The Milwaukee Brewers aren't off to the start most fans or even they expected, after a Sunday loss to the San Francisco Giants and a disappointing road trip. They now find themselves 12-16 and looking for answers.
Some of the problems reside with the pitching and hitting; others with the number of players on the disabled list; and others are with the young talent this team is now going to put out on the field.
Good Major League Baseball teams are able to blend veterans with youth and get career years out of more than one player. Teams that struggle are those that come out of spring training looking to go in one direction, but because of injuries and other factors are forced to take a detour.
The Brewers are now trying to find a detour, and here's why:
With the St. Louis Cardinals sitting atop the NL Central standings, the Brewers have to get their bats going to get back on track. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the only Brewer hitting over .300. Ryan Braun leads the team in homers in RBIs, but he isn't getting much help. This is where the loss of Prince Fielder really hurts.
Corey Hart is hitting .258 and Aramis Ramirez is hitting a paltry .214. Power numbers are also down for the likes of Ramirez and Rickie Weeks. The team is now going to lean on Carlos Gomez and Travis Ishikawa to manufacture some runs in a hurry.
Gallardo is 1-3 with an ERA approaching 6.00. Wolf has been all over the place. He's walking too many hitters and has given up four homers.
The bullpen has been seeing a lot of action and that doesn't bode well for later in the year. Someone also is going to have to fill the role of Chris Narveson, who was lost for the year with a rotator cuff.
Injuries come into play for every major league team. Last year, the Brewers avoided them. This year, fewer than 30 games into the season, three players have sustained serious injuries and Ryan Braun has been hampered with an Achilles tendon.
The losses of Narveson, Mat Gamel with a torn ACL and Alex Gonzalez's recent knee injury all hurt. They hurt not only because you lose a starting player, but because a team like Milwaukee many times relies on young players as reserves. While Japanese players like Norichika Aoki and Ishikawa aren't young, they are untested. Taylor Green might get more starts than anyone imagined and Edwin Maysonet, who was just brought up from Nashville, will play shortstop.
If some reserves can step up and produce, the Brewers will get through this; if not, it's going to be a long summer in Milwaukee. Right now, I'm concerned.
Rick Limpert covers sports, technology and events. He's been following the Brewers since the days of Gorman Thomas, Moose Haas and Sal Bando.
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