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The Crew’s Astounding Rebuilding Pace

As we have time to reflect now over this All-Star break, let’s review the Brewers past several games. A slugfest and crushing sweep against the Orioles, a blowout game in Wrigley, and finally a deciding series take in Yankee Stadium against one of the MLB’s hottest teams. The Brewers, despite criticisms that their first place lead is very temporary, continue to push forward. A team that was expected to win around 70 games all season has already 50 at the break, and controls the NL Central by 5.5 games. These astounding results show just how quickly the Brewers rebuild has been able to take place and how it still has so much room for improvement. As a result, even if the Brewers do fall out of first-place, or even contention, they are still winners in the long run.

Deadline Decisions

Very few sports fans would have predicted the Brewers would be more buyers than sellers by the trade deadline. David Stearns told the press recently that the Brewers were looking for starting pitching. This announcement now comes as no surprise as the Brewers continue to show why they are legitimate contenders. Stearns, whose moves have continued to pay off, will look to add controllable players such as Sonny Gray, and Jose Quintana that will not only aid the Brewers in this year’s run, but also further down the road.

Prospect Pileup

Stearns quest for young, controllable players continues to pay off with the massive improvements made by prospects since joining the Brewers. Young players such as Orlando Arcia, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, Zach Davies, and Manny Piña are anchoring a team full of surprising depth. Several of these young players were not expected to contribute so soon at such an efficient rate. These soon to be well-known names will represent the future of a Brewers organization on the rise.

Free Agent and Waiver Moves

In addition to prospects, Stearns, and the Brewers front office have done an excellent job-adding players off of the waiver wire, as well as through interesting moves in free agency. Jesus Aguilar, Hernan Perez, Junior Guerra, and most recently, Stephen Vogt are all major contributors that came at minor prices for their levels of production. Vogt a two-time All-Star had a poor start to the season before he joined the Brewers, but he has been a steady source of power in Milwaukee. Vogt is only 30 years old and still has time to show he can return to All-Star form and become a reliable catcher for the Brewers.

 

In terms of free agency signings, Eric Thames, from Korea, despite dropping off since the beginning of the season has been a major face of the rebuild, and shares time with Jesus Aguilar who continues to prove he could be an everyday first-basemen. This was most recently seen with his grand slam against the Yankees.

Pitching Flexibility

Besides the excellent off-season moves and trades that have occurred over the past two years of rebuild, the Brewers coaching staff must be praised for their strategy, especially with pitching. Pitching prospects continue to show flexibility in where they come up in Milwaukee as they are coached to come in from both starting and relief roles, and continue to be placed whether is best seen fit for the time being. Top prospects such as Josh Hader, and Brewers starting pitcher Brent Suter, are both very flexible players who can excel at pitching no matter where they are placed in the rotation or bullpen.

Chemistry and A Look Forward

While the second-half of the season approaches and fears of the Brewers holding on in the Central continue to be discussed, let’s remember how far the Brewers have come and how much better they still can get. This is not a one and done season, this is part of a process that can still reach a much better product a number of years down the road. The Brewers excellent chemistry, home run power, and speed highlight its new characteristics. While, strikeouts and errors are still high, this is natural for a young team and will definitely be improved upon for years to come. The Crew have controllable things to fix, and have numerous attributes that are only natural that will continue to aid this team such as their bonds, and ability. Look forward to the Crew continuing to prosper in the second-half, and keep in mind this is far from a finished product.

(Statistics per ESPN.com)

King of the Diamond- Week of 6/26-7/2

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Crew had another average week, finishing 3-3 with a 2-1 series win over the Marlins but a 1-2 series loss to the Reds. Milwaukee remains atop the sub-par NL Central, but both the Cubs and Cardinals are now just one game back in the loss column.

