5 observations from the first week of the Brewers’ season
FOX Sports Wisconsin
There's a lot of baseball left to be played in 2018, but with all the thoughts and prognostications from spring training now in the rearview mirror and actual MLB games being played, here's five thoughts gleaned from the first week of the Milwaukee Brewers' season.
As expected, Cain and Yelich spark the top of the lineup
The acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich came with the thought that both get on base, thus helping a team which struggled in that department last year. Neither has disappointed. Cain is batting .310/.375/.517 in seven games and Yelich .385/.407.577 in six (Milwaukee surely hoping his oblique stiffness doesn't keep him out long). The pair have combined to score 10 of the Brewers' 26 runs this season, Yelich with six and Cain four (no one else on Milwaukee has more than three) and driven in nine.
The bullpen has great depth -- and is going to need it
The Brewers lost reliever Boone Logan before the start of the season and now Corey Knebel will be out with what appears to be a serious injury. But here's the silver lining: Milwaukee is in a good position with its bullpen to handle such maladies. Over the first seven games, Matt Albers, Jacob Barnes, Oliver Drake, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Jennings have combined to allow two runs over 25 innings (0.72 ERA). And the Brewers have experience in Colorado Springs with such relievers as J.J. Hoover, Tyler Webb and Taylor Williams (caveat: Hoover is not on the 40-man roster).
USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
The rotation is, well, what we thought it would be
While the bullpen is well-fortified thanks in part to some additions, Milwaukee didn't bolster its rotation in the offseason other than adding Jhoulys Chacin. The starters were considered perhaps the biggest question mark for the Brewers in 2018 and the first week hasn't changed that opinion. Chase Anderson opened well, with six shutout innings, but then allowed four runs in four innings to St. Louis. Chacin (two starts), Zach Davies (one) and Brent Suter (two) all have ERA north of 6. Jimmy Nelson is still months away from returning. One week does not a season make, but the starters need to step and not put too much burden on the relievers.
Benny SieuBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Second base remains a work in progress
The Brewers felt that even if one player didn't take the second base job and run with it, they could get good production out of the three who would see time over there. One week in and Milwaukee is still searching for answers at that position. Jonathan Villar has seen the bulk of the time so far at second -- starting five of the first seven games. While he's batting .292, Villar has no walks or extra-base hits and has struck out eight times in 24 at-bats. He's also made two errors in just 17 chances. Hernan Perez has gotten the other two starts, but he's hitless in eight at-bats to start the season with no walks and four whiffs. Perez also made two egregiously bad errors Thursday against the Cubs. Eric Sogard has played seven innings at second in a backup role and while he hasn't made an error in his seven chances, he's 0 for 12 with no walks and five Ks -- including 0 for 10 with all of his strikeouts against right-handers.
Don't count this team out
In 2017, the Brewers were 1-57 when trailing after eight innings. They are already have two such victories in 2018 -- the exciting walk-off winner over the Cardinals thanks to back-to-back home runs by Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, and putting up a five-spot in the ninth, capped by a Braun three-run homer, in San Diego to win 8-6 on March 30.