Defining the Problem in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Brewers have officially missed the post-season. The San Francisco Giants clinched as the result of the Brewers' loss to the Cincinnati Reds. After finishing the month of April with a league best 20-8 and maintaining the lead in the Central through August, the Brewers looked primed to make a post-season appearance. That is until they went on a nine game losing streak that put the Cardinals in first place. The Brewers had a chance to take a Wild Card slot, but their inconsistency down the stretch cost them that opportunity. Now the Brewers are left searching for answers. What happened? How could things turn around so quickly? The answer, yours truly is afraid, is quite complicated.

Normally when teams collapse, there is an obvious reason. The line-up does not have enough power to compete with the other elite teams. The rotation gives up too many runs. The bull-pen gives games away. There always seems to be an apparent weak link. Yet, when looking at the Brewers, they do not have a glaring weakness. The line-up, which includes Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Gomez, has power. The rotation, including Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, and Matt Garza, has the ability to keep runs off the board. A bull pen that has the arms of Will Smith, Zach Duke, and Francisco Rodriguez can close out games. This is a team that actually houses a lot of potential. Milwaukee entered the season with low expectations after a disappointing 2013 campaign. However, the 2013 campaign involved a Ryan Braun suspension, and many injuries. Knowing this, this writer expected the Brewers to do well, and while their early success was a nice surprise, yours truly was not completely shocked.

The Brewers had all that they needed to be successful right in front of them. They had an offense that could create runs, they had pitching that could keep the other team off the board, and the defense did not make a lot of mistakes. Going into the off-season, this writer still believes that the Brewers have the pieces they need to be successful already in place. There are not a lot of things that need to be changed, despite everyone's belief that drastic measures need to be taken after the collapse. If you take the time to go through every position on the team, you realize that the player that is in the position is actually quite valuable to the team. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Khris Davis have the outfield covered. Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett, and Mark Reynolds cover the infield. First base with Mark Reynolds could be stronger. So if you would really like to make an argument about making adjustments, you could say that acquiring a new first baseman in the off-season would be a good move. Jonathan Lucroy is behind home plate, and the starting rotation is pretty solid, especially since Mike Fiers has stepped up as a starter. There really is not a lot that can be criticized when discussing which players are to blame for the collapse.

So what gives? What happened to the Brewers? Well, baseball is an extremely streaky sport. Sometimes you are hitting everything that comes across the plate and other times you cannot buy a hit. Sometimes you throw every pitch in the zone and sometimes you cannot seem to find the zone. Yes, fans want answers, and many people will not be happy when analysts say that the Brewers collapse was just the result of poor timing. Everyone wants to blame the collapse on something because they want to be able to fix it. If they can find a definitive problem, then they can find a solution for next season. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer to the Brewers woes. However, Brewers fans should take heart, it's not all bad news. It's good that the team does not have a major problem, it means that the Brewers are in good shape heading into next season. They surprised Major League Baseball by dominating most of the season, and this team has a bright future. Hang in there, as they will be back with a vengeance next year.