Milwaukee Brewers Off To Worst Start in Franchise History

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With their 5-2 loss yesterday to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers fall to 2-10 on the short season, their worst start in franchise history.  They also fall to 1-5 against the Pirates, a team that they have traditionally dominated, and the Pirates are only 1-5 in their other 6 games; talk about preying on the weak.

The Brewers have started 3-9 three times prior to this, in their 47 years of existence, and 4-8 four times.

  • 1970 – started 3-9 and finished 65-97
  • 1972 – started 3-9 and finished 65-91
  • 2002 – started 3-9 and finished 56-106
  • 1984 – started 4-8 and finished 67-94
  • 2003 – started 4-8 and finished 68-94
  • 2009 – started 4-8 and finished 80-82
  • 2013 – started 4-8 and finished 74-88

Slow starts in the past have obviously not been a recipe for success as they have never finished over .500; with their closest attempt ending up at 80-82. In the three most fundamental aspects of baseball; pitching, batting, and fielding, the Brewers are failing at all three, but just how bad is it?

PITCHING

Entering Monday, the Brewers have a team ERA of 4.76, which ranks 28th out of 30 teams in the Majors, and 14th out of 15 in the National League. MLB average ERA for all 30 teams is 3.78 and the NL’s average is 3.53. They have given up 65 runs in the 12 games; only the Rangers (66) and the Marlins (65) are at or below that amount, and both of those teams have played an extra game. Opposing hitters are batting .286 against Brewers pitching; only the Rangers (.290) have a worse batting average against.

Brewers starting pitchers haven’t been able to pitch deep into their starts. The Brewers only have 2 quality starts, which is tied for the least amount with the Yankees. It’s been so bad that Brewers opening day starter, Kyle Lohse, gave up 6 earned runs in 6 innings in their 6-2 loss to the Pirates on Saturday, and LOWERED his ERA to 10.34 (and dropped his record to 0-3 in 3 starts).

Combined ERA for Brewers starting pitchers is 5.78, with Jimmy Nelson as the only bright spot with an ERA of 1.50. Their combined WHIP is 1.49, that’s a lot of baserunners clogging up the base paths every inning. Brewers starters have combined for 9 of the 10 Brewers losses on the season.

Relief pitching has been a bit of a bright spot for the Brewers, with the exception of Jonathan Broxton.  Their relief pitching has a combined ERA of 2.92, with all but one of them having ERA’s at 3 or below (Broxton is at 9.64). In 37 innings pitched they have 37 strikeouts, and their combined record is 0-1, as they are usually behind too far to mount a comeback. Combined WHIP for the bullpen is 1.19, which is much more reasonable than the starter’s combined WHIP.

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BATTING

It is no secret that the Brewers bats have yet to heat up. Through 12 games they have scored just 30 runs (2.5 runs per game), hit 3 home runs (with nobody having more than 1), have 28 RBI, 120 total bases, have an on-base percentage of .267, a slugging percentage of .303, and an OPS of .570.  All of these statistics rank dead last in all of Major League Baseball. Their team batting average is .217, which ranks better than only the Astros (.202), Rangers (.211), and the Phillies (.212).

There are 38 players in the MLB who have 3 home runs or more, with Nelson Cruz leading baseball with 8.  The Brewers have combined for just 2 stolen bases (both belonging to Jean Segura). Billy Hamilton of the Reds leads the league with 8, and a total of 48 players have 2 or more steals on the season (including Segura).

When Brewers runners do get into scoring position, Brewers hitters have had an even harder time knocking them in. With runners in scoring position, the Brewers are batting a combined 17-80, for a .213 average.  Their 3-4-5 hitters (normally) of Ryan Braun, Adam Lind, and Aramis Ramirez are a combined 4-18 with RISP (Braun 2-7, Lind 1-5, and Ramirez 1-6) for an average of .222. Carlos Gomez does have 5 hits in 9 at-bats with RISP, but currently sits on the DL.

FIELDING

The Brewers have combined for 12 errors and a .973 team fielding percentage.  The Padres (12) and the Nationals (14, .971) are the only teams at or below the Brewers marks. Only Ian Desmond of the Nationals (8) has more errors than Segura (5), and Khris Davis is tied for the most errors as an outfielder with 2.

Brewers catchers have been pretty decent at throwing out would-be base stealers. Jonathan Lucroy has thrown out 4 of 10 and Martin Maldonado has thrown out 1 of 2. Both of these marks rank in the top 15 for any catcher that has played this season.

So, combine bad pitching with bad hitting and poor fielding and what do you get? A 2-10 start. The Brewers simply can’t do anything right and it is very frustrating to watch. Usually when a team can’t get it going, it’s the Manager that pays the ultimate price, and Ron Roenicke should be getting nervous.

The Brewers welcome in the Reds for a 4-game series, beginning tonight at 6:20. Wily Peralta will take the mound against Anthony DeSclafani.

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