Milwaukee’s woeful 17-34 start looks to be too deep of a hole to climb from in the wild-card race and certainly the NL Central after the All-Star break.
The Brewers’ 21-18 record since June 1 is encouraging for manager Craig Counsell but it is not enough for Milwaukee to think of a pennant race or postseason this year. The Brewers are 18 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central. They are a likely insurmountable 10 1/2 games from the wild card lead.
With only 71 games remaining, the Brewers (38-52) should think more of what lies ahead beyond this season. Winning at least 75 games overall would be considered a good finish after what took place in April and May.
After the All-Star break leading up to the July 31 deadline, most of the news surrounding Milwaukee will be about who they will deal away to improve their future.
All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez, who has converted all 19 of his save opportunities with a 1.41 ERA, is on the trading block. He is in the first year of a two-year deal worth $13 million.
Graphic via jsonline
Braun, who has 16 home runs and 56 RBI but is batting only .275, is signed through 2020 in the midst a seven-year, $105 million extension. That hefty contract and his 65-game suspension in 2013 for his connection to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug ordeal, does not make him an attractive talent for other teams.
Braun contributes nicely to Milwaukee’s attractive lineup, one that ranks fifth in the National League with 87 home runs and sixth in RBI (347).
Some contributors to that run production might wear a different uniform by season’s end. They include veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez, first baseman Adam Lind and outfielder Gerardo Parra.
Ramirez, in the last year of his contract, still has a live bat with 10 home runs and 39 RBI, although he is batting only .234. He could be a significant positive influence in the clubhouse of a contender down the stretch.
Parra is a utility outfielder who is an effective left-handed hitter. He is Milwaukee’s best hitter with a .309 average. He also leads Milwaukee with 21 doubles along with belting nine home runs.
Lind, another left-handed batter, is having one of the best seasons of his career with a .292 batting average and 15 home runs.
Another couple of players to keep an eye on before the July 31 trading deadline: Center fielder Carlos Gomez (whose contract expires after next season) and shortstop Jean Segura (tied with Braun for a team-high 12 stolen bases). Milwaukee’s top minor-league prospect is shortstop Orlando Arcia, who should merit a look by the Brewers in the big leagues much sooner than later.
With the season lost because of its slow start, Milwaukee must look to give its young talent more opportunities. Rookie right-hander Taylor Jungmann has cashed in on his chance. He is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in his seven starts.
His three-hitter against Los Angeles in a 7-1 win last Saturday was an unlikely performance for a pitching staff that ranks 12th among 15 National League teams with a 4.20 ERA.
Wily Peralta, a 17-game winner one season ago, should join Jungmann late this month. He is undergoing rehab starts at the Double-A level currently after suffering a left oblique injury. He was placed on the disabled list May 22.
Another starter, 30-year-old right-hander Mike Fiers, is not putting much fear into batters. He leads the team with 99 strikeouts in 100 innings, but he has only seven quality starts among his 18 starts. He has a 3.96 ERA. No other starter comes close as the others have at least a 4.21 ERA and higher. Milwaukee ends its season playing 20 of its last 24 games against NL Central opponents.
Graphic via reviewingthebrew.com