Hand up, I have been critical of this team and organization. I didn’t think they had the talent this season to make a true push in the playoffs and thought selling off the right pieces would make more sense long term. I won’t lie and say I’ve changed my tune entirely. This roster still has a ton of holes but there are a couple of factors that give me hope.
With Brandon Woodruff back healthy and effective, the Milwaukee Brewers officially have their 3-headed monster back to kick off any potential playoff series. This team needs to get there first but three out of every five games, the Brewers will be in a solid position to win. That’s not even including pitchers like Wade Miley and Adrian Houser who have shown the ability to keep runs off the board.
The Crew is currently 1.5 up on the Reds for the division lead while also holding the tiebreaker. We haven’t seen great baseball over the last two weeks or so but getting Woodruff back could be the kind of jolt this team needs. The starting rotation was always going to be the part of the team that had to do the heavy lifting.
The offense has struggled as expected but having three starters with ace-caliber stuff is huge. If Milwaukee were to reach the playoffs, having Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta start a playoff series is a huge advantage. As we saw in 2021 against the Braves, pitching alone can’t win you a series, but it’ll keep you in it.
The Spark Plug
Not to toot my own horn, but I had been high on Sal Frelick well before the season started. Not because he was a highly-rated prospect, but because of what he brought to the offense. Everything he did last year that led to his immense rise through the Milwaukee Brewers system has been on full display since being called up.
What he’s done thus far is even more than I expected as he’s had to be the clean-up hitter when he’s better suited to be a one or two-hole hitter. The rookie has more walks than strikeouts so far resulting in a .435 on-base percentage. He also has six extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 16 games. He’s working counts and making hard contact which is not something non-Yelich-named players on this team can say.
For a small market team hoping to not only make the post-season but make a run, a late-season spark plug was a must. As much as I wanted to see Frelick with the club to start the season, this may end up better in the long run. Although against sub-par opponents, the offense has twice reached 12+ runs in their last five games. After not hitting double-digit runs for over a month, they’ve now done it twice in five games. The Frelick effect is real.
The Culture is Back
The Milwaukee Brewers clubhouse has long been one of the reasons why the team has had success. Although there have been star-type players here and there, the majority of the roster every year is filled with journeymen or players hoping for a rebound year.
Players with questionable statistical histories have proven to be successful in Milwaukee. I’m sure part of that could be coaching and putting them in the best situations to find success, but I think a big part of it is the team culture. For years we have seen players that genuinely look like they are having a great time playing baseball together.
Sure, this organization has won more than it has lost recently, but even during tough stretches, it feels like the team vibes are always pretty strong. Having a locker room full of players wanting to win for each other and that are locked in mentally for 162 games is huge.
We saw what happened after the trade deadline last year when the locker room is lost. The team fell apart over the last 2 months and missed the playoffs. A lot was said about how the Hader trade affected the team. That won’t be an issue this season as the front office added talent to try and fill holes.
Even if those additions aren’t world-beaters, the fact the impression of confidence is given from the front office speaks volumes. Between the smart trade deadline adds, a rotation with three electric arms, and a spark plug rookie, this Milwaukee Brewers team could very well outperform their talent levels come October.
For more Milwaukee Brewers content