In last week’s Milwaukee Brewers post I touched on the new plate patience philosophy from manager Craig Counsell. So far, so good. Going into Wednesday’s game with Minnesota, the Brew Crew had a team total of 54 walks, good for third in the National League behind Pittsburgh and Chicago. As individuals, every regular position player has drawn at least one walk with second baseman Scooter Gennett leading the way with nine. Also mentioned in the previous post is the new plate approach from “all or nothing” basher Chris Carter. He’s drawn six walks so far and had an on base percentage of .340 prior to yesterday’s contest. Right now the increased .OBP is an important stat for the team as these guys really aren’t hitting – the team batting average is just .215 while the collective .OBP is .304 – a whopping 94 points higher.
So what does this add up to? Well, the team is currently on pace to set a franchise record for walks if they can keep this up for, oh…only another 147 games. But this is an encouraging aspect of Milwaukee’s game so far, and taking a lot of pitches was something Counsell did to drive pitchers crazy during his career. GM David Stearns may surprise fans by adding more bashers to the lineup via trade or free agency – it is hitter-friendly Miller Park after all. But probably the type of team best suited for Counsell to manage is a lot of average/speed guys with three power hitters in the middle of the lineup. He has Carter, Ryan Braun, and Jonathan Lucroy generally in those spots now, but as Brewers fans were told, any trade is possible and to not expect that the lineup currently on the field would be the one to potentially contend again.
Random Notes: For those that haven’t looked at a Brewers box score yet this season, Counsell has experimented with having the pitcher bat eighth in the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps this approach or abandons it as past Brewers managers have.
Keon Broxton – sent to the minors after no hits in 18 at bats, including 11 strikeouts. He did have two stolen bases. Counsell brought up Zach Davies when he needed to slot in a fifth starter to cover for the injured Matt Garza.
Injury Report – Pitchers Corey Knebel and Matt Garza are progressing slowly in their injury rehab. Neither is to the point of playing catch yet. Still a wait and see approach with reliever Will Smith.
Consistency or lack thereof: After taking two of three games from Houston last weekend, the Brewers went on to drop two of three in St. Louis and two of three in Pittsburgh. The wins were thrilling, but the losses were pretty one-sided (10-1 and 7-0 in St. Louis; 5-0 and 9-3 in Pitt). Despite the lack of offense, you can glance at those scores and tell the starting pitching was hit pretty hard.
Team Leaders: Braun, Gennett and Carter are tied with three homers each, while Braun and Carter also share the lead in RBI’s with 10. Braun is the only regular with a .BA over .300 at .319 so far. On the pitching side, Jeremy Jeffress continues to impress with no runs allowed over seven appearances and five saves. Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson have the lowest ERA’s of the starters and both have 13 strikeouts, but Anderson has worked around more hits (19) than any starter besides the oft-roughed up Wily Peralta.
Down on the Farm: #1 Prospect Orlando Arcia has a .310 average over 42 at bats. At the AA level, #2 prospect Brett Phillips is at .326 over 43 at bats.
Border Battle Scheduling Rant: Gotta admit it, I’m no fan of the back-to-back four game home/home series between the Crew and Twins. It’s probably nice for players to hop a short flight and get both ends of the interleague series completed in one shot. But it’s a huge loss for fans that used to travel to the rival state for an entire weekend series – not to mention lost revenue for hotels, restaurants, and of course the teams. I’m a lot less likely to take a couple weekdays off from work to attend games in Minnesota – vacation days are precious and I’m certainly not the only one who feels that way. Just 17,597 at Target field last night, and that’s a far cry from when the Metrodome series would be packed all weekend. Crew fans are used to the guarantee of a game with a retractable dome, and that’s what made the Metrodome series an easy sell. You can also factor in the low expectation for the Brewers this season in last night’s low attendance. Yet I have to circle back to my original two game/weeknight argument. I attended the Metrodome series three separate times over a ten year period and enjoyed each trip. The atmosphere was festive and the crowds were a pretty even mix of fans for both teams. Here’s hoping someday the weekend border series will return – and perhaps butts in the seats to go with it.
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