The Milwaukee Brewers front office will have some big decisions to make this July as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Coming into the season, and for most of the first half, if you asked anyone what the Milwaukee Brewers were going to target in July, the answer would have unanimously been starting pitching. It was a big need in the offseason and it wasn’t addressed, making it an obvious need in July.
But the offense has a tendency to go hot and cold. The Brewers have now been shut out 10 times already this year, leading to one-third of their losses. The offense revolves around Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. If they have an off night, the entire offense has an off night.
The bottom of the order has been a dumpster fire at the plate. Manny Pina and Orlando Arcia have had poor seasons offensively, Jonathan Villar is still pretty inconsistent at the plate, and they’ve been unable to put anything positive together for the most part.
The bullpen has dominated when they have a lead, and the starting rotation has been better of late. But it still lacks a true ace at the top. So which need is bigger: A frontline starter, or a consistent bat?
Needing An Arm
The starting rotation right now is getting pretty good production out of Jhoulys Chacin and Junior Guerra. Chase Anderson has some good starts every now and then but he’s not who he was in 2017. Brent Suter has done well but still can’t be trusted to go deep into games.
Zach Davies is going to return soon and Freddy Peralta has been able to get some spot starts but he’s still so young and inexperienced. Jimmy Nelson isn’t going to return now until after the All-Star Break. The rotation could use a boost at the top.
Getting Nelson back might be as good as a deadline acquisition. It might be. It’s not like Nelson was healthy at the beginning of the year and is just recovering from a few weeks off. Nelson hasn’t pitched in a game since last September. It might take him awhile to get back up to full speed.
The Milwaukee Brewers can’t depend on Nelson to find his footing quickly as their only salvation in the rotation this July. It could take him until mid-August or even September before he feels comfortable on the mound again. There needs to be another addition to the top of this rotation in the meantime.
Needing A Bat
This Brewers offense can be the most beautiful thing to watch in action. They can string hits together, steal bases, knock home runs, and score at a blistering pace. They can also be the most stressful thing in the world to watch when they struggle. Sometimes they just look like Little Leaguers up there at the plate.
The Brewers can’t be reliant on Cain and Yelich at the top of the order to score runs and expect to make it anywhere in the postseason. They need to get production up and down the lineup, and get back to where they were in their hot streak in May, where it was a different guy every night.
This offense has been shut out 10 times already this season. That’s unacceptable given the talent this group has. Two very important up the middle positions, shortstop and catcher, that were productive at the plate last year, are struggling in 2018. The team could search for upgrades at either position.
Which Need Is Bigger?
You can’t win the World Series without incredible pitching. The rotation right now is below World Series standard. They need to add a frontline starting pitcher to this rotation if they wish to make a deep playoff run.
That being said, the need for a bat is bigger than we expected. They may need to add both an arm and a bat this July. They have the farm system to do it, but two blockbuster trades could seriously deplete it, especially after the Yelich trade. Making three blockbusters in a calendar year is brutal on a farm.
No one would fault the Brewers if they made a move for a bat this July, especially given the dearth of frontline pitching options on the market this year. But the starting pitching need has been there all along, and a healthy Nelson, Anderson, and the ace acquired at the deadline would make for a tremendous playoff rotation, one that could carry the Crew in October, despite any offensive shortcomings.
There’s a lot that can happen between now and July 31st and the Milwaukee Brewers front office will need to think long and hard about whether they should focus more on getting a pitcher or a hitter.