By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on August 4, 2014
The Milwaukee Brewers remain in control of the NL Central, but unfortunately, the race is incredibly tight. With the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates right on the heels of the Brewers, it is imperative that several players raise their level of play in August. Even though the entire team needs to contribute, these five players in particular must step up for Milwaukee this month.
Aramis Ramirez has played well this season when healthy. However, he’s also someone the team is counting on to turn it on down the stretch. Ramirez’s .289 batting average, 13 home runs and 52 RBI are encouraging, but those numbers need to increase if the Brewers want to walk away with the division. With an incredibly slow month in July (.233 BA, one home run), it is crucial that Ramirez do the complete opposite in August.
Jean Segura has played with a heavy heart this season due to the death of his son. For that reason, it is understandable why his production has dipped from his stellar performance last year. Segura has been the weak link in the starting lineup this season, which is certainly unfortunate to say. His dismal .234 batting average, four homers and 26 RBI are not getting the job done. He definitely must raise his level of play going forward.
Starting pitcher Matt Garza was signed by the Brewers in the offseason to give them an edge in the rotation. As important as his production is during the regular season, it will be doubly important for him to take off in the playoffs. Of course, Garza will have to raise his level of play if Milwaukee wants a shot at clinching a postseason berth. A 7-7 record with a 3.58 ERA isn’t necessarily bad, but the Brewers expect so much more than that.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez began the 2014 season scorching hot. Naturally, the right-hander has cooled off since then. After blowing a save against the Mets on July 25, K-Rod has three saves in three appearances. Overall, his 32 saves in 36 opportunities are solid numbers. However, he still makes fans nervous every time he steps on the mound as evidence of his nine surrendered home runs. That must change over the next few weeks.
Despite dealing with various injuries, Ryan Braun continues to play very well. It’s true that his power numbers aren’t where they typically are at this point in a season. However, his .291 batting average, 14 home runs, 65 RBI and 24 doubles are still very good. Braun’s team-high 15 RBI in July proves he is starting to heat up, which is certainly good news considering the Brewers will need him to be clutch over the next few months.
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