It was a month of peaks and valleys for the Milwaukee Brewers. Early on in May they were losers of six games in a row and things were looking bleak. Fast forward to the last handful games and the Crew have things rolling again, going 5-0 in the final days of May.
When you have a rollercoaster ride of a month like the Brewers just had, there are sure to be those individuals who had their hands up in the air for the ride screaming excitedly and those who lost their hats and almost upchucked.
Here are the Brewers ‘Studs and Duds’ from the month of May.
Stud: Avisail Garcia
Garcia has always been one of those streaky hitters. You can almost feel the frustration radiating off him when he’s not seeing the ball well, like back in mid-April where he had a stretch of going 0-20 in six games. But now, I’m assuming the baseball is the size of a beach ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand because he’s been mashing as of late. Garcia has a home run in four of his last eight games and he’s looked very comfortable at that ever so important cleanup spot in the lineup.
It’s vital that he keeps producing like he has been of late as Lorenzo Cain is back on the IL with a hamstring injury, even more so solidifying Avi’s spot in the lineup moving forward. Now would be a good time for the rest of the position players to follow suit and get the bats going leading up to the All-Star break.
Dud: 2 Strike Approach
If you wanted to make a tutorial video on ‘How Not To Hit With Two Strikes’ you could probably just throw in a bunch of Brewers strikeouts and call the video good. The Brewers have struggled to put the bat on the ball with two strikes not just in May, but throughout the entire season so far.
They currently sit at 27th out of 30 teams in regards to team strikeout percentage at 26.8% of the time. Last year, the individual league average in strikeout percentage was 23.1% of the time. Currently, the Brewers have nine players that surpass that number with Keston Hiura being the most frequently struck out at 37.5% of the time. Simply put, Milwaukee will struggle to find ways to win games with guys showing an inability to put the ball in play during high-leverage situations.
Whether it’s shooting a ground ball to the right side of the infield with a runner on second base or a sacrifice fly ball to score a runner, little things often win you baseball games. Brewers hitters find themselves in trouble more often than not when there are two strikes against them.
Just some food for thought: the last four World Series champions finished 4th-best, 5th-best, 3rd-best and the best respectively in team strikeout percentage so the numbers suggest that contact is key.
Stud: Brandon Woodruff
Brandon Woodruff just had one of the best months EVER as a pitcher in a Brewers uniform so it would be criminal to leave him off this list. In six starts during the month, he posted a 1.07 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 42 innings of work. Hitters had an average of .138 against the Milwaukee ace with a WHIP so small you’d need a magnifying glass to see it at 0.67.
Woodruff most recently out-dueled Max Scherzer and secured his fourth victory of the season but most importantly, the Crew is 8-3 in his starts this season. This stretch of dominance didn’t just start when the calendar flipped to May, rather he has been on a tear for his last 10 starts. Over that span, he’s become the eighth pitcher in franchise history with 10 consecutive quality starts and the first since 2008 when CC Sabathia put together 13 in a row.
The dominance of Jacob deGrom has been impressive but not many baseball fans outside of the state of Wisconsin saw this emergence coming. Woodruff is breathing down the neck of the New York ace in the Cy Young race and it’s just become expected for Brewer fans that he dominates each and every hitter at this point. He has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Dud: Jackie Bradley Jr.
If you thought the first month in a Brewers uniform for Jackie Bradley Jr. was tough to watch, I hope you shielded your eyes or left the room every time he came up to the plate in May. The biggest offseason acquisition just went through the worst month of his career at the plate going 6-72 (.082/.148/.164) with two home runs, eight RBI’s and 30 strikeouts in 23 games played in.
I previously dissected his struggles in mid-May, but things really haven’t changed since for the one-time ALCS MVP. He has logged at least one strikeout in eight of his last nine games and he still looks puzzled against breaking balls.
As mentioned above, Lorenzo Cain is hurt once again so JBJ will really need to pick up the slack now. He will more than likely be penciled into Craig Counsell’s lineup everyday, but something needs to change because it’s almost impossible to keep a guy hitting sub .100 in a month in your lineup.
Obviously there’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around but it appears as though things have gotten worse before they’ve gotten better for one of the bigger offseason acquisitions.