As the calendar is about to flip over to September, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in the middle of a playoff race with a lot of questions surrounding their pitching staff.
Other than Jhoulys Chacin, the Brewers starting rotation has been inconsistent most of the season and unreliable in big game situations. To many, this rotation does not have the makeup of a playoff caliber team.
To make matters worse, the bullpen, which thrived behind super-human performances from Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress during the first half of the season, has struggled as of late. Hader and Jeffress have shown that they are human, and Knebel’s struggles continued to get worse and he has since been sent to Triple-A.
However, with a favorable schedule ahead for Milwaukee and the roster set to expand on September 1st, I believe this will allow Craig Counsell to get creative with how he uses his pitching staff. By utilizing the off days, exploiting pitching matchups, and possibly giving more rest days to a struggling pitcher, Milwaukee will be placed in a better position to win.
After playing a difficult stretch of games leading into the All-Star break including 21 games in 20 days, followed by 17 games in 17 days directly after, the Brewers at some points just appeared tired. The team’s only days off during that stretch were the All-Star break and for the five Brewers All-Stars, they didn’t really have any sort of break.
But the Crew persevered and kept themselves in playoff contention. Now as they enter the month of September, they’ll be able to reap the rewards and have multiple off days ahead of them. Milwaukee will have every Thursday in September off and never play more than six games in a row. They’ll also have 15 out of their 24 games at Miller Park where they boast one of the best home records in the NL.
The Starting Rotation
Knowing that there will be an off day every week for starting pitchers to catch up on rest will allow Counsell to play matchups more than he would during the dog days of summer. Looking back to when the Brewers last played against the Cardinals, Counsell was able to move Chacin and Anderson around, knowing that this was a crucial series. With as many off days as the Brewers will have, Counsell will have this same flexibility.
When the calendar changes and the Milwaukee Brewers expand their roster, it’s going to be very helpful for the pitching staff as well. This will allow Milwaukee to add depth in the starting rotation by bringing back Zach Davies and the ability to add extra arms in the bullpen.
We can anticipate Corey Knebel, Brandon Woodruff, and Jacob Barnes all being added to the bullpen. There is also the potential of adding the young lefty Quintin Torres-Costa to be a left-handed specialist. This will afford Counsell the ability to have guys that can eat up innings, as well as take advantage of favorable pitching matchups late in games due to having more options in the bullpen. All while being able to keep Joakim Soria, Hader, and Jeffress fresh for high leverage situations.
At this point in the season, it seems unlikely the Milwaukee Brewers are going to acquire a pitcher and realistically, if they do, he isn’t going to be a game changer. There are no more Justin Verlander‘s available. Milwaukee is going to have to make the playoff push with the arms that they have.
GM David Stearns continues to talk about his faith in this staff and I believe a lot of that has to do with what lies ahead for Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Brewers rotation does have some weak spots, but with the upcoming schedule and expanded roster it will allow Counsell to work around some of those deficiencies.