The Brewers have gone 8-7 since the All-Star break, and 1-5 since the trade deadline. They've fallen out of a playoff spot completely, and are now trailing the red hot St. Louis Cardinals. Below are the five things that need to improve if the Brewers want to see playoff baseball for the fifth straight year.
1. The Middle Relief Has Been Bad
In an interesting turn of events, the Brewers greatest strength has become their crippling weakness. It hasn’t been just a six-game struggle, it's been a month long problem. Over the last 30 days (July 8th - August 7th) the bullpen has a ERA of 5.70, good for the second worst in the MLB during that time period. They’ve surrendered 19 home runs, by far the most in the last 30 days.
However, you can’t throw the top end of the Brewers pen under the bus. Both Devin Williams and Brad Boxberger have posted an combined ERA under 3.00 since the break, so the dirt is practically only on the middle relievers' hands.
2. Willy Adames is Struggling
Adames’ was one of the Brewers players that was hoping to turn it around in the second half. Instead, it looks like the Brewers shortstop is the only one that didn’t get the memo. While the Crew's offense has been great since the break, scoring 83 runs and leading the MLB in OPS since the midsummer classic, Adames has not. Adames is slashing just .221/.243/.397 since the break, and has WRC+ of 70. Even though he is striking out less in the second half, the hits still aren’t falling like they were in 2021.
3. The Defense Has Been Sloppy
Maybe the defense overall hasn’t been so poor in the second half, but errors are becoming more timely, and the results have been painful. The Brewers have already allowed 11 unearned runs in the second half, and you could certainly argue some unmarked fielding blunders have cost them more. Usually solid defensive options like Hunter Renfroe and Victor Caratini have been struggling in their respective roles defensively, while noted poor defenders like Rowdy Tellez have arguably been worse.
4. The Starting Pitching is Lacking its Usual Effectiveness
At a brief glance, the starters have been solid since the break. As a core the starters have posted an ERA of 3.44, good enough to place the Brewers in the top third of the league since the break. However, the run prevention is far from the actual issue.
Brewers starters have walked over 11 percent of the batters they’ve faced since the break, causing their starts to be short, forcing the already weakened bullpen to work even more. Although they’ve done a good job preventing runners from scoring, they haven't done enough to keep themselves in the games.
5. Negativity Surrounding the Hader Trade
This last one is completely intangible, but I think it's having an effect on the team. It was pretty obvious by some of the interviews conducted with the players that they were shocked by the front office’s decision to move Josh Hader. I can’t directly blame the front office for losses because they decided to trade Hader, because there has been no scenario where having Hader would have likely changed the result of any given loss.
I do feel obligated to mention the barrage of reporter questions and online negativity that has been facing the team the week following the deal, though. The players undoubtedly have tried to avoid this, but if you’ve been on baseball space in the web that past week, you know it's been unavoidable. It’s hard to really pinpoint the degree to which this has been affecting the team, but for the players' sake, both reporters and fans need to move on.
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