King of the Diamond- Orlando Arcia

Image result for orlando arcia

Arcia’s hot bat earns him back-to-back King of the Diamond awards. The young Brewer has now homered in back-to-back games, and his batting average has jumped from .268 to .288 over the past week. Arcia went 11/21 at the plate this past week including three home runs. With the Cubs and Cardinals slowly closing the gap on the division, the Brewers will need Arcia’s hot bat to finish the first half of the season strong.

King of the Diamond- Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

Image result for andrew mccutchen

Andrew McCutchen grabs his first divisional King of the Diamond award this week. The Pirates remain eight games under .500 and six games behind the Brewers for the NL Central lead, but McCutchen’s play as of late might turn that around. McCutchen hasn’t had a great year but heated up in the past week. His batting average rose from .272 to .282 after going 8/16 at the plate since last Monday. When McCutchen wasn’t hitting his way on base, he was still able to find other ways to do so, as he drew six walks this past week. The 30-year-old appears to have found his swing again which could be just what the Pirates need to get back into the playoff hunt.

 

Brewers Week In Review: 6/27-7/2

The Brewers, again, entered this past week with a division lead over Chicago still intact. Cubs fans around social media continued to argue “this won’t last much longer, when the Cubs get hot, the Brewers are going down.” However, that continues not to be the case, as yet another up and down week (this time 3-3) still has resulted in a 2 game division stronghold heading into Monday’s contests. However, a one-game showdown with the Cubs in Wrigley looms, so the Crew’s next series against Baltimore and those after it remain all the more critical.

Now, it’s time for a look at the week ahead.

The Week Ahead

Upcoming series: vs. Baltimore (7/3-7/5), @ Chicago (7/6), @ NY Yankees (7/7-7/9)

Pitching matchups vs. Baltimore: Wade Miley (3-6, 4.54 ERA) vs. Brent Suter (0-1, 4.20 ERA); Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 6.48 ERA) vs. Jimmy Nelson (6-4, 3.43 ERA); Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.90 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (3-4, 4.36 ERA)

Pitching matchups at Chicago: Zach Davies (9-4, 5.03 ERA) vs. Mike Montgomery (1-5, 2.80 ERA)

Players to Watch: Orlando Arcia and Zach Davies

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner: Orlando Arcia

For the second week in a row, the Rollie Fingers award goes to Orlando Arcia. Yes, I know, I can’t just give it to him every week (and don’t worry, I won’t). However, he once again deserves it. From delivering a perfect cut off throw to nail down J.T. Realmuto at home plate and prevent the tying run from scoring to continuing his hot-hitting ways (hitting over .340 since mid-May), Arcia again showed why he is more than deserving of this award. Maybe, just maybe, someone can dethrone him next week.

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Stephen Vogt

Since being claimed off of waivers by Milwaukee on June 25th, the former Athletics catcher has already endeared himself quite well to the Brewers faithful. For one, he collected his first hit and RBI as a Brewer in his first start, a 4-3 loss at Cincinnati, where his RBI sac fly was pulled back into the yard by Scott Schebler on what looked to be a sure home run. Vogt then likely thought “well, I’ll just hit some at home” and did just that, with his first two hits at home leaving the yard and providing all Brewers RBIs in a 3-2 win over the Marlins. He even received a curtain call for his efforts following the second blast.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Jimmy Nelson

While last week’s winner Corey Knebel could have been selected again on the back of a record-tying appearance against Miami and the club’s sole All-Star nod, Nelson’s start this week could not be ignored. Against a powerful Reds lineup in Cincinnati which includes bats such as Joey Votto and the aforementioned Scott Schebler, Nelson shut them down over seven innings, only giving up two earned runs while walking only one and striking out eleven. The start also lowered his ERA to his current 3.43, and he will hope to continue his series of strong starts against Baltimore on July 4th.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .282, 15 2B, 6 3B, 14 HR, 54 RBI, 2 SB

Ryan Cordell (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): .284, 18 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 4 Prospect): 3-4, 3.79 ERA, 59.1 IP, 54 K, 24 BB, 1.21 WHIP, .223 Opponent AVG

