Mistake that doomed the Brewers #2: Not figuring out how to use Keston Hiura
It’s an unusual, yet simple situation with Keston Hiura. He’s a right-handed hitter. He struggles facing left-handed pitching and thrives against right-handed pitching. You would think the Brewers would try to put him in more situations where he faces right-handers, right?
Instead Craig Counsell would insert Hiura into the lineup almost exclusively against left-handed pitchers. Sometimes he’d be in the starting lineup that way, sometimes Counsell would intentionally pinch hit Hiura against a lefty. In 52 games and 106 PAs against LHPs, Hiura hit just .183/.274/.333 with a .607 OPS and 48 strikeouts.
However against RHPs, Hiura hit .260/.353/.542 with 11 homers, a .895 OPS, and 60 strikeouts in 150 PAs. The strikeout percentage was high, but still lower than against lefties, he had more power, and reached base far more consistently in just a few more games against RHPs.
Why in the world would the Brewers not start him more often against right-handed pitchers? Yes, he’s a right handed hitter and yes his strikeout issues are obvious. But he’s still been productive against righties, not only this year but his whole career he’s been far more productive against righties.
Meanwhile, Andrew McCutchen, who was signed because of his ability to hit left-handed pitching saw the majority of the starts at DH against righties while Hiura saw the starts against lefties. It made no sense. It still makes no sense.
Craig Counsell and the Brewers have clearly yet to figure out how to A) fix Keston Hiura so he stops striking out 40+% of the time and B) properly utilize him in the lineup to get the most you can out of him.
While they work on cutting down his ridiculously high strikeout rate, Hiura needs to be put in positions to succeed to build confidence and find what works for him. Clearly that is playing more often against righties and less often against lefties. That may be unusual for a right-handed hitter, and it’s even tougher when he doesn’t have a clear defensive position, but he could help this team win more games if he’s put in the right spots.