The Milwaukee Brewers season so far has been nothing short of a disaster. Expectations were tempered coming into the season given last fall’s brutal collapse, but the consensus around Milwaukee seemed to be that the Brewers could compete for a Wild Card spot if things broke their way. However, the season has quickly nose-dived, as the Brewers have found themselves sitting at an MLB worst 2-11 after their loss to the Cincinnati Reds last night, the team’s sixth loss in a row. The Brewers have scored the fewest runs of any team in the league, and their pitching hasn’t helped them out either, producing just two quality starts in 13 games (both of which, incidentally, led to Brewers wins). With Carlos Gomez already on the disabled list, it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse for our beloved local nine. Fate has a funny way of playing tricks on us, however, and it appears that the Milwaukee Brewers may now have hit rock bottom.
Prior to yesterday’s game, we found out that second baseman Scooter Gennett had sliced his hand open on Sunday while reaching for soap in the shower. Though Gennett did require several stitches to close up the gash, he was optimistic that he would be able to return to the lineup within short order. During the game, Jonathan Lucroy caught a foul tip off his foot, and left the game during the sixth inning. Lucroy was quickly diagnosed with a broken toe. Today, both players were placed on the 15 day disabled list, retroactive to yesterday (4/20).
With backup catcher Martin Maldonado set to take over behind the plate for Lucroy, catcher Juan Centeno has been recalled from AAA Colorado Springs. The Brewers claimed Centeno off waiver from the Mets during this past offseason. The 25 year old Centeno is in his ninth professional season, and has a .275/.326/.334 career line in 1453 minor league plate appearances. He has appeared in the majors each of the last two seasons, collecting nine hits and three walks in 43 plate appearances. Juan has struggled out of the gates this year at Colorado Springs, managing just a .422 OPS in 30 plate appearances, but is generally regarded as a strong defender behind the plate and has thrown out 41% of would be base stealers during his career. He will likely only be used sparingly, as Maldonado will handle the bulk of the catching duty in Lucroy’s absence. The recovery time for a broken foot is typically between 3-4 weeks.
Replacing Gennett on the active roster is utilityman Elian Herrera, whose contract was purchased from Colorado Springs. Herrera collected 140 plate appearances for the Brewers last season, covering 69 games. He slashed .274/.288/341 while appearing at all three outfield positions, second base, third base, and shortstop. Herrera had been among the hottest hitters in AAA to begin the year this season, collecting 19 hits in 45 at bats while also drawing seven walks. His 1.144 OPS and six extra base hits both lead Colorado Springs, along with his 11 runs scored and nine runs batted in. Elian was previously removed from the Brewers’ 40 man roster prior to the season. In order to add Herrera to the 40 man roster, the Brewers designated veteran reliever Brandon Kinztler for assignment. Kintzler was a top-notch setup man in 2013 for the Brewers, but diminished velocity, home run issues, and injuries might have led to his tenure with the Brewers coming to a close.
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The Brewers now have two of their superstars in Lucroy and Gomez and the DL, and things look like they probably will get worse before they get better. The offense as a whole isn’t producing, and losing last season’s top two contributors surely won’t help things. The time might be drawing nearer for the Brewers to begin looking to sell off some of their expiring contracts, should the team not quickly begin to turn things around this year.
The Brewers (2-11) will continue their series against the Cincinnati Reds (6-7) tonight at Miller Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10. Mike Fiers (0-2, 5.91 ERA) is scheduled to face off against Jason Marquis (0-1, 6.30 ERA). Fiers has struggled on the surface so far this year, giving up seven runs in 10.2 innings pitched, but he does have a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and his 2.83 FIP shows that he hasn’t performed nearly as bad as the results indicate. None of that will matter much though, unless the Brewers can put some runs up on the board. All we can do is hope that tonight is finally the night the Brewers break out of their funk at the plate and put some crooked numbers on the board. This may be a cock-eyed optimist’s point of view, but as Ron Roenicke said after last night’s ballgame, we’re still just a good week away from being right back in the thick of the race.