Brewers slide towards the trade deadline
Can a Major League Baseball team erase a 7.5 game deficit and win their division? Of course they can. With the addition of a second Wild Card, the chances of a team rebounding from a poor start to make the playoffs substantially increases. After all, the goal of adding the second Wild Card was keep more teams in contention later in the season. Judging from their play recently, it doesn’t appear that the Brewers have ability to be that team.
Fresh off of losing two of out three on the road to the division leading Cincinnati Reds, the Brewers return to Miller Park for a seven-game homestand against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins. Game two of the series with the Reds was a microcosm for the entire season as Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. The Brewers broke up the no-hitter and rallied to tie the score at 3 in the eighth. John Axford, the team’s usual closer, was brought in to work the bottom half of the eighth. Axford’s first pitch to Drew Stubbs was promptly deposited over the center field wall to give the Reds a 4-3 lead. The Reds’ closer, Aroldis Chapman, struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory. Like many other games this season, a Brewer’s opponent won the game it’s final at bat.
Although the Brewers rebounded in the series finale to avoid a sweep, it was a disappointing trip to Cincinnati. The team squandered a golden opportunity to make up ground on the division leaders and, in the process, provided more evidence that the team just does not have the ability to play a winning brand of baseball. Injuries have forced manager Ron Roenicke to send a mediocre lineup onto the field. It’s a lineup that isn’t capable of quality offensive production. They rely too much the home run and do not do a good enough job of manufacturing runs. This evidenced by the fact that the Brewers are among the league leaders in home runs, yet are among the worst in total hits.
The Brewers are then forced to rely on pitching and defense to win games. The team’s starters, led by Zack Greinke, have been solid all year. Defensively, the Brewers are among the best in all of baseball in terms of fielding percentage and errors. However, the Brewer’s bullpen has been nothing short of disastrous. Their 134 runs allowed is the most in baseball. Countless bullpen meltdowns have spoiled superb outings by the starters. At the heart of the bullpen woes has been Axford. The right hander has been a shell of the pitcher that recorded a club record 46 saves in 2011. He has blown four saves so far in 2012 and has a 5.22 ERA. Both totals are career highs and are unacceptable for a team’s “designated closer”.
Unless the Brewers can figure out a way to fill the bullpen with competent personnel, it will be a long season for Brewer fans. As the bullpen finds new and better ways to lose leads and give up runs, a once promising season continues to slide toward the inevitable. The Brewers will have to realize that the 2012 season is lost and look to bolster the future by trading away players before the July 31 deadline.
By: Scott Kasten
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