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .276, 14 2B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 31 SB (Called up to AAA Colorado Springs)

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 20 Prospect): 2-1, 1.53 ERA, 29.1 IP, 32 K, 5 BB, 0.75 WHIP, .165 AVG

 

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect): .251, 18 2B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 18 SB at A Adv Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 23 Prospect): .252, 10 2B, 2 HR, 22 RBI, 6 SB at A Wisconsin

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .279, 25 2B, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 7 SB at A Adv Carolina

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 29 Prospect): 1-2, 6.67 ERA, 29.2 IP, 33 K, 16 BB, 1.58 WHIP, .267 AVG at Adv A Carolina

The Emergence of Travis Shaw

Background

David Stearns’ managerial magic has been showing all season with the rewards of a bevy of trades from the season before, leaving the team with their several well-known players being replaced by numerous top prospects. One of the trades last season among the blockbusters that included the departure of Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, and Khris Davis, was the decision to move Tyler Thornburg to the Boston Red Sox.

Thornburg, a very good reliever for the Brewers was traded to a contender that needed him, in exchange for three players including short-lived Major Leaguer, Travis Shaw. As this season reaches its midway point, this lesser known trade has become one of Stearns’ defining decisions in bringing in a cornerstone third-basemen for the Milwaukee Brewers. While Thornburg is still yet to pitch an inning for the Red Sox because of an injury, Shaw has become one of the most important players of the Brewers overhauled roster.

Performance

Over the last few games, Travis Shaw has shown time and time again why he should be considered for this year’s National League All-Star team. Batting .294 with 17 Home Runs, including three in his past three games as of June 30, Shaw has put on a show for Brewers fans. “The Mayor of Ding Dong City” came to the team without a clear starting role, but he has now established in himself as the Brewers third basemen and maybe the most reliable and effective hitter while Ryan Braun was on the DL.

Shaw’s stats resemble other top NL 3B including Nolan Arenado, who he currently ties in wOBA. His home run total is already more than he had the previous year and with half as many games played. The left-handed hitter has been a major source of consistency for the Brewers down the road. He also continues to show improvement as his strikeout to hit ratio continues to decrease, and his power surges.

Looking On

With the Brewers holding his contract until at least 2021, Stearns has found another face of a rebuilding team that can continue to grow while maintaining a realistic payroll. Stearns continues to target players that the Brewers can control and develop so that several years down the road, there will be pieces for a serious title run. His approach can be read about further in this earlier article. As it stands right now, it seems the Brewers are much closer to this plan than expected as they continue to hold their own atop the NL Central in part because of a potential All-Star in Travis Shaw.

(NL Central Standings Per ESPN.com)

Brewers Minor League Review: June

Note: Stats reflect June performances unless otherwise noted.

With the Brewers’ starting to make more and more moves within the organization, the minor league system has become more tantalizing and important than ever before. Just in June alone, five of the club’s top-30 prospects (according to MLB.com) have seen time in the majors. Let’s take a look at how the Brewers’ stockpile of homegrown talent is faring.

Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA)

Record: 49-30 overall, 20-10 in June

MVP: Garrett Cooper (.366/.443/.683, 6 HR, 24 RBI)

Summary: In June, the Sky Sox continued their early season surge towards the top of the standings. They lead the Pacific Coast League in winning percentage (.620) and look to be one of the most talented teams in all of minor league baseball. With the recent promotion of highly-regarded prospect Mauricio Dubon, ranked #9 in the Brewers’ system according to MLB.com, this team could be getting even more dangerous.

One cause for concern for the club could be the uncertain status of many of its top players. Outfielders Lewis Brinson (.362/.422/.672, 4 HR, 16 RBI) and Brett Phillips (.257/.316/.514) both experienced call-ups this month, and top pitchers Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff seem to be in the big leagues for good. While this is good for the Brewers, it may hurt the success of the Sky Sox down the road.

