For the 2nd time this year, I exchanged a Q-and-A with a Brewers blogger from their fine SB Nation site BrewCrewBall.com. As you might have remembered from earlier in the season, we usually exchange 5 questions about our respective teams. This time, we decided to simply answer one question. A big thanks to blogger Nicole Haase for taking her time to do this write-up.
Q: Since the Braves and Brewers last played in May, what has changed about the Brew Crew and how have they played since then?
A: The biggest thing Brewers fans have learned over the past few weeks is to have a short memory. The team seems to be incapable of putting together any long term success and have been just plain awful at times. Most recently they were destroyed in a four-game series by the Not-Known-For-Their-Offense San Francisco Giants. They were out-scored 36-7 and it was by far the lowest part of the season.
Fortunately for those Brewers fans that found themselves on the ledge, the team followed up those four losses with a three-game sweep of the Pirates that features Friday and Sunday walk-off wins to head into the All-Star Break. That will really change your outlook on things.
The worst news for us is that our ace pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, exited a game last week and was placed on the 15 day DL with an oblique injury. This can be a nagging injury and there's no guarantee he'll be healed enough to come back right away. He was the steadiest pitcher in a very shaky rotation, making the injury that much more of a big deal. We have to hope that Gallardo will be back quickly and not suffer any extra adverse affects.
The bright spot in a somewhat inconsistent bullpen has been John Axford. With Trevor Hoffman's early season struggles, the Brewers had to look elsewhere for someone to close out games. Axford is a perfect 10 for 10 in save opportunities since he was brought up from AAA Nashville.
Corey Hart has been the surprise of the offense, leading the team in home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS. On a team of heavy hitters, no one expected the guy who didn't make the Opening Day starters to be the one to have a breakout season. Last year Hart missed much of the season due to injury and struggled in Spring Training, so this power surge is both shocking and unexpected.
At the half way point I'd say that while the team is 8.5 games back from the first place Reds (!), they're pretty much exactly where we expected them to be - third place in the division, one game back from St. Louis, one game ahead of the Cubs.
The Brewers suffer from a lack of consistency from both the offense and pitching and they never seen to be on the same page. This is a team that can unload for double digit runs, but has often left a mediocre pitching staff high and dry. Until they can balance that out, middle of the division is the best we can hope for.