The Milwaukee Brewers (7-9) lost their series against the Colorado Rockies (8-7) two games to one. Several fans are beginning to worry what direction the team is heading in and what can be done to right the ship. At this point last season the Brewers were 10-9 and a half game out of first place in the division. This season Milwaukee is two games under .500 and four and a half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who lead the charge in the NL Central.
There are still 146 games left on the schedule so there is no reason to get overly excited, however, it is natural for fans to get anxious on the status of their team. It is important to take a series-by-series approach just like the professionals do. At that, here are five things Brewer fans should take away from the series against the Rockies.
1. The pitching is not what was expected
No matter what way you look at it the Brewers 2012 season is filled with high expectations. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the pitching staff as the team’s 4.91 ERA still remains at the bottom of the National League. The starting pitching has improved drastically as Shaun Marcum, Marco Estrada and Yovani Gallardo combined to surrender only five earned runs on 13 hits in 18 innings pitched against Colorado. However, closer John Axford and setup man Francisco Rodriguez, two relievers who are supposed to make up the strength of the bullpen, gave up runs while they both recorded losses this past weekend.
2. The offense showed capability
Even without Prince Fielder in the cleanup spot the Brewers have a very potent offense. They were able to score nine runs on nine hits in Saturday’s game which proves they are more than capable of putting up a crooked number. Unfortunately, they were only able to put up four runs in the other two games. Milwaukee is a team that feeds off of each other and when Nyjer Morgan, the most energized player in the clubhouse, is 5-for-39 at the plate, it is hard to have fun.
3. Lack of consistency continues
This basically ties in the first two points. The inconsistency in the Brewers play is frustrating for fans to watch, but even more difficult for the players. No matter what they do they cannot seem to get on the same page which is a big reason why they have lost nine out of 16 games this season. In Friday’s game the Brewers got the starting pitching, relief pitching and offense on the same page until Axford gave up the losing run in the ninth inning. The same thing happened on Sunday except it was Rodriguez who surrendered the lead. Manager Ron Roenicke and the coaching staff must figure out a way to get everyone clicking together before things get really out of hand.
4. Slumps continue
You know things are not going well when Ryan Braun is 0-16 at the plate. Braun did end his slump in a big way by hitting a home run, but his teammates continue to struggle with theirs. Several fans pegged this series as a way for Aramis Ramirez, Morgan and Rickie Weeks to break out of their funk. Weeks recorded two hits while Ramirez got one and Morgan got none. It is more important for Weeks to get hot because Braun needs players on base in front of him once he gets into a hot streak. Ramirez is the one who desperately needs to get going this season as he is the key to Milwaukee’s success this year. If he cannot protect Braun in the lineup then the Brewers are in big trouble. Morgan has only one hit in his last eight games stretching back to the first game of the Atlanta Braves series. At this rate it might be wise to play Norichika Aoki more.
5. Norichika Aoki is the real deal
Speaking of the Japanese sensation, Aoki proved in his start Friday night that he is the real deal. He went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, including an inside-the-park home run. His success is great for the Brewers and will only continue to give him more starts, especially with Morgan slumping as badly as he is. Aoki definitely brings something different to the team, which is important as the best baseball teams have several players contributing in different ways. He is an exciting player to watch and will continue to be a huge asset as the Brewers move forward this season.