The Milwaukee Brewers just wrapped up a four game series against the Chicago White Sox. At that point, the Brewers completed their 10th game of the year and had a record of 5-5. That is 1/6th of the 2020 MLB season.
It wasn’t the hot start that most Brewers fans were expecting or hoping for through the first 1/6th of the season, but there are recent signs of life.
After being put on ice for a whole weekend, the Brewers finally have a chance to get going.
For me, there are two major headliners from a player standpoint. The first headliner, and the much more impactful headliner, is that Christian Yelich is in the worst slump of his career. Yelich currently has a cringe worthy batting average of .111 and is striking out a ton. The lack of contact and lack of productive at bats is starting to take a toll on a Brewers team that has not found its groove offensively yet.
Ace Brandon Woodruff is my other major headliner. Woodruff is doing everything he can to help break the Opening Day curse of Brewers starters. While the team is 1-2 in Woodruff starts, he has kept the games close, compiled 21 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched, and currently has a WHIP of 0.923!
Woodruff is experiencing all of this success while throwing an increased amount of changeups. To date, he has thrown more changeups than sliders. Woodruff has clearly earned the trust of Craig Counsell and will get the ball every five days, even if a weekend series is cancelled due to COVID-19 and other players have to miss starts. He is officially the Crew’s ace.
Setting Brandon Woodruff aside, Craig Counsell has often elected to piggyback his starters in this early part of the season. So far we have seen starting pitcher piggyback combinations of: Burnes & Suter, Peralta & Lauer, Lindblom & Suter, and Anderson & Burnes. All of these combinations feature a switch in pitcher handedness.
In the bullpen, Devin Williams and David Phelps have seen a good amount of high leverage situations. Devin Williams has been the victim of some bad luck during his outings but has relied on a filthy changeup to get out of jams. Phelps’ most memorable outing so far was when he pitched two innings against the Pirates in extra’s to secure a Brewers victory.
While the results have been mixed, Corey Knebel has looked sharp. He has often been inserted earlier in games, but at mid-game tipping points. While his success rate has been far from perfect in these situations, he has limited the damage, and his fastball velocity is starting to creep north of 95 MPH again.
From a team standpoint, the Brewers rank near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories. With their MVP Christian Yelich slumping, the lone bright spots have been Eric Sogard and Ben Gamel. Hitting is said to be contagious among a team so hopefully Sogard and Gamel’s success can spread to his teammates.
The offense has also consisted of a ton of platoons based on what handed pitcher they are facing. A few of the platoons are: Pina & Narvaez at catcher, Sogard & Arcia at shortstop, and Holt & Gyorko at third base.
While .500 ball was certainly not the dream as the 2020 season began, given the offensive struggles you have to believe things will get better. With expanded playoffs and now the top two teams from each division qualifying for the postseason, the Brewers don’t need to be dominant in the regular season. They just need to play well enough to get in.
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The Brewers play their 11th game of the year Friday, August 7th at 7:10 CT vs the Cincinnati Reds.