Midwest Diamond Report - 9/8
The Brewers had a depressing week, falling out of first place in the NL Central for the first time since early April.
Their 9-game losing streak included a sweep at the hands of the Cubs. The games weren’t even very close. The slip continued with a loss to the Cardinals, who had moved into first place. The Brewers finally snapped that streak with a win over the Cards on Friday.
Adding to the depression about poor play on the field was the unexpected death of scouting director Bruce Seid. He was only 53.
Multiple factors have led to the Brewers’ slump. First, a streaky hitting team has fallen into an overall hitting slump, with an average of two runs per game.. The losses of Carlos Gomez to an injury, and Ryan Braun to a paternity leave, further hurt the offense. Neither were really hitting that well though before they exited.
The starting pitchers, an asset most of the season, looked to have run out of gas. Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Jimmy Nelson, Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza, who was returning from an injury, all were rocked around during the club’s losing streak. Only Mike Fiers, called up in August, looked good. He broke the losing streak Friday.
Meanwhile, the bullpen has been inconsistent for weeks. That could be because of overuse in some cases. The pitching staff’s overall ERA during the streak was 6.44.
While the Brewers fell out of first place, they still are in the Wild Card race as of this writing. Their win on Friday gave them a one-game lead over the Braves for the final Wild Card position. The Pirates also hang in that race. So, the Brewers will have to turn around their slide soon to make the post-season at all.
The Cubs’ sweep of the Brewers should give their fans hope for the future. Some of their touted prospects -- Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and others -- have played well and could form a core for the team in future seasons.
Chicago’s hot streak is the club’s best since 2002. Even more impressive is the fact that the Cubs have been without their two All-Stars, Starlin Castro, who is likely lost for the season with a high ankle sprain suffered Tuesday night, and Anthony Rizzo, who has tightness in his lower back.
"We're playing good baseball now," outfielder Chris Valaika said. "I've seen it all year with these guys in Triple-A. If we keep this rolling, showing teams we can play going into next year, I think we'll have something special."
Player of the Week
The Cubs’ Hendricks beat the Brewers to improve his record to 6-1. Hendricks, who compiled a 1.69 ERA and 4-0 record in six August starts, was picked the NL Rookie Pitcher of the Month. That’s good enough for him to also receive the MDR Player of the Week honor.
Other MDR teams’ Players of the Week included:
** the Brewers’ Fiers, who ran his record to 5-2 with the streak-winning victory Friday.
** the Twins’ Trevor Plouffe, who hit .350 with two homers.
** the White Sox’s Jose Abreu, who hit .625 in five games and had an eight-game hitting streak.
** 2B Scooter Gennett left Friday’s game in the 8th inning for precautionary reasons because of his quad problem. He had two key hits before exiting.
** After the Brewers losing streak, FanGraph gave the team just a 16.8 percent chance of winning the division and a less-than-50/50 (49 percent) chance of reaching that 50/50 Wild Card round.
** Ryan Braun and his wife, Larisa, had their first child., Celine Elysse, late Wednesday.
** The Cubs and Pirates were set to resume a game Saturday suspended by rain on Friday. The teams were tied 3-3.
** Javier Baez will take over at shortstop with Castro sidelined with his ankle sprain.
** The Cubs selected the contract of outfielder Ryan Kalish from Triple-A Iowa and transferred outfielder Ryan Sweeney to the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday.
** Eight relievers were used in a loss to the Angels on Friday.
** Aaron Hicks made his first start in center field since June 7 on Wednesday for the Twins, giving regular center fielder Danny Santana his first start at his natural shortstop position since Aug. 21.
** RHP Trevor May collected his first Major League win as the Twins dumped the White Sox, 11-4, on Wednesday night at Target Field. The Twins and Sox split the two-game series.
** LHP Chris Sale maintained his AL-leading ERA (2.09) in a 2-1 loss to the Indians Friday.
** Michael Taylor picked up his first hit with the White Sox on Wednesday.
** The White Sox cut more than $2 million by moving Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn over the last couple weeks.
The Twins and White Sox will meet in another MDR rivalry series next weekend in Chicago.
After their series with the Cardinals, the Brewers host the Marlins at Miller Park. The Cubs travel to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays.
The White Sox’s plan a tribute to retiring Paul Konerko on Sept. 27.
Author Joe Niese has several days left in a a 30-day Kickstarter campaign for publishing an Andy Pafko book. Anyone interested in the project and contributing to it can go to:
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