The Good, Bad, and Ugly of April

MLB: Brewers vs Cardinals APR 09

April definitely provided the Brewers with plenty of headaches, but outside of the sub-.500 record, what are we going to remember about this month when we look back at the end of the year? Here’s what went right, what went wrong, and what blew up in the team’s face in the season’s first month:

The Good: Ryan Braun
The fact that the Brewers managed to finish 2nd in the National League in nearly every major offensive category despite the power slump of Prince Fielder is a testament to just how good Braun (and to a lesser extent, Casey McGehee) was. Heading into May, Braun leads the Brewers in batting average (.355), OBP (.430), slugging (.581), home runs (5), RBI (20), runs scored (19), and OPS (1.011).

Simply put, he’s been red hot for nearly the entire first month. I’d hate to think about where this team would be — and especially how bad the offense would be lately — if he wasn’t around to pick up the slack.

The Bad: Doug Davis and Jeff Suppan
It’s hard to be mad at Suppan for the fact that he was even put in the starting rotation in the first place. That’s a failure that should be put squarely on the shoulders of Ken Macha and Doug Melvin. It’s not Suppan’s fault management couldn’t see his skills had deteriorated before he got shelled in his two starts. With that said, he didn’t do the team any favors with his two starts against the Cubs. He did a decent enough job in mop-up duty for Davis the other night, but it’s pretty clear at this point that he shouldn’t be pitching in any meaningful innings as long as he’s still on the roster.

Davis has had a nice outing against the Cubs last week and looked very good again in the first few innings against the Padres the other day, but his body of work for April stunk, for lack of a better word. He only pitched 22.1 innings in his 5 starts, and has only had one start which resulted in a gamescore higher than the average point of 50. When the Brewers brought Davis back, we knew what we were getting — a guy who will strike out between 4 and 6 batters a game, but will also walk 2 or 3 and have quite a few short outings as a result. What we didn’t expect was a grand total of one quality start in the season’s first month.

The Ugly: Trevor Hoffman
Hoffman’s April implosion was equal parts infuriating and sad. In some games, he managed to get the other team down to their last out before it all fell apart. In others, it was clear from the start that he wasn’t right. We’ve been down this path with a shaky closer before, but this is the first time we’ve dealt with a finesse guy who can’t seem to locate his extremely hittable stuff — most of our experiences have come with guys who could throw 95 mph but never had good control in the first place.

We’ve talked about the puzzling lack of change-ups and the overuse of his fastball in the past week, and he’s explained the pitch selection as just trying to get ahead in the count. Of course, the problem comes when a.) he’s not getting the fastball over for strikes and b.) when the fastball is a strike, it’s not staying in the park.

With that said, let’s just hope that May is kinder towards the Brewers in every aspect of the game. It would be great to see Hoffman start the month with a few “clean” saves to calm the nerves of a lot of people, as would seeing Prince getting more to hit (and hit hard).

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