Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Brewers Off to Best Start in Franchise History

In case you missed it - and judging by the attendance you haven't - the Brewers have managed to win a few games here and there and are threatening to run away with the NL Central.  As of this post, the Brewers are now 35-20 and have a healthy 4.5 game lead over the Cubs in the division.  They are 7-1 on their current homestand, have won or split their last 6 series (all against legit playoff contending teams), and are an astounding 18-7 since being swept in a 4-game series by the Cubs on April 29th.  Following the final game of that fateful series, Travis Shaw took a page out of Aaron Rodgers' playbook when he tweeted the letters "C-H-I-L-L" out to Brewers Nation.  Whether by coincidence or design, the Brewers have been firing on nearly all cylinders since then.  The offense leads the NL in runs and homeruns per game since May 10th, the defense has been solid, the pitching staff overall owns the 5th best ERA in the NL, and the bullpen continues to carry the team with the best ERA in all of baseball.  They say that you shouldn't really pay attention to the standings until Memorial Day; if the year so far is a true indication of this team, it's going to be a hell of a final 2/3rds of the season.

The hot start, while historic, shouldn't come as a complete shock.  This team was expected to be even better than last year and was picked by many pundits to make the playoffs.  However, what might have many Brewers fans on edge have is that they have certainly been in this position before, only to eventually fade down the stretch.  They did so infamously in 2007 and almost again in 2008.  In fact they've done so 3 of the past 5 seasons.  But what sets this team a part from those other teams to me is their depth.  The Brewers are seemingly conducting transactions on almost a daily basis and are on pace to surpass last year's total of 51 players used on the active roster.  Part of it is a product of necessity due to injury and underperformance - look no further than the surprising demotion of Orlando Arcia last year.  But part of it is also the fact that we have the talent to keep guys fresh.  Ryan Braun and Chase Anderson have both served brief DL stints earlier this month for basically what amounted to a sore back and diarrhea respectively.  It's not to say that we didn't miss them on the roster, but this team has the flexibility and talent to allow guys to get healthy and not miss a beat.  I personally was not concerned one bit when Corey Knebel and Eric Thames went down with injuries because I knew we had Josh Hader and Jesus Aguilar waiting in the wings.  I also know Arcia will get right and be back on the team when we need him down the stretch, because Tyler Saladino has been such a good find.  We demoted Jacob Barnes earlier this year because of basically 4 poor outings after being unscored upon most of April.  This team has the depth, and even more importantly the roster flexibility with many players still having minor league options.  The fact that we can keep almost a complete major league caliber team stocked between AA and AAA is extremely encouraging.  If this team can manage to keep this up and stay within sight of the finish line until September call-ups - and the return of Jimmy Nelson - then I have more confidence in this team making a long run into the playoffs than I ever have before.

Brewers 35-20, +4.5 (3 v. Cardinals, 3 @ White Sox)
Reds 19-36, -16.0 (3 @ Diamondbacks, 3 @ Padres)
Twins 22-27, -3.5 (3 @ Royals, 4 v. Indians)

Erik - 2 (+9 worked)
Peter - 6

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