Man, just when it felt like the Brewers offense was starting to hit somewhat of a stride, things have fallen back to earth lately. After last night’s series-opening loss to the Rockies, Milwaukee finds themselves in a four-game losing streak in which they’ve scored seven total runs.
Part of that could be attributed to another rash of injuries. Though they were able to weather the storm for much of the month, just like they did under similar circumstances in April, the loss of one of their primary outfielders and two main infielders felt like it was finally catching up to them.
Late Friday afternoon, the Brewers announced that one of those three core players was returning from the injured list. It not only gives the team one of their top defenders on the field back, but also their leadoff hitter.
When Kolten Wong originally went back on the IL, it was thought that Luis Urias would garner much of the playing time in his place. The subsequent injury to third baseman Travis Shaw shifted Urias across the diamond and instead gave playing time to the likes of Jace Peterson, and Tim Lopes.
Now, with Kolten Wong back, perhaps the Brewers can snap out of their brief offensive funk.
Prior to his injury, Wong had increased his slash line to .280/.343/.441 for the season and was sitting on what would be a career high 115 OPS+. In his last 15 games, he was batting .333 with a .928 OPS, five doubles, a triple, two homers, and three steals.
That’s much better production (to say the least) than they got from Peterson and Lopes in his stead. In the 15 games after Wong’s injury, that duo combined to go 4 for 36 (.111) with a double, six walks, and five runs scored when playing at second base. They struck out in 15 of 42 plate appearances (35.7%).
Lopes has since been optioned back to Triple-A with the activation of outfielder Derek Fisher from the injured list yesterday.
In addition, the Brewers looked to spark their pitching staff by optioning reliever Eric Yardley to Triple-A and selecting, for a second time this year, the contract of pitcher Zack Godley. To make room on the 40-man for Godley, Milwaukee designated infielder Jake Hager for assignment.
While Milwaukee was dealing with a different rash of injuries in April, Godley was pressed into starting duty on April 28th against the Marlins after Corbin Burnes was placed on the IL. He had an odd line that day in which he only gave up a hit over three innings while striking out five, but also walked five batters, resulting in four runs scored (three earned).
Unfortunately, he would suffer an injury of his own that day on a bunt attempt, resulting in his own IL stint. He would be outrighted to Triple-A on May 12th, a day before Burnes’ return from the IL. Godley would elect to remain with the Brewers organization and has pitched well since then (6 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 34 K, 12 BB with Nashville).
Meanwhile, Yardley has struggled in 2021, putting up a 6.75 ERA and 1.821 WHIP over 18 2/3 innings. Godley could either provide an upgrade for him, or even sub in for Eric Lauer, who has been roughed up for 11 earned runs in his last two starts, for the currently used sixth spot in the rotation.
The Brewers kick off the second game of their series against the Rockies tonight at 8:10pm CST in Colorado. At the top of their order, is their trusty, Gold Glove leadoff hitter Wong.