Otherwise, the team seems to be a well-oiled machine. Ivan De Jesus remains a key contributor, accumulating a .967 OPS in June, with Michael Blazek (2-2, 3.72 ERA) and Taylor Jungmann (4-1, 1.61 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) anchoring the rotation. Bubba Derby could provide some additional rotational firepower, as he went 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two spot starts and could see a full-time promotion to Triple-A.

Biloxi Shuckers (AA)

Record: 40-37, 13-12 in June

MVP: Corbin Burnes (2-1, 1.53 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 32 K in 29.1 IP)

Summary: While the Shuckers lost arguably their best player to Triple-A in Mauricio Dubon, they gained a new one in starting pitcher Corbin Burnes. Burnes dominated in five June starts for Biloxi, and continues his breakout as a premier pitching prospect. Top prospect Luis Ortiz displayed his potential in three June starts by pitching to a 1.31 ERA, and Aaron Wilkerson (2-1, 3.45 ERA) remained steady.

Nick Ramirez proved to be perhaps the biggest story out of Biloxi in June. Converted from first base to pitcher in the offseason, he played both sides of the ball extremely well throughout the month. He went 2-0 in 8 relief appearances totaling 18.1 innings, achieving a pristine 0.49 ERA. In addition, he has hit 2 home runs in pinch hit, including a grand slam. Anyone else think this is the second-coming of Brooks Kieschnick?

Some of the Shuckers’ hitters have begun to show life after a slow two months. Catcher Jacob Nottingham has rebounded after a rough start, hitting .317/.391/.533 with 2 HR and 11 RBI. Former first-rounder Clint Coulter hit .268/.321/.479 with 4 HR and 14 RBI, and shortstop Blake Allemand slashed .333/.370/.524.

The Shuckers could see some of the Brewers top prospects at Class-A Advanced Carolina join the roster later this month, with outfielder Corey Ray and pitcher Cody Ponce looking at potential promotions based on their trajectory and performance.

Carolina Mudcats (Class-A Advanced)

Record: 41-36, 13-13 in June

MVP: Lucas Erceg (.326/.362/.463, 2 HR, 20 RBI)

Summary: Even though this team houses several of the organization’s top prospects, they have to some degree failed to live up to the hype thus far in the season. Jake Gatewood has cooled off after his torrid start (.207/.295/.359), Isan Diaz has slumped dramatically (.129/.279/.171), and Corey Ray has dropped off somewhat (.230/.330/.368). Trent Clark has shown some improvement, posting a solid slash-line of 247/.411/.384, and Monte Harrison has proven formidable for the level in the six games since his call-up from Class-A Wisconsin, hitting .250/.333/.458 in an extremely small sample size.

The pitching staff certainly took a hit with the promotions of the staff ace Corbin Burnes and the always electric Freddy Peralta. This was supposed to be offset by the addition of Trey Supak from Class-A Wisconsin, but he has struggled thus far (1-2, 6.67 ERA in 6 games). Cody Ponce has been the rock of the staff, going 2-1 with a 4.18 ERA, and Jordan Yammamoto has been a close second (1-1, 3.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP). On the back-end, closer Nate Griep has been dominant, saving six of seven opportunities in June to bring his season total to 16, sporting a 1.93 ERA on the year as a result.

It is easy to read this information as slightly pessimistic, but it should be taken in the exact opposite way. The Mudcats are nowhere near playing to their potential, and they are still hanging in the hunt for first place in their division. If the prospects mentioned above start firing on all cylinders, and other intriguing prospects like Troy Stokes and Marcos Diplan find their form, this team could easily cruise to a second-half title and a playoff berth.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Class-A)

Record: 30-47, 7-21 in June

MVP: Zack Brown (2.66 ERA in 5 games, 3 started.

Summary: It was very difficult to find an MVP for this team, let me be honest. Ronnie Gideon was second-place, and that’s with a .239 average in June. The Timber Rattlers simply do not boast the talent the rest of the organization does, especially considering many of last year’s top draftees (Ray, Erceg, Burnes) have moved up the ladder quickly. They should get a boost once the first wave of promotions occurs for the recently drafted players. Expect first rounder Keston Hiura to highlight that group once he completes the throwing program set out for him with the Arizona League Brewers.

