The theme for the month of April for the Milwaukee Brewers was controversy. From some of their best players getting injured to big names slumping, things were far from easy in the first month of the season. But the winning culture that was established in the past prevailed and the Crew ended the month 16-10 and atop the NL Central.
We looked at the ‘Studs And Duds’ from the first three series of the season but 17 games have taken place since then and the roster has since changed dramatically.
So let’s take a look at who’s impressed and who hasn’t for the Brewers in the month of April’s edition of ‘Studs And Duds’.
Stud: Travis Shaw
Travis Shaw is fulfilling the role that was asked of him prior to the start of the season and then some. The Milwaukee third baseman is tied for seventh in all of the MLB in RBI’s with 21 and leads the club in home runs with five. He has shown the ability to perform in clutch situations and is one of the valuable veteran leaders in a clubhouse that seems to have a revolving door currently thanks to injuries.
Shaw is a career .240 hitter so seeing that his average is around .220 right now isn’t all that alarming. His job is to plate runners and that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s seen most of his time at cleanup in Craig Counsell’s lineup (12 games, 11 RBI) but has also excelled in the five spot (6 games, 8 RBI).
Statcast has him hovering around league average in most advanced statistics but I think if Shaw can continue to drive in runners with consistency, the Baseball Savant-loving Brewer fans can deal with his percentile rankings. One area Shaw could work on a bit more is his strikeout percentage. Currently he’s on pace for about 180 strikeouts in a full 162 game season which would be the most in his career by about 40. There’s still plenty of time left in the season to lower that number.
Dud: Keston Hiura
It might not be long until Keston Hiura finds himself in Tennessee with the Brewers Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds. To put it bluntly, Hiura has been horrible to start the 2021 campaign. I find myself shocked when he ends an at-bat without striking out and it’s become customary to expect a whiff on a fastball right down the middle. We wrote about a potential demotion to try to help Hiura figure some things out and it may not be the worst option with the Sounds’ first game on May 4th.
We know Keston Hiura is a good hitter. You don’t hit .303 in 84 games in your first year in the MLB on accident, there’s just a disconnect somewhere in his game and it needs to be looked at further. Also, his defense hasn’t been much better than his hitting with an Outs Above Average ranking in the 5th percentile so some more reps at the new position could really benefit him.
The Brewers lineup is better off with Keston Hiura in it but with his current struggles and the injury status of this team, they can’t sit around and wait for him to break out of this slump.
Stud: Back end of the Bullpen
35.1 innings. 1.66 ERA. 47 strikeouts. 6 earned runs given up. The trio of J.P. Feyereisen, Devin Williams and Josh Hader has been sensational. Brewers fans have been fortunate to cheer on some pretty spectacular bullpens as of late and this one might rank right up there among the best when it’s all said and done.
And crazily enough, it’s the reigning NL Reliever of the Year that’s skewing the data away from being virtually untouchable. It was a bit of a rough spring and even start to the regular season for Devin Williams but since April 18th, his ERA has been on a pretty steady decline, which makes innings 7, 8 and 9 a nightmare for any lineup in baseball.
Williams’ changeup started off looking different from the pitch that mesmerized hitters and pitching aficionados alike last year but the shape and break seems to have returned.
And we’ve already touched on Feyereisen’s unbelievable start to the year along with Hader’s continued dominance, so the question remains: Can the Brewers give one of the best trios of relievers in baseball the lead entering the 7th inning?
Dud: Infield Reserves
You don’t win 16 games in a month with all the injuries the Brewers endured without depth. And the Brewers seem to have plenty of it, the consistency of those substitutes could be better. Outfield backups Billy McKinney and Tyrone Taylor have seized their opportunities and have shown plenty of flashes of quality play with the injuries to Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich but the infield reserves have left plenty to be desired.
Jace Peterson, Daniel Vogelbach, Pablo Reyes and Daniel Robertson have struggled to solidify a season-long role with this team due to some shaky play. Injuries and inconsistencies around the infield have given them chances and none have done much of anything to bolster their case going forward. The four of them combine to have a dismal average of .159 with 44 strikeouts and 8 runs batted in 129 at-bats.
Peterson and Robertson are currently on the IL, Reyes has seen limited action with the major league club and Vogelbach is in the midst of a slump. The long grind of a 162 game season has already put on display how key depth really is and if the Brewers want to continue to find ways to win, these guys will need to play better, most notably at the plate.
Honorable Mention: Stud – Omar Narvaez (.368/.443/.529) Dud – Josh Lindblom (10.97 ERA / .354 opponent AVG / 2.25 WHIP)
Obviously guys like Narvaez and Burnes have shined to start the year but they’ve been talked about plenty. Speaking of constant topics of discussions, injuries have obviously plagued the Brewers and I was afraid that if I even typed out the word “injury” more than a handful of times in this article another player might get sent to the IL.
For the Brewers to be in the position they’re in right now, they’ve had several more studs, including Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.