Brewers Gaining Steam

For the past few seasons, many people around baseball have viewed the Milwaukee Brewers as a rising force not just in their division, but in the National League. Now in 2011, they may finally be proving the “experts” right.

With two of the best players in the game in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, the Brewers could be labeled as underachievers since their debuts in 2005 and 2007, respectively.  In their only recent post-season appearance in 2008, they needed a mid-season acquisition of CC Sabathia to help assist them in a push to the playoffs.  Once the Brewers finally got there, they were quickly eliminated by the eventual champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Following back-to-back seasons in 2009-2010 finishing with sub .500 records, something had to be done. The team brought in a new manager in Ron Roenicke and prized free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke to lead an already solid starting rotation. Another move that has quietly been one of the best of this past winter was the acquisition of Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays. So far Marcum has been nothing short of extraordinary compiling a 7-2 record with a 2.95 ERA and 3.44 strikeout to walk ratio. Also, let’s not forget about Yovani Gallardo, veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson who round out the rotation.

Surprisingly, the Brewers lineup is younger then you may think, as only Nyjer Morgan is the only starter over the age of 30. Everybody knows that Fielder and Braun will produce, but many forget about Rickie Weeks, the second overall pick in 2003 who is following last year’s breakout season by hitting .290 with 14 home runs and 56 runs scored. Weeks is without question one of the x-factors for the Brew Crew as much their success hinges on his performance, especially if he gets on base, which he has clearly done so far this season.

The NL Central has been dominated by the St. Louis Cardinals for years, and last season we saw the emergence of a young and exciting Cincinnati Reds team that finally got over the hump, so it wouldn’t be wise to count out either club at any point during the season. However, at this point, Milwaukee looks to be the most complete team playing the best baseball out of the three. With a 44-35 record, the Brewers have a 3 game lead over the reeling Cardinals who have lost 7 of their last 10 without Albert Pujols and are 3.5 ahead of the Reds. The two weeks leading up to the All-Star Break will tell us a lot about who the Brewers really are, as they have a challenging schedule which includes games against the New York Yankees, Minnesota, Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, and finishing off with the Reds.

The biggest factor right now is that the Brewers are playing with confidence. Many of their players have been around the block and were there for the post-season run in 2008, so lack of experience should not be an excuse. Whether or not it’s Fielders last year in Milwaukee is a story for another day, but expect him to lead the Brewers deep into the playoffs as they may be a dark horse for the pennant.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.