Ronnie Gideon (.239/.329/.537, 5 HR) and Tucker Neuhaus (.225/.281/.388, 4 HR) led the offense, with 2016 5th-rounder Zack Brown leading the way for the pitching staff with a 2.66 ERA in five games (three starts).

The Timber Rattlers at this point should focus on developing the potential that exists. Players like Tucker Neuhaus, Demi Orimoyle, and Mario Feliciano have considerable ceilings, and the experience is what matters at this point, not the win/loss columns.

Wily Peralta: How Did We Get Here?

A lot can happen in just three years, just ask Wily Peralta. In the 2014 season he finished with a 17-11 record and a 3.53 ERA, a really nice season for the then 25 year old. With a season like that, there were some lofty expectations. Fast forward to 2017 and Peralta is on the 10 day DL and the Milwaukee Brewers’ fan base is calling for his head. It seems inconceivable that things could go so wrong so quickly, but they have. How did we get to this point? What lead us from this:

To this:

This isn’t meant to be an “Old Takes Exposed” sort of thing, because everyone truly believed that Peralta had a bright future with the Milwaukee Brewers. Unfortunately, as great as 2014 was, 2015, 2016, and 2017 showed us that that is likely not the case.

It’s hard to be so dismissive of someone like Wily, though. A 97 mph fastball and a slider can be a nasty combination. Still, most of 2016 was a struggle for Wily, but he didn’t necessarily have any deep-rooted analytical stats that that could help pinpoint the issue. He didn’t walk a ton of guys, he didn’t lose anything on his pitches, and there wasn’t a discernable difference in where he was placing his pitches. This is where you start to find the problem. Since his debut he has had the 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, and slider combination. Sure he can throw a changeup, but where it ends up is anyone’s guess. It could be in the catcher’s glove or it could be 450 feet the other way. The point is, Wily hasn’t grown as a pitcher and one has to wonder if he put in the effort as well. A lot of pitchers are able to add to their arsenal and make adjustments; we haven’t seen that from Peralta in 5 years.

To his credit, as much as he struggled last season he finished on a strong note. His last 10 starts saw him garner just a 2.92 ERA, seven Ks per nine innings, and around two walks per nine innings, so there was reason to have hope for 2017. As we know, that hope was violently squashed. The quality pitching did not carry over to the next season, and it’s clear why. Predictability can kill pitchers, and that’s what is happening. If major league hitters are seeing the same two or three pitches every at-bat, it’s guaranteed that they will start to key in on what is coming next. Especially if they get to see him three or four times a game. Well, the Brewers thought they could fix that when they moved him to the bullpen. Maybe if Wily is only used in relief situations, hitters won’t be seeing his same stuff over and over. It’s sound logic. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case, things got worse. The second above Tom Haudricourt tweet will show just how bad things got.  Peralta used to pitch to contact and get a lot of ground balls, over time that stopped being the case. He’s never been a strikeout machine, so where do the outs come from? Eventually they don’t. That’s how you end up with a 7.21 ERA.   As much as I don’t want to cast Wily off the island, the options are narrowing down. It’s coming down to letting him go or sending him back down in hopes he can have a 2016 type resurgence. The issue with the latter option is that he has to be designated for assignment. If that’s the route the Brewers take, because he would be DFA he could be picked up by other teams. If no other team picks him up, he would then be on the Sky Sox.

