It’s no secret the the Milwaukee Brewers offense has been bad during the team’s 2-8 start to the 2015 season. Just how bad has our local nine been to start off the year? Entering today’s action, Milwaukee’s 2.6 runs per game, .102 ISO, and .605 OPS rank second last in the NL, and the team ranks last with just three home runs and one stolen base. The Brewers have been able to get runners on base lately, but are hitting just .211 with runners in scoring position.
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The Brewers lost again last night, this time falling to the Pirates 6-3 while the offense again sputtered. With Carlos Gomez now on the disabled list and Milwaukee getting desperate to find some kind of rhythm on offense, manager Ron Roenicke has made some major lineup changes before today’s game.
The biggest, most notable change is at the top of the order, where former MVP Ryan Braun will lead off for the first time in his eight year career. Braun has struggled out of the gates so far, hitting just .226/.250/.226 through his first 32 plate appearances with zero extra base hits and a nearly 19% strikeout rate. Braun’s lack of power is quite concerning to begin the year; all reports on his surgically repaired right thumb were good throughout a strong spring training, but his success has failed to carry over to the regular season. He did hit some long fly ball outs in last night’s game, so there is some hope that he can get things back on track in short order.
With lefty Jeff Locke on the mound for Pittsburgh, Adam Lind, Scooter Gennett, and Gerardo Parra will get the night off. Jonathan Lucroy will make his first start at first base this year, with Martin Maldonado behind the plate. Hector Gomez will start in place of Gennett, and Logan Schafer will get the start in centerfield. Why Roenicke decided to go with Schafer rather than Parra is a mystery to me; neither is very good against lefties, but Parra is a significantly better player than Logan, who probably shouldn’t even be in the majors. Seven of the Brewers’ eight starting position players will bat right handed against the left handed Locke.
Khris Davis will man the cleanup spot today, and he has been among the Brewers most consistent hitters to start the year. After a three hit game last night, Davis is up to .314/.368/.429 with four doubles, with his 123 OPS+ ranking among the best on the team. Davis has a history of success against lefties to this point in his young career, hitting 12 home runs and posting an .832 OPS in 191 plate appearances against southpaws.
The 2-8 Brewers will send Kyle Lohse to the mound to square off against the 4-6 Pirates tonight at 6:05 PM CST at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Lohse has struggled thus far in 2015, giving up 12 earned runs in just 9.2 innings pitched, including three home runs. Milwaukee will need a good performance from Lohse tonight as the new-look lineup tries to get the Brewers’ season headed back in the right direction here in the early going.