The MLB All-Star Game is in the books, and the unofficial second half of the MLB season is upon us. In a bit of a shock, the Milwaukee Brewers have a commanding four-game lead at the break in the NL Central. While not surprising to many that the Brewers are in contention, it’s the fact that neither the Cardinals nor the Cubs are above .500. It’s well documented that in the first half, Milwaukee’s starting pitching has been nothing short of phenomenal. And since acquiring Willy Adames on May 22nd, the offense is starting to catch up.
The question remains though, can the Brewers keep hold of the division?
Will the Milwaukee Brewers Keep it Up?
Promising Signs for Milwaukee
Milwaukee is rather lucky to be in the position it finds itself in right now. The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers season has been plagued by injuries to players that were expected to have significant roles this season. Kolten Wong, Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain have all had multiple stints on the IL. Not to mention power bats Travis Shaw and Daniel Vogelbach having significant injuries as well. Couple this with the incredibly underwhelming offensive performances of guys like Keston Hiura and Jackie Bradley Jr., it is rather shocking that Milwaukee has won 53 games before the break.
How have they done it? Key role players like All-Star catcher Omar Narvaez, Avisail Garcia and Willy Adames are stepping up in big moments and helping this club find ways to win. Having a historically good “Big 3” starting pitching staff of Woodruff, Burnes and Peralta never hurts either. The best news, though, is that guys like Hiura and Yelich, who struggled at times in the first half, seem to be picking up steam and returning to the high expectations fans have set for them. I’d also be doing a major disservice if I didn’t mention the fact that Jace Peterson doesn’t seem able to be called out right now.
If the bats can continue to stay warm, combined with Milwaukee’s excellent pitching, the Brewers could be eyeing a fourth straight playoff appearance.
Milwaukee Brewers Expectations
It may be silly to expect Milwaukee to remain as dominant in the Central as the dog days of summer wear on. In all likelihood, the Brewers starting pitchers may have a couple rocky outings. That said, the Brewers survived a gauntlet of NL West competition in the early parts of the season and excelled through it. The Cubs seem to be raising the proverbial white flag and have already started selling on the trade market. It remains to be seen what St. Louis and Cincinnati will do.
I would expect Milwaukee to keep this underdog mentality throughout the summer and continue to find ways to win. After the now infamous 15-7 win against Chicago, despite giving up all seven runs in the first inning before even coming to the plate, this scrappy team rallied around each other and didn’t give up. This season’s team has a special feel to it, and sometimes that’s more important than any sabermetric out there.
MLB Trade Deadline Wishlist
No team is perfect. Honestly, it feels like Milwaukee is knocking at the door of something special, but adding an extra piece or two to get over the top never hurts either. Expect Milwaukee to target one more bullpen arm at the MLB Trade Deadline. A guy for the seventh or eighth inning to really slam the door shut on teams.
Remember 2018 when a Brewers lead felt safe after the sixth because opponents would have to face some combination of Jeffress, Knebel and Hader? Well, Hader is still around, as good as ever, and Devin Williams appears to be fighting the ship, but there seems to be one piece missing. Don’t get me wrong, Miguel Sanchez, Brad Boxberger and others have done fine, but it just isn’t the same. Some possible names you could see floated are Paul Fry from Baltimore, Kendall Graceland from Seattle or Pirates closer (in the rare instances they have a lead) Richard Rodriguez.
Aside from bullpen arms, some talking heads are floating the idea of a big name bat for either corner infield spot. Guys like CJ Cron and Eduardo Escobar both pop up as rental players Milwaukee could make a splash on, just like Mike Moustakas in 2018.
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