The Brewers have to ask themselves some hard questions. Can they allow him to work out of this funk in the majors? That’s a risky move considering how wide open the NL Central is currently. If he stays the same, he would surely cost the team some games that they cannot afford to lose. If he does improve, can you trust it? Would it be worth bringing him back again next season to see if the improvement is sustainable or would they try to trade him for anything they possibly could? There are a lot of different roads that this can take, and the shortest one is to wash your hands of him. It’s cutthroat, but that’s the business. Wily had some moments for the team but this is now three seasons in a row where it’s hard to be encouraged by what you have seen. I think the option both parties, and fans included, are hoping for is that when Wily returns he has some things figured out. The bullpen needs an arm that can get a few innings, and keep us in games or hold onto the lead. If Wily can return and be that guy, it would be unexpected and feel like a miracle but this is baseball we’re talking about. This has been a season full of surprises in Milwaukee, what’s one more?

The Return of Ryan Braun

The Brewers have had Ryan Braun’s bat in the lineup for just 30 of the teams 78 games so far this season. That makes the Brewers first place start all that more of a surprise. The naysayers don’t seem to think that the Brewers need Braun or that they’re better off without him. I understand people’s dislike for him, but to think that the Milwaukee Brewers are better without him is absolutely foolish. If Braun is healthy, he’s going to hit at an elite level.

image via Bleacher Report

Since May, Ryan Braun has only played in six games. He did however play in 24 games in April and was off to a very solid start. He hit seven homeruns, drove in 18 runs, and had an OPS of 960. I know it’s hard to believe people truly think that the Brewers don’t need a player that produces like that in the middle of the lineup. You know who doesn’t think that? Eric Thames. Thames had an absolutely historic April hitting .345, with 11 homers, 19 runs knocked in, and an OPS of 1.276. Obviously it wasn’t realistic for him to stay on that pace, but there maybe something to his struggles. Since Ryan Braun got hurt in May, Eric Thames has seen his numbers drop significantly. I’m not taking anything away from what he has done so far because he has been great. Shattering any expectations that the Brewers could have had for him going in the season. In the month of May, Thames only hit three homers with a batting average of only 221 and an OPS of 791. He got his power stroke back this month hitting six homers, giving him 20 on the season. However, so far in June he has only hit 179 with an OPS of 722. Eric Thames is still going to draw walks and hit homers, but the numbers speak for themselves, he’s a better hitter when hitting in front of Ryan Braun.

image via JSonline

The bottom line is if the Brewers want to stay in the division race all season, they are going to need contributions from everybody, including Ryan Braun. Everybody in the Brewers lineup will benefit with him in the lineup. It doesn’t matter if it’s the guys hitting in front of him seeing better pitches or guys in the bottom of the order hitting with him on base, everybody benefits.

King of the Diamond- Week of 6/19-6/25

If this is your first time checking out King of the Diamond pieces, here’s what you can look forward to seeing:

Every Monday we will look at which Milwaukee Brewer stood out from a game changing performance, or provided consistent production over the previous week. We will do the same for one other player within the NL Central (Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates).

The Crew put together a sub-par 3-4 week with a split series with the Pirates and a 1-2 series loss to the Braves. Milwaukee remains with the division lead, but the defending champion Chicago Cubs now sit just three games back in the win column. Thankfully, the remainder of the underachieving division is still too inconsistent to have any contenders outside of Milwaukee and Chicago.

King of the Diamond- Orlando Arcia

Image result for orlando arcia brewers

Arcia picks up his first ever King of the Diamond award after having a consistent week at the plate. Arcia also showed off his defensive skills to seal a win against Pittsburgh earlier in the week (Video link). Over the past week, Arcia has hit safely in six of seven games, including five doubles, and has seen his average increase from .255 to .268 in that short period of time. The young Brewer continues to improve his game both offensively and defensively and will hopefully be Milwaukee’s shortstop for a long time.

King of the Diamond- Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs

Image result for ian happ

Ian Happ picks up our divisional King of the Diamond award this time around. Happ has been on an offensive onslaught all week long, which came out of nowhere. Prior to this week, Happ was sitting with a .215 BA for the season. After his destruction of opposing pitchers, Happ now sits with a .262 BA. The Cubs are going to need Happ to continue his inclined production if they hope to keep pace with the Brewers for the division lead.

