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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Now That May is Over...

This is not a post about the Brewers' recent roster moves, or even the latest garbage journalism to come out of ESPN related to the Biogenesis controversy. Rather, this is an account of where the Brewers stand as of the beginning of June, 2013, a time by which teams tend to have more-or-less settled into their roles within their divisions. Needless to say, the Brewers' role in 2013 is not good.

As of this writing the Brewers sit in last place in the NL Central, boasting a record of 22-35 with a winning percentage only better than the hapless Miami Marlins and Houston Astros (barely) across all of MLB. They're 15.5 games back of the division-leading Cardinals, and even a game and a half behind the Cubs (the CUBS!). Doug Melvin has publicly stated his team will not be trade deadline buyers, and likely will be sellers.

The offense has suffered some key injuries but the hitters have mostly met expectations (Rickie Weeks excepted). Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez, in particular, have played like MVP candidates. Indeed, their performances have been some of the only bright spots of this young season. Despite missing a month to injury, Aramis Ramirez has avoided his typical early-season slump. Ryan Braun has been Ryan Braun, though his power numbers have been somewhat lower than usual due to a nagging thumb injury that he's been playing through in typical Ryan Braun fashion.

The bullpen is much better than last year and was actually quite good throughout the month of May. Even John Axford, who again has had some struggles this year, has overall been fairly good. As of today he's pitched 12 consecutive scoreless outings, though his bad outings have skewed his numbers. Before landing on the DL Jim Henderson was perfect in save opportunities after taking over for Axford. The rest of the bullpen is about as good as we hoped they'd be at the start of the season.

The starters are another story. Yovani Gallardo's velocity has been down and generally he just hasn't pitched well. He's been no where near the "ace" the Brewers need him to be. Kyle Lohse, lack of run support notwithstanding, has so far not lived up to his billing. Wily Peralta has shown flashes of quality pitching but has been too inconsistent and pitch control has been evasive. He will improve but so far it's been a bit rough. Marco Estrada has been more like the Marco Estrada of 2010-11 than the Marco Estrada of 2012. Mike Fiers has simply been a disaster.

The starters have put the team behind too often and have failed to pitch deep into games, or even past the sixth inning, far too frequently. They're taxing the bullpen and if this continues those bullpen arms will go downhill fast come August and September. By September, though, the Brewers might be able to eat innings with a bunch of call-ups since they'll likely be nowhere near any kind of postseason run.

I'm ever the optimist, and I always think the Crew has a chance until they're mathematically eliminated, but this season has been rough. The month of May, in fact, was historically bad, with the Brewers tying the franchise's worst record of 6-22, set back in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots. I still enjoy watching them play, but I really hope they start winning some more games and make watching them more enjoyable. At this point even a .500 finish to the season seems tough and, with three very good teams in their division, a postseason birth nearly impossible. At this point my hope is they play competitive ball for the remainder of the season, have a respectable finish, and climb their way back above .500. Is that really so much to ask? If they perform closer to how they played in April than they did in May the answer is no.

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