosseau who haven’t played full seasons. This stat helps depict the consistency of a player as well and each percentage above or below indicates how often a player contributes or not.
The Brewers currently have four major, consistent contributors who are Hunter Renfroe, Keston Hiura, Christian Yelich, and Rowdy Tellez. Each of these players have a wRC+ over 110 and Renfroe and Hiura in particular are up towards 130. These are all frequent contributors to the team, but Hiura doesn’t play everyday and the team needs more. Jace Peterson is also a consistent contributor with a 113 score, but realistically the team needs more consistent offensive production, quick. Andrew McCutchen is at a 98, which is just below league average but it is due to some of his longer slumps this year.
Will the Hitting and Pitching Feed off Each other?
The reality of the situation is that the Brewers also need their pitching staff to pitch well. The team needs to play on the same page, consistently, down the stretch in order to secure a playoff spot. This year, the pitching has struggled to lock up batters since they are on track to give up more hits this year than 2021, as well as 30 more unearned runs. The defense also hasn’t been great behind the pitching, and it has been felt. Last year, the team was top 5 in nearly every pitching category. Now, they sit in the middle of the pack in most.
A Real Team Effort
The consistency will only happen as long as the pitching and defense are on the same page as the offense. There aren’t many stats that point out pitching consistency. However, even just looking at recent scores it is clear the Brewers have struggled. There are times where teams are only scoring 0-4 runs off the Brewers for a stretch, and then they are giving up 5-10 runs a game. The offense can’t guarantee they will score runs on the day the pitchers didn’t allow many runs, and vice versa. That has been by far the biggest issue for the team this year. But, there is no way to actually display it through stats which can be frustrating, because on paper the Brewers are a top team.
As Counsell said, it will come down to how consistent the team plays, and they are certainly running out of time. Hopefully the Brewers can catch a stride here and snag a playoff spot.