Brewers Week In Review: 6/19-6/25

The Brewers came into the week with their division lead over Chicago intact and riding high off of two straight series victories the previous week. However, this would be much more of a roller coaster week for the Crew, as they went just 3-4, but also kept their spot atop the Central (1.5 games up as of 6/26). After dropping the first two games of a four-game set to Pittsburgh at Miller Park, a defensive masterpiece by Orlando Arcia followed by a 3-RBI game by Travis Shaw saved the series split for the Crew. Then, in their first visit to the newly christened SunTrust Park for a series with the Braves, Milwaukee took a couple of hard losses before the bats exploded in the series finale with a 7-0 beatdown of Julio Teheran and the Braves, as all 7 runs came in the first four innings.

Now, having recapped the previous week for the Brewers, it’s time for a look at the week ahead.

The Week Ahead

Upcoming series: @ Cincinnati (6/27-6/29), vs. Miami (6/30-7/2)

Pitching matchups @ Cincinnati: Junior Guerra (1-1, 3.11 ERA) vs. Tim Adleman (4-4, 4.30 ERA); Chase Anderson (6-2, 2.92 ERA) vs. Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.60 ERA); Jimmy Nelson (5-4, 3.50 ERA) vs. Homer Bailey (0-1, 43.20 ERA)

Pitching matchups vs. Miami: All starters TBA

Players to Watch: Ryan Braun and Chase Anderson

Weekly Awards

Rollie Fingers Award for First-Team All-Swagger (player that went out “balls to the wall”)

Winner: Orlando Arcia

Up until this season, Orlando Arcia was widely regarded as the most promising prospect in a Milwaukee Brewers system known for its share of promising prospects. While his fielding has been on full display this season (see the game-ending web gem from June 21st against the Pirates), but his bat has also started to come around. After entering the Pirates series last Monday at .254 on the season, Arcia enters a new stretch of games hitting .268 following a nice 9-for-22 week. Not to mention, though it came in a loss, he also hit an inside-the-park home run, and what gets more “balls to the wall” than that?

The Robin Yount Award for Pure and Utter Dominance (Most Dominant Player)

Winner: Travis Shaw

Once again, Travis Shaw’s recent performance at the plate has Milwaukee fans everywhere saying “Thank You, Boston!” Shaw continued to show why he is deserving of representing the Crew in Miami for the 2017 All-Star game. While the Brewers as a whole had a relatively up and down week, Shaw had a very solid 7 games, hitting 3 home runs and adding 6 RBIs to bring his season totals in those categories to 15 and 53, respectively. His two-run blast Sunday against Atlanta was particularly impressive, as the third baseman hit a bomb to right field that hit on top of a concourse restaurant, a spot which a ball had not reached yet this year at SunTrust Park.

The Ben Sheets Award for Best Heat (Best Pitcher)

Winner: Corey Knebel

While Chase Anderson’s start against Pittsburgh in the series finale (6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 K) was certainly impressive, it is the man who has been Milwaukee’s most shutdown pitcher all year that gets the nod. While Knebel was not as dominant in terms of strikeouts as has been expected this season (2 Ks in 2.0 IP), he still found his way into Major League history. With his strikeout of Josh Bell in Thursday’s victory, Knebel passed Aroldis Chapman for the MLB record of consecutive games with a strikeout as a reliever to start a season at 38 (Chapman’s record was 37). Will Knebel continue his streak in the weeks and possibly months to come? When will it end, or will it end at all? These are questions that will soon be answered, but for now, we will continue to watch.

