COMMENTARY | Something strange is going on in Milwaukee this week.
The Milwaukee Brewers were 2-8 a mere five days ago, failing to score a single run for roughly 3 1/2 games. Now they are 6-8 following a comeback victory in St. Louis and a sweep of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
That's all well and good, but you would have trouble believing who's leading the charge.
How about Jean Segura, leading the Brewers in batting average through 14 games? Or Carlos Gomez, whose average has increased .146 during Milwaukee's four-game winning streak? Even Yuniesky Betancourt is getting in on the act with some clutch hitting. Yuniesky Betancourt!
From the top of the lineup to the bottom, the Brewers are getting production -- which is keeping the pressure on opposing pitchers. Well, there is one spot in the lineup that hasn't been getting it done -- the cleanup hole, currently inherited by the $50 million man himself, Rickie Weeks.
The 30-year-old second baseman is coming off a forgettable season in which he spent months at a time below the Mendoza Line, and that's exactly where he finds himself through April 18. He began the season with Ryan Braun protecting him in the lineup, going 6-for-11 in the two-hole through the first three games.
Without Braun's protection in the lineup? Weeks has watched his average drop from .545 to .193, including an abysmal 3-for-38 stretch hitting cleanup. It's as if Weeks' security blanket is having both Braun and Aramis Ramirez in the lineup, and without at least one of them there, he's completely lost at the plate.
And yet Weeks continues to hit fourth, watching the aforementioned names flourish while he racks up the strikeouts. It doesn't help Braun's case, either. Pitchers don't need to go after Braun knowing that an incompetent Weeks waits next in the order. Both would very much enjoy seeing the return of the doubles-machine known as Aramis Ramirez, but that could still be at least a week away.
So if Weeks is scuffling so badly as the cleanup hitter, why doesn't Ron Roenicke replace him? The answer is simple: He doesn't want to mess with a good thing. Gomez and Betancourt are currently the two hottest hitters on Milwaukee's roster, and they hit seventh and eighth, respectively.
We've seen it before -- Weeks can catch fire for extended periods of time, and that's the kind of spurt Roenicke is anxiously awaiting. As long as the Brewers keep winning, Weeks is going to have to tough it out hitting fourth and with the lack of infield depth on the bench, don't expect to see him out of the lineup anytime soon.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who contains an unhealthy amount of knowledge about Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline and as a featured columnist among other sites and publications.
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
- Sports & Recreation
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Yuniesky Betancourt
- Ryan Braun
- Rickie Weeks