Milwaukee Brewers: It’s Time to Change the Lineup

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 09: Jaime Garcia
MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 09: Jaime Garcia /

Since the All-Star Break, the Brewers offense has been struggling mightily. The powerhouse offense that put the Milwaukee Brewers in first place to begin with has looked more like an outhouse than a powerhouse. What can manager Craig Counsell do to change this?

In the first half, everyone on the Milwaukee Brewers offense made major contributions. Most players were hitting well, getting on base, scoring lots of runs and we lots of scoring almost every game. Now, it seems they’re lucky to get three runs a night.

The second half has been a struggle. The Brewers are still able to get early leads, but can’t pile on to seal the victory. It seems the only runs they get now are in the early innings with a small lead, and then nothing the rest of the game, hoping the pitching staff can hold the lead.

It’s the reason the Brewers were swept by the Pirates. It’s the reason they lost two out of three to Philadelphia. Also, it’s the reason they lost two of three to the Cubs. They’ve been unable to pile on the runs after getting an early lead, giving teams chances to come back and win.

For most of the year, manager Craig Counsell has put out a lineup looking something like this:

  1. Villar/Sogard
  2. Thames/Santana
  3. Braun/Perez
  4. Shaw
  5. Santana/Perez
  6. Pina
  7. Broxton
  8. Arcia

That lineup may have had success in the first half, but now it’s not. We’re all aware of the struggles with RISP, including an 0-33 stretch towards the end of that losing streak. The Milwaukee Brewers have been unable to string hits together to make a rally, depending mostly on the home run. Now that the offensive struggles are continuing, Counsell must realize that this lineup doesn’t play to everyone’s strengths.

As good as Eric Thames is, he doesn’t really belong in the second spot in the lineup. Orlando Arcia, for how well he’s played, doesn’t belong in the eighth spot either, so it may be time to adjust. Counsell altered his lineup a couple times recently, both in the win against Washington, and the lone win against the Cubs. Coincidentally, both of those games were wins. Or perhaps, it’s not a coincidence at all.

Counsell should give serious consideration to the new lineup he’s tried out, and maybe the most productive lineup would look something like this:

  1. Perez/Sogard
  2. Braun
  3. Shaw
  4. Santana
  5. Thames/Aguilar
  6. Pina
  7. Broxton
  8. Arcia

As much as Arcia fits in near the top of the order, he may not be ready to lead off just yet. He has struggled of late, although so has the rest of the offense. But Hernan Perez deserves a shot atop the order. He hits well, he gets on base, and he has speed. Counsell has said he likes having Ryan Braun between the two lefties in Thames and Shaw, but Eric Sogard also presents a viable lefty option.

Braun has spent practically his entire career hitting in the third spot, but maybe it’s time to change that. Travis Shaw has done well in the cleanup spot. However, moving up wouldn’t be bad for him either. Santana is an ideal cleanup hitter, and Thames fits perfectly in the five-hole. Pina has been successful hitting sixth and Broxton is hitting too poorly most of the time to belong at the top of the order.

This lineup alternates lefties and puts these players in lineup spots where they fit better. At this point, Thames hitting second the rest of the season is like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. It just won’t work the way you want it to.

Craig Counsell needs to try something to give this offense a jolt. They can’t put together rallies like they used to and it’s costing them games. During their six-game losing streak, the Brewers could’ve won all of those games if they had one or two timely hits. They probably could’ve won every game on that road-trip if the right lineup was out there, except that series finale with Washington.

The Brewers have gotten close in all those losses, but close only counts in horseshoes. The last time the Brewers scored more than four runs was July 26, against Washington, in a loss. And three of those five didn’t come until the ninth inning.

Next: Can The Brewers Catch The Cubs?

As a series begins against Tampa, hopefully the Milwaukee Brewers can find a way to score some runs outside of the home run ball. All they need are a few good rallies throughout the game to hold the lead and give their pitching staff a comfortable cushion.