Prospect Update

AAA: Colorado Springs

Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 10 Prospect): .281, 14 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 2 SB

Ryan Cordell (Brewers No. 16 Prospect): .282, 18 2B, 5 3B, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB

AA: Biloxi Shuckers

Luis Ortiz (Brewers No. 4 Prospect): 3-3, 3.02 ERA, 53.2 IP, 49 K, 24 BB, 1.10 WHIP, .189 Opponent AVG

Mauricio Dubon (Brewers No. 9 Prospect): .276, 14 2B, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 31 SB

Corbin Burnes (Brewers No. 20 Prospect): 2-0, 0.76 ERA, 23.2 IP, 26 K, 5 BB, 0.63 WHIP, .128 AVG

A: Carolina Mudcats/Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

Corey Ray (Brewers No. 2 Prospect): .262, 16 2B, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 17 SB at A Adv Carolina

Mario Feliciano (Brewers No. 23 Prospect): .257, 10 2B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB at A Wisconsin

Jake Gatewood (Brewers No. 25 Prospect): .288, 23 2B, 10 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB at A Adv Carolina

Trey Supak (Brewers No. 29 Prospect): 2-2, 1.76 ERA, 41.0 IP, 53 K, 10 BB, 1.61 WHIP at Adv A Carolina

 

What It’s Like Being a Milwaukee Sports Fan

The city of Milwaukee is one of if not the most tortured sports cities in America.  If you take away the Packers (who play in Green Bay), the city has 2 teams that have combined for a single championship.  The Bucks won that championship in 1971.  In 1982 the Brewers made the World Series, but lost.  The Cream City has gone 46 years without a league championship.

What’s interesting is despite the drought, Milwaukee fans are among the best in sports.  They are very knowledgeable about the games the teams play, they are incredibly friendly, and they are committed to their teams.  You can get into an hour-long conversation about basketball at a Bucks game.  Even Cubs fans will get invited to a tailgate at Miller Park during the I-94 Rivalry series.  Above all, the love the people of Milwaukee have for their teams is unmatched.

You would expect fans to either not care or switch to more successful teams after decades of losing, but that is not the case in Milwaukee.  Even when the Bucks were the NBA’s punchline the players were showered with affection.  That stays true today with a rising team.  Giannis Antetokounmpo is becoming one of the most loved athletes in Wisconsin.  As for the Brewers, ever since they came into existence they have had great attendance.  Going to a Brewers game is almost a sacred tradition in Milwaukee.  In 2008 and 2011 the entire state was going crazy about the Brewers.  The 2011 Brewers had some of the most lovable and fun players ever.  I can clearly remember one day at school in 2008.  We had over an hour until the final bell, but the teachers decided the learning could wait.  We watched the beginning of the Brewers game vs the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Brewers had been losing for years, but for a few days in the fall of 2008, nothing was more important than cheering on the Crew.  I was so excited when they won a game in that series.  Even though they lost the series, that will always be one of my favorite memories of the Brewers.  My favorite is the Nyjer Morgan walk off that got the Brewers into the NLCS.

Another major part of being a Milwaukee sports fan is realizing that your teams get no coverage in the national media.  If you watch Sportscenter or any other national sports show, you can easily go a couple of weeks without seeing the Bucks or Brewers be discussed on there.  Even now with a very exciting Brewers team and a rising star on the Bucks, very little attention is being paid to Milwaukee’s teams.  Believe it or not, I’m fine with that.  I don’t want a media circus distracting our players.  We saw what happened with Ryan Braun a few years ago.  I don’t want that to ever happen again.

Being a fan of Milwaukee sports is not easy.  We haven’t seen a championship in 46 years.  Our teams get no respect anywhere outside of Wisconsin.  Even with the history of losing that has been synonymous with “Milwaukee sports”, now is a very exciting time to be a fan.  The Bucks are on the rise.  The playoff series against Toronto showed that the Bucks can win, they just need a little more experience.  Once they get that, the NBA better watch out.  The Brewers have promising young players like Orlando Arcia.  They are still rebuilding, but this year they are in 1st place in the NL Central and are looking like more than just a rebuilding team.  In a couple of years, we could see them not just compete for the playoffs, but possibly the division and beyond.  For years now both teams have talked about the future.  It’s clear the future is coming soon, and when it does we could see a new era of Milwaukee sports.  It will be a fun ride, and I’m ready for it.