Whenever I get writer’s block, I often go to my favorite Brewers’ columnist, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, to see what he’s writing about in his blog (the good folks at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel let Tom go beyond the realm of traditional reporting and let him write whatever is on his mind in a blog on their website, www.jsonline.com, without the oversight of an editor).
In said blog on Wednesday, Tom Haudricourt asked Brewers’ fans:
Which of these three items do you think is most important for the Brewers to solve in the second half:
1. The bullpen.
2. Rickie Weeks batting leadoff.
3. The last rotation spot between Seth McClung and Dave Bush.
My answer: None of the above.
Before I try to defend my answer, a few things of note–first, I tried to think of my biggest concern and then compared it to Tom’s offerings; I also came up with my worry before delving into the stats…so I may wind up changing my mind. Lastly, Tom’s #2 worry, Rickie Weeks, is a part of my worry…without further ado then:
What concerns me the most about The 2008 Milwaukee Brewers’ heading into the post All-Star break portion of their season is their offense and lack of run scoring ability.
My process of elimination, I want to quickly dismiss concern #3–Seth McClung or Dave Bush as the 5th starter. Both have done well of late–McClung is 4-4, 4.39 as a starter, but has a 3.74 ERA with 39 K’s to 17 BB’s since the end of May; Bush has a 2.72 ERA with 39 K’s to just 7 BB’s since the end of May as well. Brewers’ manager Ned Yost is contemplating platooning them, as Bush has a 2.49 ERA in Miller Park this year, while McClung has a 3.28 ERA on the road (but a 4.71 ERA as a starter on the road). Both will remain in the rotation until Jeff Suppan comes off the DL, and then Bush will likely get the nod over McClung if he continues to pitch well…if not, McClung will be ready to either come in in relief or replace him in the rotation.
I also think the criticism of the bullpen has been over exaggerated–Salomon Torres, now the closer, has 15 saves in 18 opportunities, and has a respectable 6.02 K/9 and a 2.74 ERA; the lefties–Brian Shouse and Mitch Stetter–have ERA’s of 1.91 and 2.45, respectively. Fans would argue that Guillermo Mota, David Riske, and Eric Gagne have been inconsistent at best this year–and I would agree–but Gagne has shown signs of improvement of late and they are working on Mota’s delivery. Riske’s has a decent July thus far, posting a 3.00 ERA in 6 IP. Carlos Villanueva has also been great out of the pen–1-0, 2.33 ERA with 29K’s to 5 BB’s and 23 hits in 27 IP. The Crew only has to weather the storm until the September call-ups will bring Tim Dillard and Luis Peña to the mix, so the pen will be above average, I believe, for the rest of the year.
Which brings me to my biggest concern–the offense. The Crew is currently 11th in the NL in BA at .254, and tied for 9th in OBP at
.323. Thankfully, they’re 7th in runs scored at 440 (average of 4.63 per game)…but division rival Chicago leads the league with 507 runs, averaging 0.7 additional runs per game than the Crew. The Phillies, Mets, Cardinals, and Marlins–all in the hunt for the Wild Card–have also scored more runs than the Brewers so far this year.
The Crew is also 9th in the NL in runs scored on the road, averaging 4.38 runs per game…fortunately, the Cubs have averaged 4.33 runs per game on the road. The Marlins, Cardinals, Mets, and Phillies, however, are 1-4 in the NL in runs scored on the road.
So…that’s my concern…anyone else worried about the offense?