Milwaukee Brewers: Adding Hitters, Not Pitchers, Will Cost Them Down The Stretch
The Major League Baseball trade deadline has come and gone. When the clock struck 4 pm Eastern Time, names such as Chris Archer, Brian Dozier, and Kevin Gausman were all wearing new uniforms. Teams like the New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies were quiet on deadline day, while the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates were both surprisingly active. But at the end of the day, the most surprising move was the fact that the Milwaukee Brewers made a move that did not bring in a starting pitcher.
The Brew Crew were far from being quiet at this seasons deadline. The team went out and acquired relief pitcher Joakim Soria from the Chicago White Sox. They brought in third baseman Mike “Moose” Moustakas in from the Kansas City Royals. Then right as the deadline approached, a deal was struck with the Baltimore Orioles would be sending Jonathan Schoop to Milwaukee.
Despite the flurry of moves, one can’t help but scratch their head. Why may you ask? Well, when you look at this roster, there is one key weakness – the starting pitching. So for the team to bring in several new faces, without addressing their chief concern, could be costly come the MLB playoffs.
Let’s take a look through the teams current rotation as it stands as we head into August. When you looked through the names, there is no clear-cut number one. Who starts the critical Wild Card play-in game (which is where the team is currently slotted)?
MILWAUKEE BREWERS CURRENT ROTATION
Option number one is Junior Guerra, who burst onto the scene in 2016 at the age of 31. After coming back down to Earth last season, Guerra has been decent this season, but far from spectacular. In 20 games, he sports a 3.43 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. However, in his last five starts, he has 4.94 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and just over a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Next on the list is Chase Anderson, who likely would be the team’s top option at the moment, especially considering how he’s looked of late. Anderson has not given up more than two runs in a start since June 17th against the Philadelphia Phillies. He sports a 3.69 ERA on the season but is far from being a dominant force. He is has a career 3.84 ERA, and would likely slot in as a number three for most playoffs teams.
Jhoulys Chacin, a bit of a journeyman at age 30, who is on his sixth team with the Milwaukee Brewers this season, is another arm who is decent, but far from an ace. His 3.45 ERA and 1.19 WHIP are certainly respectable. He has only given up one earned run in his last three starts. So like Anderson, he has been pitching well of late. This could have played a role in Milwaukee’s decision not to add to the rotation.
The next man on the list is Wade Miley. He has only pitched in five games for the Brew Crew. While he is sporting a very strong 2.01 ERA, this is only a 22 inning sample size. Miley is a career 4.33 pitcher and has not seen his ERA finish at under 4.00 since 2013.
Rounding out the rotation at the moment is 22-year-old Freddy Peralta. While Peralta has some electric stuff, he is still a young kid, and thus is more of a hit or miss. He is capable of going seven shutout innings or getting shelled for seven earned runs on any given night. That is not something you can count on in a big playoff game.
OTHER PITCHING OPTIONS
The team also has a trio of injured arms on the shelf. Brent Suter likely needs Tommy John Surgery and is pretty much a guarantee to be done for the season. Jimmy Nelson, who had shoulder surgery last September, has yet to pitch this season. He was one of the bright spots in last years rotation but is no ace. Finally, we have Zach Davies, who has suffered multiple setbacks from a shoulder injury that put him on the disabled list at the beginning of June.
At the end of the day, this is a rotation that consists of mainly number three type starters. While a portion of the rotation is hot right now, one must remember things tend to digress to the mean. In other words, Anderson and Chacin could very well have some rough patches coming down the road.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Coming into July 31, the club was one game behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and holds onto a Wild Card spot by about three games. Given there are eight teams fighting for two Wild Card slots, the Milwaukee Brewers cannot afford a misstep.
While adding Moose and Schoop will help shore up an offense that was slightly above average as a whole before the deadline, it also likely hurts the middle infield defense. Both Travis Shaw, who moves from third to second, and Schoop, who likely moves to shortstop, will be playing out position. Their starters are not going to match up with other playoff contenders. Taking a step back defensively is not going to make things any better either.
The Cubs added Cole Hamels, in addition to already having a trio of strong arms. The Braves have Mike Foltynewicz and added Kevin Gausman. The Pirates now have Chris Archer to pair with Jameson Taillon. Meanwhile, the Brewers stood still. A strong bullpen will only take a team so far.
So while it is still possible for the team to swing a deal in August via the waivers process, the odds of landing an impact arm does decrease. As things stand, Matt Harvey, Mike Fiers, and Zack Wheeler are all still potential options. Do any of those arms really instill confidence if you consider them a go-to guy? No, they do not.
Only time will tell, but this baseball fan is going on record and saying the Milwaukee Brewers, who entered July 31 with the most wins in the National League, will miss the playoffs because they did not address their rotation at the deadline.
What do you think? Can the Brew Crew make the playoffs? Will their starting pitching let them down? Will Schoop and Shaw become a problem defensively up the middle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.