The Brewers have just finished their 81st game, a rain-soaked 9-8 loss in St. Louis. They have a 35-46 record, which is a little better than what some of the experts thought and a little worse than what I expected. Many experts predicted a 100-loss season which would translate to a 31-50 record at this point. I predicted 74-76 wins, or 37-38 wins now.
Even though their record does not project them winning as many as I thought they would, they are playing better than I anticipated. The starting pitching has come around and they have played some pretty close games against some pretty good teams.
They are 11 games under .500, but how has the team done in each area? I will break it down for you.
Starting Pitching: D
The Brewers’ starting rotation is not what they expected it to be. Opening Day starter Wily Peralta has been sent down to AAA Colorado Springs and is struggling there. Taylor Jungmann, once considered to be one of the top Brewer pitching prospects, was also sent down. He is currently struggling in AA Biloxi.
The Brewers starters got off to a horrible start. They had a record of 5-15 with a 6.32 ERA and were averaging just under 5 innings per start. Jimmy Nelson was the only pitcher having much success in the first month of the season.
Since May 1, the Brewer starters are 19-19 and have brought their ERA down to 4.85. They are up to 5.5 innings per start and are no longer last in the league. A big part of that has been the emergence of 31-year-old rookie Junior Guerra. Guerra is 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA and is averaging 6.3 innings per start.
The Brewers are still last in the National League with 29 quality starts. They are 11th in runs allowed per game and innings per start. They have improved, but they are still near the bottom in most stats.
Relief Pitching: B-
The Brewer relievers are 11-12 with 26 saves in 36 opportunities. Their 72% save conversion rate is 5th in the National League. They have allowed 36% of the inherited runners to score, which is 4th worst in the league.
Closer Jeremy Jeffress is 1-2 and is 6th in the league with 21 saves in 22 opportunities. His 95% conversion rate is 5th in the league for anybody with more than 2 save opportunities. Tyler Thornburg is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA and is tied for 9th in the league with 14 holds.
Will Smith came back from a knee injury and is 1-2 with a 1.98 ERA in 15 appearances. Of their primary relievers, only Michael Blazek (4.97) has an ERA over 3.58. The relievers have been doing a pretty good job for the Brewers this season.
Overall Pitching: C-
The Brewers are 11th in the league with a 4.53 ERA. That has improved by over a run from April, when they had a 5.64 ERA. They are one of 3 teams to have allowed 100 or more home runs so far this season.
Another area that they have improved in is getting the leadoff hitter out. In April, opponents were hitting .408 and had an on-base percentage of .480 when leading off an inning. Now they are hitting .299 with an OBP of .364. That has contributed to the drop in ERA.
Power Hitting: D
The Brewers are 10th in the National League with 83 home runs and 12th with 309 RBI. Considering the fact that they play their home games in hitter-friendly Miller Park, that is not very impressive. They are in the bottom half of the league in all of the power numbers: home runs, doubles, slugging percentage, and total bases.
Chris Carter leads the team and is tied for 4th in the National League with 20 home runs, followed by Ryan Braun with 13 and Jonathan Lucroy with 10. The Brewers have 7 players with 10 or more doubles, led by Jonathan Villar with 17. Ryan Braun leads the team with a .546 slugging percentage and .929 OPS.
Hitting for Average: C-
The Brewers are 9th in the league with a .248 batting average and .326 on-base percentage. They have drawn the third most walks, but they have also struck out a league high 769 times. They have the 4th fewest hits and the 4th fewest runs in the league at the half-way point.
Braun is one of only 2 Brewers with an average of .300 or better, and he is third in the league with a .328 average. Lucroy is hitting .300, which is good for 17th in the league.
Villar has drawn a team-high 42 walks, good for 9th in the National League. Lucroy leads the Brewers with 3 triples and is tied with Villar for the team lead with 40 runs scored.
Overall hitting: D
The ultimate goal in baseball is scoring runs, and the Brewers have not been doing that. It starts with getting on base and the Brewers are among the worst in the league at that, which translates into being among the worst in the league in scoring runs.
Base Running: B-
The Brewers lead the National League with 68 stolen bases and have converted 72% of their attempts, good for 4th in the league. They have done this even though they have the 5th fewest stolen base opportunities (runner on first and/or second with the next base open).
The Brewers have been somewhat reckless on the basepaths. They have been thrown out 31 times, the 3rd most in the National League, including a league-high 9 times at third base and 11 times at home, second most only to the Pirates’ 12.
Villar leads all of baseball with 26 stolen bases, but he has been caught 9 times. He has been thrown out at third a league-high 5 times, a move that kills rallies. Other than Villar, the only base stealing threat has been Hernan Perez, who has 10 stolen bases in limited action.
The Brewers have committed the 4th most errors and have the second worst fielding percentage in the National league. They still have had “Bad News Bears” innings recently, throwing the ball all over the place.
The Brewer catchers have thrown out a 4th best 40% of potential base stealers. Their 31 runners caught stealing leads the league. Martin Maldonado is 2nd in the league (for catchers with at least 10 attempts) with a 50% caught stealing percentage. Lucroy leads the league with 24 runners caught stealing.
The Brewers are in their first year of a rebuild, and as such, they are not expected to do well this year. They were playing pretty well until they started a west coast trip on June 13. They were 30-33 at that point, but have gone 5-13 since.
They have not had a winning streak of more than 4 games, but they also have not had a losing streak of more than 4. They are holding their own in 1-run games, going 12-15. After a rough 8-15 April, they went on a 22-15 run.
The Brewers are a better team than many expected, but they are still not a good team. They have some young players and more on the way, and they may get even more at the trade deadline. But for right now, they just are not good.