This may go down as one of the great el foldos of all time. It took until September, but for the naysayers who never believed in the Milwaukee Brewers this season, everything is coming true.
Milwaukee is falling apart faster than Humpty Dumpty did after he took his own great fall. The Brewers, who led the National League Central Division all season until the other day, fell to the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, losing 6-2 for their eighth straight loss.
Sliding down the division
Not only did the Brewers lose control of first place to the St. Louis Cardinals, they seem in danger of falling out of the playoffs altogether. Heck, with a 73-66 mark, continued collapse may leave Milwaukee without a winning record. That seemed impossible only days ago, but the last week has been horrendous, and the second half of the season has been nothing to brag about in Wisconsin.
If you want to boast about the quality of the cheese or the beer, go right ahead, but suddenly, with the National Football League starting this weekend, it’s become a case of "How do you think the Packers will do?" Up until recently, the optimists could say, "How about them Brewers?
Carlos Gomez injury
Even worse, just to prove that several things can go wrong at once, outfielder Carlos Gomez, one of the club’s best players, suffered a left wrist sprain and is likely to be sidelined for a week or two when the Brewers need him the most. Gomez’s stat line reads 21 home runs, 65 RBIs, .282 average. He is one guy who could have broken out at any moment to re-spark Milwaukee.
Overall, a scan of Milwaukee’s season-long hitting statistics show some solid numbers. Second baseman Scooter Gennett is hitting .298. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy has been the team leader. He has 13 homers, 60 RBIs and a .297 average.
Not so long ago right-fielder Ryan Braun was the National League’s Most Valuable Player. But then he got caught cheating and was suspended for drug use. This year Braun has been OK, but not superb. He has blasted 18 homers, has 77 runs batted in and a .275 average.
The Brewers’ real problem at bat has been a lack of contact. Simply put, the best hitters strike out too much and that is a rally-killer and impacts on-base percentage too much.
Four starters, first baseman Mark Reynolds, left-fielder Khris Davis, Braun and Gomez, have struck out at least 100 times in 2014, Gomez whiffing a team-high 129 times. There’s one explanation for Milwaukee faltering.
Also, the pitching hasn’t been that great. Wily Peralta has emerged with a 15-9 mark, though he hasn’t been immune to losing lately, either. Kyle Lohse, 12-8, is the only other starter with 10 wins. Closer Francisco Rodriguez has been excellent, with 39 saves.
But the real story is that the Brewers were likely playing over their heads early in the year and the rest of the NL is catching up to them now at crunch time.