Count me in as a believer of the Brewers

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By: 

The Brewers baseball team has been based in Milwaukee since 1970. Over its existence, the team has made the postseason just four times, 1981, 1982, 2008 and 2011.
While Brewers’ fans might not be familiar with reaching the postseason, they are acquainted with the fact that the team has a knack for falling apart in the second half of seasons in recent years. Take last year for the most recent example, when the team saw its 5½-game lead at the All-Star break slip away.
Even though last year’s team was supposed to be a rebuilding one, fans were still disappointed to see Milwaukee miss the playoffs, as any fan base should be.
After just missing out on the postseason, Brewers general manager David Stearns upped the ante with a series of offseason moves that clearly stated the team was no longer looking to rebuild. Through 71 games this year, Milwaukee owns a 42-29 record, tied for the best record in the National League.
Somehow, you can still find many Brewers’ fans that would tell you the team won’t make the playoffs this year. Check the team’s social media accounts after games, especially after losses, and scroll through comments if you don’t believe me.
Are you among those people that don’t believe in this year’s team to snap its postseason drought? Do you feel a bit of deja vu with the strong start to the season and expect a second half collapse? Well, don’t be that person.
For those of you that jumped off the Milwaukee bandwagon after a 7-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on May 11 and jumped back on after back-to-back shutout wins to end the three-game series, I urge you to stay aboard for the ride the rest of the season.
Why? Well, if you think the history of missing the playoffs will play a role in this year’s outcomes, which they don’t, the Brewers actually own a better record than they did at this point of the season last year (38-33).
This year’s version of the Crew is also a completely different group of players, so to expect another second half collapse is just silly.
Coming into the season, fans and analysts pleaded for the Brewers to address their pitching. Outside a couple of minor bullpen additions and the Jhoulys Chacin signing, the team ignored those requests.
The reasons behind Milwaukee’s impressive start to the season has been primarily thanks to the work of the pitching staff as a whole. The offense has struggled more than most people thought, but thanks to the acquisitions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, the offense has done just enough.
A bullpen featuring Jeremy Jeffress (0.52 earned run average), Josh Hader (1.18 ERA), Jacob Barnes (1.98 ERA), Dan Jennings (3.24 ERA) and Taylor Williams (2.77 ERA) has pitched so well that most Brewers starting pitchers are only asked to get through five innings. Corey Knebel is also back in the mix after dealing with an early injury.
Chacin (3.32 ERA), Chace Anderson (4.54 ERA) and Junior Guerra (2.89 ERA) have served as the team’s top three starters. The return of the currently injured Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson will help bolster the rotation.
Milwaukee has allowed just 3.73 runs per game, the fifth-best mark in the entire MLB.
Cain, the primary leadoff hitter, leads the team with 73 hits, 15 stolen bases and a .393 on-base percentage. Yelich, who typically bats second, has scored the most runs (47) and owns a .373 on-base percentage.
With those two leading the way, power hitters like Travis Shaw (14 home runs, 45 runs batted in), Jesus Aguilar (13 HR, 42 RBIs), Ryan Braun (8 HR, 31 RBIs) and Eric Thames (9 HR, 17 RBIs) are going to continue having plenty of opportunities to drive in runs. It’s reasonable to think the production from that quartet of players will improve and help the Brewers average more than 4.42 runs, the team’s current mark.
While Milwaukee has enjoyed a strong season so far, one could say there’s still room for improvement.
If improving means trading for a pitcher, middle infielder or catcher, the organization still has the necessary pieces in the minor leagues available to make those deals. That reminds me, should a player go into an extended slump or battle an injury, there are plenty of major league options on the Triple-A Colorado Springs team waiting for their chances.
If I didn’t give enough reasons to believe in this team and you still predict that “inevitable” second half collapse, I can’t stop you, but if you fall under that category of people, leave me out of it.
I’ll just be over here enjoying the season and the highs and lows that it brings because only time will tell us the fortune of the team this season.

Morgan Rode is the sports editor for the Times Herald. He can be contacted at sports@wolfrivermedia.com.