Last night, the Brewers fell to four games under .500 for the first time since early April (4-9). What has been so alarming is how badly the Brewers have looked in the process.
The Brewers playoff chances have been slim for quite some time now, but during Sunday's Brewers game, fans were actually starting to see some good baseball. The Brewers carried a three game winning streak into Sunday and had a 5-4 lead with two outs in the eight inning. That's when things started going wrong.
Hunter Pence hit a two-run homer and the Astros went onto to defeat the Brewers 8-5.
The Brewers then traveled to Pittsburgh to face the last place Pirates, a team they usually dominate. The Brewers were swept by the Buccos without putting up much of a fight.
The Brewers now find themselves 58-62 with 42 games remaining in the season. According to coolstandings.com, the Brewers have a 1% chance of making the playoffs. As much as it pains me to say this, it is time to start looking to next season.
While it is still possible the Brewers make the playoffs, the grim reality is it's highly probable that they don't. The Brewers need to do a couple of things for the remainder of this season.
1. Limit Yovani Gallardo
The Cincinnati Reds just lost their top starter in Edinson Volquez to Tommy John Surgery. He is likely going to be out until 2011. The Brewers need to start to watch how Ken Macha is handling Yovani. There have been far too many starts this season where Yo's pitch count has climbed close to 120 pitches. Young starting pitching is too valuable to risk at this point in the season. Yovani's arm has never has to shoulder the kind of load he has dealt with this season. Is it really worth risking 2010 to go after a couple extra innings with Yo? Of course not. With Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan coming back it should take some pressure off Yo to throw 120 pitches every outing. At least I hope it will.
2. Determine what to do at catcher
Let's face it, Jason Kendall is way past his prime. He has been a drain on this team the entire season. Fans should know something is wrong when "start Mike Rivera" is being yelled constantly. Not to say that Rivera isn't an alright backup, but he has no business starting everyday in the major leagues. I have posed the possibility of using McGehee behind the plate. Other internal options include Angel Salome and Jonathan Lucroy, although they may not be ready to perform at the major league level yet. If the Brewers are not able to find a solution inside the organization at catcher, it is time that one is acquired. The offense this season has been amazing, just think if Kendall wasn't in the lineup everyday the number we could put up.
3. What to do with management
There has been a lot of public outcry over the way this team has played this season and somebody will be held responsible. While I don't feel that Doug Melvin made any moves that killed the organization's chances this season, he might be the scapegoat. Mark A has shown that he will step in if he feels the team in under performing (I still think that the Hardy/Hall moves were his doing). Ken Macha also has to be careful, this team is under his watch. There is no reason that the group of players the Brewers have should be 58-62, and someone I think will be gone after the season.
The season, as bad as it is right now, is not over yet. Hang in there Brewer fans. It could be worse, we could be watching the 2002 Milwaukee Brewers (56-106).