3/28- 3/31 vs STL
The opening week of the 2019 season was emblematic of the 2018 Brewers in a small sample. Josh Hader being untouchable in relief, Lorenzo Cain’s defensive heroics, and Christian Yelich’s flat out stupefying prowess at the plate were the storylines of the week, much like last season.
Yelich’s Stats: (1.531 OPS, 4 HR, 8 RBI, .531 OBP)
The first series against St. Louis as a whole showed some serious star-power from both clubs. For Milwaukee, it was reigning MVP Christian Yelich who carried the load, becoming the sixth player in MLB history to homer in each of his team’s first four games. To illustrate just how ridiculous he has been since last season, since August 1, 2018, 45.5% of Yelich’s fly balls have left the ballpark for home runs.
So much for any regression that may have been expected from Yelich. “Yeli” capped off a tremendous series with a walk-off double in game four that electrified the Miller Park Sunday crowd. Along with him, Mike Moustakas hit well, with two home runs, and Josh Hader was brilliant in the closer’s role. Hader threw an immaculate inning on Sunday to close the series out and did not surrender a baserunner in 3 appearances.
8-hole hitter Orlando Arcia and newcomer Yasmani Grandal struggled offensively in this series for Milwaukee, going a combined 0-25 from the plate, but Grandal has established himself as one of the better offensive catchers in baseball over the past few seasons, and Orlando Arcia is one full season removed from hitting .277 with 15 home runs. Streaky hitters? Yes, but just one tough series is nothing to be too worried about going forward
The redbirds flexed their muscles this series at Miller Park as well, getting 4 home runs and 7 RBI from newly acquired first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Needless to say it will not be fun for the Brewers to see Goldschmidt on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. Aside from Goldy, second baseman Kolten Wong had a strong series for St. Louis, going 8/14 (.571) from the plate and hitting 3 home runs. Offense via the home run ball was plentiful for the Cardinals this series, but simply an inability to come out on top in close game scenarios was their undoing, resulting in a 3-1 series win for Milwaukee
4/1-4/3 @ CIN
In a series that featured three one-run ball games, Milwaukee came out on top in all three to complete the three game sweep. In the series finale on Wednesday, 22-year-old Freddy Peralta carried the load in a game in a career performance where the offense was unable to provide any insurance after getting out to a 1-0 start. From start to finish, it was his best outing as a big leaguer and it was great to see Peralta oozing with confidence after a rough first start of the season back in Milwaukee.
Offensively, Jesus Aguilar was a key offensive contributor in this series, along with noted Reds-killer Ryan Braun, who had two hits, including the game-winning RBI in the first game of the series. Orlando Arcia also broke out of his early slump on Tuesday with a 3-run, opposite field home run for his first hit of the season. Look for the young shortstop to start to return to his 2018 postseason form in the near future. Confidence is everything for Arcia.
Given the close nature of this series, it is clear the Reds are in a better spot now than they were at this time last year. They may not have gotten any wins to show for it, but it is clear their pitching staff has improved alongside an already potent offense.
For Milwaukee, a 6-1 record is nothing to scoff at, however, five of their wins have been by just one run, and the other was by only two. The Crew can’t expect to come out on top in every close game this season, so it will be imperative to create more insurance runs late in games in order to limit the stress of the pitching staff. Also of note, Milwaukee has only committed one error in their first seven games, which is first in the NL. Sharp defense has been a key part of their success in nail-biter games. Keep up the good work, MKE.