Before I get into the Brewers July, let me recap June:
1) MLB Draft/Kendrys Morales (A for the draft: B for eventually not getting Morales)
The Brewers according to several of the media covering the draft did pretty well for themselves. All top 3 players are officially signed and into the system. The potential is high for all three players.
This is important because while Morales for reasons only he knows signed with Minnesota after the draft, an already good farm system may become even better. The Brewers are in a unique situation where they are competing quicker than many realized while still building up the farm system. Win-win strategy.
2) Pitching Depth: A
Brewers have shown their pitching depth by being one of the only teams in baseball to use the fewest starters. Minus Jimmy Nelson start back in May, all five starters in the rotation did not miss any starts. Also until Wily Peralta’s bad outing earlier in the week, all starters have pitched more than 5 innings each start minus the Matt Garza injury. Pretty good.
Even better? You have the ability to call up Jimmy Nelson while moving Marco Estrada to the bullpen. That is almost as good as an in season trade. It will be interesting to see how Nelson does vs Cy Young potential candidate Adam Wainwright.
Nelson is known for being a bulldog so I don’t have any concerns with him being nervous. I kind of get goosebumps with him and Peralta back to back in the rotation potentially.
3) Jonathon Lucroy A+
First of all, congrats to Lucroy on making his first all-star team. He due to Yadier Molina’s injury is going to start for the NL and if voting for the All-Star game was not treated as a king and queen homecoming contest, he should have started the game anyway. He is stats wise having the best season among top catchers in the major leagues and should be in conversation for NL MVP. Let’s start up the MVP talk for this guy as he deserves any and all accolades this year. It’s great to see.
4) Lineup B
Minus the last 10-15 games or so, the Brewers lineup was hitting on all cylinders. I will get to their struggles recently, but I can’t solely base that on the offense.
5) Kyle Lohse A
Lohse has been everything the Brewers had hope. A calming vet who has influence on the entire pitching staff. Most games when Lohse takes the mound, you have confidence that the Brewers will at least be in the game. Kyle has had a wonderful season and let me throw this out there. Perhaps you could talk extension in the off season as he will be in the final year of his contract.
Since I started my July blog late, I will mention all series up to this point with the results:
July 1-2 @ Toronto (Both losses)
July 4-6 @ Cincinnati (lost 2 out of 3)
July 11-13 vs St Louis (lost Friday night)
July 18-20 @ Washington
July 21-23 vs Reds
July 31st Trade Deadline
Now that my review of June out of the way, let’s talk about July.
Let me take a moment to talk to the segment of Brewers fans who are saying the following:
“I knew this was going to happen”
“The sky is falling”
“I told you they are not good”
Is the last 10-15 games the Brewers have played this season concerning? Yes. Absolutely. Does it mean they are not a good team? No.
The Brewers as of Saturday morning July 12th are currently 52-42. 10 games above .500, 94 games into the season and still in 1st place.
Baseball is 162 game marathon. ALL teams will have times when they struggle. Let me repeat that, ALL teams will have times when they struggle.
This was always a three team race between St. Louis, Cincy, and Pittsburgh going into this season. The Brewers being better than anyone including I expected have now made this a 4 team race. For reference here is a previous blog that talks about it.
Go back to March/April. Most baseball analyst had this Brewers team finishing 4th at best while some even had them predicted to finish last behind the Cubs!
If you are saying you knew this Brewers team on July 12th would be 10 games over .500 back in March, you are lying. I watch a ton of baseball and I never thought that would ever happen!!! On that statement alone, this has been a successful Brewers season!
The Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates all made the playoffs last year in the NL Central. They had their troubles and their slumps earlier in the season for various reasons while the Brewers went off to a hot start.
Now those teams are getting hot and playing better and the baseball law of averages appear that the Brewers were due to have this.
Remember the talk about the Giants and how hot they were back in June? 9.5 game lead over the Dodgers at one point.
They as of Saturday morning are deadlock with the Dodgers in the NL West at 51-42. At one point before the Brewers slide, they lost 9 out of 10 (June 9-15) after being 42-21. Yes the Giants have only won 9 out of 30 games from June 9-July 12 (.300 winning pct)!! That includes a Tim Lincecum No hitter during that stretch.
How about the Atlanta Braves who looked good earlier in the season and was poised to run away with the NL East. Well they had a slump too and are in battle with the Nationals for first place.
It’s July. This baseball season races are just getting started. If I had a choice for the Brewers to struggle now or struggle in September, I would want it to happen now.
Remember: The Braves slide in September of 2011 is how the Cardinals took the Wild Card and we know how that turned out.
Let me explain:
Baseball is a strange game if you only casually watch it. For diehards like me, this type of stuff happens all the time!
