Another month with a winning record (14-12), even amidst injuries and some much needed rest for certain players was the story of September. The Brewers won five series and dropped three during ‘Craigtember’ including sweeps of the Cleveland Indians and the New York Mets.
They ended the month by popping bottles on September 26th to celebrate their third time ever winning the NL Central.
Hopefully this is not the last 2021 monthly edition of Brewers Studs and Duds as the MLB Playoffs last all October. Let’s revisit the month and see who’s hot and who’s not entering the postseason.
Brewers September Stud: Eric Lauer
Eric Lauer had the lowest ERA and WHIP of all Brewers starting pitchers in the month of September. Seriously, check for yourself. The lefty went 31.1 innings in September allowing only four runs. Lauer has transcended his game from what previously seemed like success only against the NL West to now being a force to be reckoned with against any team in the MLB.
He had a 4.00 K/BB ratio in the month with a minuscule batting average against of .133. While the strikeout numbers are up a bit for the southpaw, he’s simply giving up less hard contact compared to earlier in the season. In the last three months of play, Lauer has only allowed five home runs combined. Prior to that, he gave up five home runs in the months of May and June respectively.
With the emergence of Aaron Ashby, the Brewers have two lefties that can go extended innings if needed. Having so many capable pitchers is an embarrassment of riches, now the question is can the Brewers offense put up enough runs to make a serious World Series run?
Brewers September Dud: Omar Narvaez
It’s been a struggle for Omar Narvaez as of late. He hasn’t homered since August 11th and his average has been declining as well. It’s the first month since May that he hasn’t hit above .270 in a month and in September he wasn’t even close to that number (.197). Narvaez is a guy that the Brewers need to get going to wake up this offense for the postseason run as he’s been a huge contributor the majority of the season, a season where he was named to the NL All-Star team.
He’s consistently been in the middle of the Milwaukee lineup with chances to deliver runs, but in September he only logged three RBI’s. He also grounded into five double plays in the month, a number that’s abnormally high for him.
When Omar Narvaez produces, the Brewers seem to win. His slash line is night and day when it comes to Milwaukee wins and losses. He’s a key piece of the puzzle and it’s crucial that he finds his All-Star form for this offense that has a tendency to struggle at times.
Brewers September Stud: Luis Urias
It’s been quite the rollercoaster ride of a 2021 season for Luis Urias, but it appears he’s turned a corner and can consistently contribute as an integral part of this team. In September, ‘Wicho’ slashed .268/.394/.488 with five home runs, 15 runs batted in and an OPS+ of 124. It was also his best OPS month of 2021, beating his August mark of .877 by .005. He’s getting hot at the right time.
He reached base safely in 23/25 games in the month and an area where he’s really improved is his plate discipline. He walked 15 times in September, two more than his previous high in a month that came back in July. He’s not chasing pitches out of the zone, thus making him that much more of a harder out.
Urias has found a power surge as of late also. He’s hit five home runs in each of the last two months. For reference, in 2020 he hit 0 home runs in 120 plate appearances, so while the power numbers are a bit unexpected, they’re definitely welcomed.
Brewers September Dud: Brad Boxberger
With the recent news regarding Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger’s role is going to be that much bigger…and he’s coming off a tough September. In the month he posted an ERA of 10.80 and gave up nine hits in 8.1 innings of work. A big portion of that high earned run average is due to a disastrous outing against the Phillies on September 6th where he failed to record an out and gave up five earned runs.
Boxberger had four perfect innings in the month, but also had four outings giving up at least one run. It’ll be interesting to see if he moves to the eighth inning now with the setup man job open. If he does, he’ll have to turn things around because he’s struggled in the eighth inning in 2021 with 7.20 ERA and trouble with command, surrendering 12 walks in 15 innings of work.
I think keeping Boxberger in the seventh inning would be best for the team and then depending on the hitters, you could use Aaron Ashby or Jake Cousins in the eighth inning. Regardless of who’s pitching when, the bullpen has been so good all year and will have to continue their impressive 2021 season in the playoffs.
Things have looked bleak for the San Diego Padres recently with them being eliminated from playoff contention. Now if they were to look at the trade they made with the Brewers that sent away Luis Urias and Eric Lauer, it would probably add to the headaches for that front office. These two guys have been phenomenal for the Crew as of late and look to be big contributors in October.