Seemingly as quickly as it all began, it’s already ended as the Milwaukee Brewers were knocked out of the playoffs on Tuesday night.
The Brewers were defeated 5-4 at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. In a series of extreme frustration for players, coaches and fans alike, the aggravation has finally subsided.
Due in large part to the bats of Milwaukee looking like a shell of themselves in comparison to the middle stages of the regular season, the season has come to an end. From the inability to hit fastballs down the middle of plate to the willingness to swing at offspeed pitches outside of the zone, it was a sad excuse of an offensive performance from the Brewers.
Entering Game 4, Milwaukee was 0-16 with runners in scoring position and plated 2 runs in 3 games. The struggles would continue in the first inning as the heart of the lineup failed to score a run with two runners on base and zero outs. By some miracle the Brewers did end up converting with runners in scoring position in the 4th inning. And then after a Rowdy Tellez 2-run home run in the 5th inning things looked good, but the Brewers couldn’t hold onto the lead.
The move to start Eric Lauer was heavily criticized as the Milwaukee southpaw went 3.2 innings, but he couldn’t finish the fourth inning as two runs allowed were attributed outing It was by no means a bad start by Lauer and he gave the Crew the chance they needed to win.
Many believed that Corbin Burnes should start in an elimination game on short rest but Craig Counsell rode with a pitcher who was one of the best in the National League in the second half. In relief it seemed impossible to get a clean inning and the flirtation with danger came to an end after Josh Hader surrendered a solo home run to Freddie Freeman on a first pitch slider to give the Braves the lead.
In his first playoff series as a Milwaukee Brewer, Willy Adames once again was a bright spot. He went 5-17, good enough for a .750 OPS. The man that sparked the Crew’s bats earlier in the season couldn’t encourage the offensive production of others this time around as no other player registered more than 3 hits in the four games that were played.
At one point, over a span of 3 games the Brewers had a 22 scoreless inning streak. Contributors to the poor showing overall offensively include: Christian Yelich (3 for 15), Kolten Wong (1 for 12) and Avisail Garcia (2 for 15). The Brewers struck out 42 times in 4 games, which contributed heavily to the inability to move runners and create productive outs.
While there was some unfair criticism towards skipper Craig Counsell in his decisions to prioritize scoring runs over leaving starters in the game, Counsell didn’t do much to shake up the offensive struggles. The lineup mostly stayed the same besides the promotion of Luis Urias to the starting third baseman spot over Eduardo Escobar.
Also, there were basically zero stolen base attempts in the entire series and even with Counsell’s lack of willingness to utilize the “small ball” approach, the manufacturing of runs via the bunt may have benefitted the Crew in the series. It was not the usual pulling of all the right strings from the Brewers manager in this series.
Putrid. Anemic. Feeble. Inept. Whatever adjective you’d like to use to describe the “offense” in the NLDS, it’s a shame that one of the most decorated starting rotations of recent history was wasted. The lack of run support undeniably put pressure on the arms of the Brewers pitching staff, and against an offense as prestigious as the Braves’, it’s almost impossible to ask for much better of a performance by them as a unit.
So as we enter another offseason there is plenty to discuss and unpack. There will be discussions involving potential acquisitions and departures of players as well as the analyzing of coaches and how they performed as the year went along. It’s a disheartening way to end a season that looked to have so much promise for so long.