The Milwaukee Brewers have gone flat during the second half of this season. What once looked like a World Series contender, now struggles to remain in the Wild Card race. While the race for the NL Central Division is heating up, the Brewers are getting cold at the wrong time.
Since having an incredible playoff run in 2018, the Brewers have failed to pick up momentum during the second half of the 2019 season. While the Brewers have been in a tight race for the division, they approach September on the outside looking in. As the team was poised to take the division early on, they have produced back to back months playing just below .500 baseball. With many games against the rival Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, they very much control their own destiny. With the end of the season fast approaching, the Brewers are still in the hunt for a Wild Card Spot.
While the Brewers had a top pitching staff in 2018 under the likes of Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader, and Jhoulys Chacin, the 2019 pitching staff is just below average. Now two of those arms have been released by the team due to poor performance this season. The Brewers were in need of a starting pitcher at the trade deadline but failed to obtain one. Not having a starter that was as good as Chacin was in 2018 (3.5 ERA with 192.2 IP), has harmed their chances and exhausts the bullpen. The pitching staff is mediocre which raises concerns if they can get to October.
On the other hand, Milwaukee’s bullpen has seen their fair share of poor outings. The Brewers bullpen has allowed 4.98 runs per game. They have blown 21 out of 58 save opportunities. It’s too late to acquire new pitchers, so the Brewers should maybe try a call-up to spark the rotation. With the rosters expanding to 40 players the help the Brewers need has to come from within.
Offensive prowess defined the 2018 Brewers. The Brewers plan was simple, score runs early and rely on their deep bullpen. While this approach is not always effective, it does make for exciting baseball. One of the biggest differences offensively between 2018 and 2019 seems to be the run production. The 2018 season shows that the Brewers scored a lot of runs while only giving up a few. As of September 1, the 2019 Brewers are one of the few contenders with a negative run differential.
In 2018, the Brewers had a Win Above Replacement (WAR) of 7.8. This season, the team WAR is down to – 2.7. With non-pitcher WAR dropping from 11.1 in 2018 to 0.6. Players with the most significant drops are Lorenzo Cain, Jesus Aguilar, and Orlando Arcia. Aguilar was traded in 2019 but Eric Thames isn’t as good as Aguilar was in 2018. Players such as Travis Shaw have also taken steps back in 2019. While the Brewers have seen improvements from Mike Moustakas and rookie Keston Huira, it hasn’t been enough.
The Brewers hitting ranks among the league average in almost every statistic. Christian Yelich once again is in the running to win the National League’s Most Valuable Player. It is unfortunate that several of his teammates have taken steps back from the 2018 season.
While it may be too late for the Brewers to win the division, they can still earn a Wild Card spot. The Brewers are three and a half games back of the Cubs for that final Wild Card Spot. With 26 games left in the season, their odds are slim but still within the realm of possibility. The Brewers had a magical run last season. With some of those same players still in that locker room, it makes you wonder if they can find that magic from last year. While the fans are ready to go on a run the pressure is on in Milwaukee this September.