Brewers: .500 record reveals improving offense, declining pitching
MILWAUKEE — Nearly a fifth of the way through the season, the Milwaukee Brewers sit right at .500: 16 victories, 16 losses.
While that may be encouraging to some who expected another lackluster record as the Brewers continue their rebuild, it’s not quite good enough to those wearing the uniform.
“I think people are starting to realize we’re a lot better than they thought,” outfielder Keon Broxton told reporters during Milwaukee’s recently completed six-game trip. “I never once thought we were less than what we are now. We actually have room to improve. I think we’re going to get better as the season goes on.”
What’s worked so far for is offense: The Brewers lead the National League with 53 home runs and are fourth with 155 runs scored. And while their collective .242 average ranks 11th in the league, the number is improving after players such as Broxton got hot after slow starts.
The center fielder had a .196 average after going 0-for-4 against the Cubs on April 19. In 14 games since, he’s 15-for-44 (.341) with five doubles, three RBIs and five stolen bases.
“It’s really not about the hits,” Broxton said. “It’s just finding a comfort zone in the box and being able to recognize pitches and lay off pitches I’ve been swinging at, and squaring up balls.
“That’s the main goal in the box; it’s not really about getting hits. It’s about having good at-bats and squaring the ball up.”
He’s not the only one heating up.
Right fielder Domingo Santana is batting .364 (8-for-22) over his past seven games while utility man Hernan Perez has a .333 average (15-for-45) over his past 12 with four doubles, two triples, three homers and nine RBIs.
But a .500 record usually suggests not everything is clicking on all cylinders and that, too, is the case with the Brewers, whose biggest issues right now fall with the pitchers.
The 4.14 staff ERA ranks sixth in the league but Brewers pitchers have walked 117 batters — a problem that leads to heavy traffic on the bases and, more importantly, short outings for the starting rotation and, consequently, extra work for the bullpen which has covered 119? innings, the third-most among NL relief corps.
“Getting starting pitchers performing and doing well is big,” manager Craig Counsell said. “(Matt Garza) has gotten into the seventh inning his last two starts, and that’s important. He’s done it well. He’s made pitches. As much as anything, just having a guy you can rely on when you’re rolling around every fifth day is valuable.”