The Brewers are just about 10% through the 2023 season and things have gone better than expected. The Crew have the second best record in the N.L. at 11-5 and the second best run differential in all of baseball at +28. Even though many were optimistic about the Brewers this season, it has been an impressive start. I want to touch on a few things that have led to this great start and circle back on an article I wrote before the season started.
Last season was frustrating at times because it seemed like the Brewers rarely produced runs without a home run. Although they have hit 20 bombs so far this season, the team is doing a much better job of producing runs overall. Players at all spots of the lineup are getting on base. Once on base, many are looking to advance. Although the team strikeout numbers are high, the Crew are also near the top of the league in walks.
Being seventh in average and sixth in on base percentage is a beautiful change of pace for a team that has struggled to put up runs without hitting the ball over the fence. Brian Anderson has been a great run producer so far simply by putting the ball in play. Mike Brosseau and Jesse Winker have been doing much of the same while Adames and Yelich lead the team in hits and walks. It’s been a team effort as Milwaukee doesn’t have that one superstar bat.
We all expected the Brewers starting rotations to be good, but the bullpen had a few more questions marks. After a handful of years of Josh Hader anchoring the bullpen, this year was Devin Williams’ opportunity. So far, he’s been perfect. He only has two saves but has yet to allow a run and he isn’t alone as Peter Strzelecki is also perfect through seven innings. Add on top of that great starts from Joel Payamps (2.84 ERA), Gus Varland (2.70 ERA), Hoby Milner (4.50 ERA) and Matt Bush (3.86 ERA). Although the names may be new, the bullpen is just as effective as seasons past, if not more so.
Young Bat Update
The start of the season was incredible for rookies Brice Turang and Joey Wiemer, along with youngster Garrett Mitchell. Although they have cooled off since blistering starts, we are seeing Mitchell and Turang settle into numbers we should expect moving forward. If Mitchell and Turang bat .286 and .273 the rest of the season, we should be ecstatic.
Wiemer has struggled to get hits but his 7/12 walks/strikeout ratio is incredible for a hitter that struggled with it early in his career. His power is there, it’s only a matter of time until the hits come. As long as he can stay disciplined at the plate, he’ll continue to earn consistent at bats.
The success of this season was always going to hinge on two things. The health of the starting rotations, and the success of the under the radar off season additions. So far, both have been good. Brian Anderson has cooled off a bit but he has been spectacular for the Crew so far this season. He’s been getting on base and drive runs in. That’s as good as you can ask for from a guy that has battled injuries the last couples of seasons and is extremely inexpensive.
We also can’t forget to mention trade acquisitions William Contreras and Jesse Winker. Contreras was viewed by virtually everyone as a good move but he’s still been great. He leads the every day players in batting average and on base percentage. The guy just makes contact and gets on base. Winker has been doing much of the same as he’s hitting .300 and limiting his strikeouts. As long as he can stay healthy, he should continue to produce for this team.
Starting Pitching Health
The loss of Brandon Woodruff definitely hurts as he was off to a great start to the season. There hasn’t been an exact time table set on when he might be back but it’s unsettling to hear him say this is the kind of injury that could shut him down for the season if it happened around the all star break. Fortunately, the Brewers have depth as Peralta and Miley have been great so far and Burnes seems to have found his stride after a rough start.
If Lauer can pick things up and a young arm can eat innings every fifth day, this team should be able to survive until Woodruff is back. The offense putting up runs more consistently helps the pitchers in a big way, especially knowing they have a deep bullpen behind them.
The Brewers have proven they can find young arms that can step up when injuries pop up. They don’t have many exciting starters in the minors that are close to MLB ready but if the team is looking for a long term solution, Robert Gasser could be their guy. He’s had a solid start to the season in AAA but needs to improve his command.
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