With the 20% mark on the season having come and gone for the Brewers in their 2023 campaign, there has been a mixed bag of results. The season started great, with all phases of the team working together to push the Brewers toward the top of the MLB standings.
Since then, things have slowed down considerably. Brandon Woodruff isn’t overly close to returning. Garrett Mitchell is likely done for the year. Luis Urias just recently started running at 50%. Plus, the Brewers’ top prospect Sal Frelick is out for a few more weeks with a thumb injury. Although the injuries are only a part of the issues causing the Crew to lose six of their last seven, they definitely don’t help.
Let’s look at what has changed from the 10% season update a couple of weeks ago and which stretch of games is more likely to be the norm moving forward.
Brewers Run Production
This section was much more fun to fill out a couple of weeks ago. Since finishing off the sweep of the Mariners on April 19, the Brewers have averaged 3.8 runs per game. That’s 15 games of below-average offense after a blistering start. Milwaukee is now only ahead of the lowly Reds in the division in terms of runs scored.
Small ball was a huge part of the offensive success early in the season. People were getting on base, advancing in a myriad of ways, and scoring. The Brewers were keeping the batting order moving, and it was a thing of beauty, over the last 15 games, that has been far from the case. Strikeouts remain an issue for a team that can’t afford to give away so many at-bats.
After being ranked seventh in average and sixth in on-base percentage in the last update, things have dropped considerably since. Those rankings are now 17th and 16th. Even after a white-hot start, the Brewers’ offense is still below average at getting on base.
Players such as Brian Anderson, Brice Turang, and Jesse Winker have come crashing down to earth while Yelich and Adames continue to spin their wheels. The Brewers lacks a go-to bat, and the supporting cast has hit a drought. Getting healthy may not solve the issues, but it would as least give Craig Counsell more roster versatility to find a hot bat.
Although I don’t expect the Brewers to get back to the white-hot stretch they were on to start the year, I don’t think they are as bad as they’ve been over the last two-plus weeks. We’ll likely see them average out a bit as the season progresses. A healthy Urias or Frelick could do wonders as an injection of energy, but that may not happen until the 30 or 40% update.
The dominance of the bullpen early in the season was a huge part of the team’s success. Devin Williams was always expected to be the guy, but great starts from Brewers like Varland, Payamps, Milner, Strzelecki, and Bush can’t be overlooked. Since then, Varland has been hit by a comebacker, Bush has been placed on the IL, Milner has seen his ERA skyrocket, and fewer opportunities have been there for the closers.
Overall, the bullpen has still been good, at least the back end of it. The meltdown of Matt Bush before he was placed on the IL leaves a bad taste in our mouths but isn’t necessarily a sign of a bigger problem. Upon being called up, Jake Cousins looked much more like himself from his first two stints in Milwaukee.
As of May 6, the Brewers had blown five saves, with three of those coming from a player now on the IL. Although converting 64% of save opportunities doesn’t sound great, it’s not likely we’ll see the culprit of those blown saves back in that role upon returning healthy. Other players have proven to be more reliable, and the bullpen will be better for it.
Brewers Starting Pitching
Even though Woodruff continues to be out, starting pitching has been a major strength for this team. The return of Wade Miley has been a blessing as he leads the starters in ERA and WHIP while being tied for the team lead in wins and quality starts. He’s keeping the ball in the ballpark while eating up the second-most innings on the team.
After a slow start, Corbin Burnes has come back strong as of late. His strikeout numbers aren’t where you’d expect, and his walk number is less than ideal, but he’s a good enough pitcher to get outs while working through it. He and Freddy Peralta, along with Miley, have been key in keeping the rotation steady.
Lauer has struggled a bit, while young arm Colin Rae has been forced to make five starts. The return of Adrian Houser is a big boost, and the starting rotation is likely the driving force behind a successful season. Once Woodruff returns, which is still a ways off, the Brewers will have one of the best rotations in baseball. If the current group can hold things down, the Brewers will be in a good spot to win 60-70% of their games.
Overall, there was always going to be regression on the way from the offense. They started way too hot, and it wasn’t sustainable. With that said, there’s enough talent in the clubhouse offensively where the current rut isn’t likely to last. Getting players healthy will help, but in the long run, I don’t think this offense will be as bad as we’ve seen over the last 15 games.
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