Roenicke has struggled to find the perfect lineup that will give his team a fighting chance to win games. Every single contest has fielded a different lineup for the Brewers, which has to make fans wonder, how can a team win games when they do not even know who is going to be playing that day?
Is it going to be Norichika Aoki in center field or Nyjer Morgan? Will Corey Hart be playing first base or will Travis Ishikawa finally get some much deserved consistent playing time? Why does Randy Wolf deserve his own catcher when that means one of the hottest players on the team, Jonathan Lucroy, will sit the game out?
These are questions fans have been asking themselves and they are legitimate ones at that. There will be a time where Roenicke will have to answer them, especially if the Brewers keep slumping. I do not know the last time the same lineup was used two games in a row and I doubt Roenicke could tell me.
It is not his fault that he has to switch up the lineup. It is the players who have forced him to do this with their inconsistent play, not to mention the season-ending injuries. However, I think Roenicke owes it to certain players to give them some breathing room and allow them to play baseball. Ishikawa has been outstanding this season in the limited time he has seen action, so why does he get benched for Taylor Green?
Roenicke is trying to play the matchups with lefty vs. righty, but when a team is slumping as bad as Milwaukee is it is time to throw the matchups out the window and let the best possible lineup take the field.
The following is what I believe to be the most competitive lineup and batting order the Brewers could field on a nightly basis.
RF: Corey Hart
CF: Norichika Aoki
LF: Ryan Braun
C: Jonathan Lucroy
3B: Aramis Ramirez
1B: Travis Ishikawa
2B: Rickie Weeks
SS: Cesar Izturis
Roenicke should use this lineup for a few games in a row and see what happens. It obviously does not play the matchups but the mere fact that it will be a consistent lineup could do wonders for the team.
The two best hitters (Ryan Braun, Lucroy) need to be hitting back-to-back, that is just the way it has to be. I understand Milwaukee is paying Aramis Ramirez the big bucks to hit cleanup but he simply is not giving Braun the protection he needs and deserves. Lucroy can do this, as he proved Sunday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, and moving Ramirez down a spot in the batting order may be exactly what he needs to start hitting better.
Obviously, with Rickie Weeks slumping as bad as he is Hart will have to return to the leadoff spot on a daily basis. Weeks will bat seventh where the only real pressure will be for him to get his swing back.
Aoki needs to play every day. He has the third best batting average (.284) and fourth best on-base percentage (.351) on the team. There is no reason to keep him on the bench for the majority of games when he clearly is capable of helping the team win. Also, Ishikawa deserves to see more playing time as his tremendous power could really benefit the team in the sixth spot of the batting order.
Just because the batting order is consistent does not automatically mean the Brewers will win games, but at least it will let them know their manager has confidence in a certain group of men. The pitching still needs to come around because I still believe that is Milwaukee’s biggest flaw. However, a good hitting team can overcome average pitching.