My attention was split tonight between the Packers and the Brewers, but I saw enough of the Brewers game to worry slightly about whether this team is ready for the playoffs.
Rickie Weeks was activated from the disabled list prior to today’s game against the Phillies, but did not make an appearance. That’s a shame, too, as the Brewers could have used him. They were blanked until the fifth inning by Cole Hamels, who allowed only four hits en route to a complete game victory. The only blemishes on Hamel’s outstanding outing came off the bats of Yuniesky Betancourt and Corey Hart, both of whom hit solo home runs.
The Brewers’ recent reliance on the long ball is somewhat troubling. In the month of September, the Brewers have hit 13 home runs, second-most in baseball over that time period. Unfortunately, the team only has a .257 average to pair with that pop. After demolishing the Astros over the weekend by a combined score of 20-4, the Crew’s offense has withered against stronger competition. Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook was knocked around for four runs on Monday, but half of those came by the home run. Though the Crew ultimately got a “W” in that contest, the team has lost the last three games; in none of those have the Brewers scored more than two runs. The opposing pitching has been high-quality, but that is precisely the point; in the playoffs, all of the pitching will be high-quality.*
Watch to see how the hitting trends over the next few days against the Phillies, who will trot out Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Brewers have historically hit these regular Cy Young candidates pretty well; Halladay is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA against the Crew, while Lee is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA. If the Brewers expect to find themselves playing deep into October, they will need to continue that kind of success against elite pitching.
*Unless, of course, you are the 2008 Brewers, who had to send perennial All-Stars Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush to the mound.