Andrew Gruman’s player of the month: 3B Aramis Ramirez (.380, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 8 2B in 26 games)
While many of Milwaukee’s big bats struggled in August, Ramirez had a fantastic month at the plate. Ramirez’s power isn’t what it used to be, the veteran third baseman can still rake and drive in runs. Of the players with enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title, Ramirez is one of seven in the National League hitting .300 or better. Ramirez had 13 multi-hit games in August, including five three-hit games. Better yet, the 36-year-old has been able to stay on the field for the Brewers, as Ramirez taken just two days off since July 1.
Andrew Gruman’s pitcher of the month: RHP Mike Fiers (4-1, 1.80 ERA, 6 BB, 41 K in 35 IP over six starts)
Where would the Brewers be without Mike Fiers? The right-hander made up for Matt Garza missing nearly the entire month with an oblique injury by dominating in five of his six starts. Fiers made a loud return to the big leagues Aug. 9 by holding the Dodgers to just one run over eight innings. He followed that performance up by striking out 14 in six innings against the Cubs. Fiers allowed a total of four hits over his third and fourth starts of the year, allowing one run in seven innings in a win over the Blue Jays and surrendering just two runs in seven innings against the Pirates. Despite taking his first loss of the season Saturday, Fiers kept the Brewers in the game by giving up three runs over seven innings. Who knows if Fiers can keep up his impressive run — we’ve seen him regress after an eye-opening stretch before — but he gave the Brewers a huge lift when most of the rotation was struggling in August.
August was a month of ups and downs for the Brewers.
Milwaukee started the month by losing two of three in St. Louis, dropping the rubber game of the series when Matt Garza strained his oblique and was forced out early while throwing a shutout. The Brewers responded by winning consecutive home series against San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers and were flying high after sweeping the Dodgers on the road the following weekend.
After the sweep at Dodger Stadium, the Brewers held a three-game advantage over the Cardinals with the Pirates trailing by 5 1/2 games. Milwaukee then went 2-3 on a homestand, including dropping two of three to Pittsburgh when it could have buried the Pirates in the division race.
Milwaukee ended August by losing five of its first six games on a nine-game road trip and were embarrassed this past weekend by the Giants. The Brewers entered August with a two-game lead in the division and headed off to the season’s final month tied with the Cardinals for first place.
Milwaukee’s losing streak carried over into the first day of September, as a loss to the Cubs combined with a Cardinals victory dropped the Brewers into second place for the first time since April 5.
The good news? The Brewers play 21 of their final 25 games against National League Central foes, including seven games against the Cardinals and three against the Pirates. Despite a six-game losing streak and although they have just a 53-56 record since the end of April, the Brewers are playing meaningful games in September.
It is imperative that Milwaukee rights the ship over the next two days in Chicago with a huge four-game series against St. Louis looming this weekend at Miller Park. The series with the Cardinals opens up the longest homestand of the season for the Brewers, an 11-game run against St. Louis, Miami and Cincinnati.
The Brewers’ final road swing of 2014 could define the year, as the nine-game trip starts in St. Louis, continues on to Pittsburgh and concludes in Cincinnati. Milwaukee will finish the season with three games at home against the Cubs.