Just when you thought World Series 2014 had the Milwaukee Brewers name written all over it, the St. Louis Cardinals flew into Miller Park and promptly took two out of three from the Brew Crew, extinguishing their red hot nine game winning streak in the process. When all the feathers had settled, Milwaukee still had the best record in major league baseball (11-4), and their surprising start will go down in their 2015 media guide as one of the best in team history, which, in reality, is not saying much.
Suffice it is to say, however, that the Streakers have at least at this point, a mere 14 games in, the signs of an improved pitching staff and a fairly healthy roster that may indeed carry them to the Promised Land of the MLB post season. With the addition of Matt Garza, the five man starting rotation leads the majors in team ERA, with Yovani Gallardo keeping the ball inside the park so far, Kyle Lohse getting run support, Marco Estrada throwing enough junk to keep hitters off balance, and perhaps the pick of the litter, Wily Peralta, in control of pitches, Brewer fans can rest comfortably, at least for now, when any one of those five take the mound.
The Bullpen previously known as highly flammable, has been even better. Retread Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) enjoying his third tour of duty in Milwaukee, is getting it done in the absence of wanna be closer Jim Henderson, and Tyler Thornburg has been nothing short of spectacular.
Offensively they’re clicking because just about everyone in the lineup is hitting close to, at or above .300. So far manager Ron Roenicke’s decision to install Carlos Gomez in the lead-ff spot is paying dividends early (4HR, 10RBI, .328BA). Despite his penchant for base running gaffes, Gomez has added his power in that position and has even taken to working the opposing pitcher for walks, a rarity in his previous offensive arsenal. Another key factor is the hot start from Aramis Ramirez, (2HR, 13RBI, .377BA). Depending on whether or not he stays healthy, the Brewer offense, (up until the Cardinal series), was clicking, in large part due to Ramirez, whose uncanny knack for driving in runners in scoring position fueled the nine game winning streak.
Speaking of the Cardinals, the Brewers play 16 more games this year against the Red Birds. For those of you calculating the Brewers odds of winning 90 games at their current pace, here’s a stat for you; Milwaukee is on pace to finish 6-13 against St. Louis, and after an early look at the difference between the 2 teams, it looks as though Roenicke and Company are going to have to figure out another way to keep these birds from nesting atop the NL Central once again.
It’s fair to say Milwaukee is on the right track toward a surprisingly successful 2014 campaign (I have them at 78-84), but in the 162 game world of major league baseball, Brewer fans have been trained to nurse their post season dreams with caution all too often. Add to that notion the seemingly insurmountable task of taking a series from St. Louis, and it appears once again that a pennant waving celebration in late September won’t be in the cards for Milwaukee once again.
For now, good luck with that April Ace.
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