The best part of baseball is the hope of a new beginning. If you lose a game, there’s always tomorrow. If you have a bad season, there’s always next year. In theory there is always a clean slate on the horizon. In theory. In practice this is not always the case, a fact the Milwaukee Brewers are making all too clear.
The end of last season was particularly hard to forget for Brewers fans. The toxic combination of bad starting pitching, untimely bullpen meltdowns, and punchless offense made for a miserable stretch run. The 2015 season did not come with much promise other than being more enjoyable than the end of last season. Unfortunately that the enjoyment level is the same and this season feels like a continuation of last year.
The Brewers started the season with a 10-0 drubbing courtesy of the Colorado Rockies. The game was essentially over after the first inning and you could not help but get the feeling the Brewers are picking up exactly where they left off in 2014. This is exactly what we did not want to see.
The opening day debacle is not proving to be an aberration, either. The Brewers are currently 1-5 and have the worst run differential (-20) in the National League. A large part of this is due to the starting rotation being highly ineffective. Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, and Mike Fiers have a collective ERA of 9.61, and Lohse got shelled for the second time this season in Sunday’s 10-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
Though the starting pitching has been poor, the bats have done nothing to inspire confidence. Their offense is scoring a paltry 2.7 runs per game and their collective slump from the end of least season has apparently endured through winter and spring training. Jonathan Lucroy only has one hit this season, Carlos Gomez is hitting .240, and Ryan Braun is slugging .214, to name a few struggling hitters.
There is also the matter of the relief pitching, which was a concern coming into this season. Our fears were realized in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Colorado when Jonathan Broxton allowed a 461-foot, go-ahead 2-run homer in the 8th inning to Carlos Gonzalez. After the Brewers tied the game in the 9th inning and gave fans something to cheer about for the first time this year, Francisco Rodriguez promptly allowed a solo home run in the 10th which proved to be the margin of defeat. Considering that K-Rod surrendered a career-high 14 home runs in 2015, the last thing Brewers fans wanted to see was a home run allowed in his first important outing of the season.
To be at least slightly optimistic, there are a few bright spots. Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson both had strong starts, Adam Lind is proving to be a huge upgrade at first base, and, well, that’s about it. It is safe to expect Lucroy, Gomez, Braun, and the rest of the offense to heat up at some point. If not then this is the worst offense of all-time, and that just does not seem likely.
The worst case scenario for the beginning of this season is the Brewers playing like they did at the end of last season. This scenario is underway, and with their next six games being at St. Louis and Pittsburgh it looks like things may get worse before they get any better. Unless a turnaround happens soon the Brewers will be out of contention so early they’ll conjure the worst feeling a sports fan can have: indifference.