It’s unexplainable how the Brewers are losing some of these games with 4 run leads or more early on. Thursday July 10th’s meltdown vs the Phillies defies reality. A potential no hitter turned to a blowout by the team that was being no hit for several innings? Crazy!
The Brewers also were not going to run away with this division because their competition is too good and too talented to play the way they have been playing.
To add some perspective, I will detail the current and final standings the last two years the Brewers have not made the postseason:
July 12, 2012
The Yankees, White Sox, and Rangers were leading the AL with the Angels and Orioles for the Wild Card.
The Nationals, Pirates, and Dodgers were NL Division leaders with the Reds and Braves as the Wild Card.
Final playoff teams were:
AL: Yankees, Tigers, A’s Wild Card: Orioles and Rangers
NL: Nationals, Reds, Giants Wild Card: Braves and Cardinals
The White Sox, Angels, Pirates, and Dodgers did not make it from July to September (40%)
July 12, 2013
The Red Sox, Tigers and A’s were AL division with the Rays and Rangers as Wild Cards
The Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks were NL division leaders with the Pirates and Reds as Wild Cards
Final Playoff teams were:
AL: Red Sox, Tigers, A’s Wild Card: Rays and Indians
NL: Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers Wild Card: Pirates, Reds
The Rangers and Diamondbacks did not make it from July to September (20%)
I know this is just quick numbers, however based on the last two seasons the Brewers have a 60-80% chance of making the postseason.
This is still a good team. They are having a great season. For those who may not be huge baseball fans like myself, this is advice I always remind myself going into every season.
When a team is playing terrific, never get too high. When a team is slumping, never get too low.
Baseball is one of the hardest sports to follow because it can be an emotional roller coaster. It is also why I feel it is the best sport out of all the professional sports. You can’t get too emotionally wrapped in the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in a 162 game season.
Hopefully I have taken you off the ledge and given you some tips on how to cope with this division race. I do think this is going to go down to the wire. The NL Central top to bottom has some of the best talent in all of baseball!
Here are my trends for July:
1) Jimmy Nelson
So many Brewers fans were asking for him to be called up again and you now have your wish. Personally, I still would go with the people that got you to this point giving him a little more time to develop, however I do agree that it got tiring watching Marco Estrada throw batting HR practice against opposing batters. At least the Brewers appear to have a pulse on the fan base.
Nelson I do believe is here to stay barring major struggles. The Brewers had this move planned since they went past the 90 days Rule 5 rules to keep Wei Chung Wang on the major league roster. He is suddenly on the DL with “left shoulder tightness.” I am sure the Pirates are amused.
2) Jean Segura
We really need to get Jean Segura going at some point. He is in a huge slump. They tried putting him towards the top of the lineup and that did not work as it affected the entire lineup. I believe he is a good hitter just struggling right now. Judging by his sample size in the bigs, he should get out of it. I think he is too good of a hitter not to.
3) Trade deadline
Some people are saying the Brewers should get pitching. I would like to see them get another bat. The pitching re-enforcements of Jim Henderson and Tyler Thornburg will hopefully come off the DL soon. I would like to see the Brewers acquire someone who is a utility guy that can play anywhere in the field and get on base. I truly believe the Brewers will get someone like this if not by July 31st, in August through waivers. Doug Melvin has been on the record saying nothing is cooking at the moment, however, he is the same GM that surprised everyone by signing Matt Garza and who shocked the baseball world acquiring CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke. He NEVER plays his cards.
I get that you want to platoon guys due to pitching match ups, however can we stop the 2B and 1B platoon!!
I am not saying it is the sole reason why the Brewers are struggling but could be one of the factors. At this point in the season, you put you best players on the field.
Scooter Gennett has proven that he can play 2B and hit. He should be playing the majority of time there no matter how the pitcher throws. Weeks is Weeks and he is on his way out whether the Brewers can sucker someone for a trade, put him on waivers or if he cleans out his locker when the season ends.
Also Mark Reynolds is your better overall player option at first over Lyle Overbay. I like Overbay however I just don’t have the confidence that he can hit or get on base as much as I do in Reynolds.
Please see above. I know Brewers fans are not used to what a division race is like every year but you are in one. Have faith. This team is good. As much fun as this season has been, they still have not played their best baseball yet and are 52-42.
I have dealt with some adversity personally this year and unfortunately by last night’s sad news the team is facing adversity that makes baseball not seem so important.
This team has great chemistry and will get through the funk that they are in.
Keep the faith Brewers fans!!
Update: 7/12/14 12:20 pm. Condolences to Jean Segura and his family on hearing the unfortunate news the team found out last night.