The Milwaukee Brewers have put themselves in good position to win the NL Central in the early months of the season, holding on to a 4.5 game lead for the division. However there are still questions to be answered in the coming weeks before and after the All-Star break.
What to do with Wei-Chung Wang?
Part of the reason the Brewers now hold eight pitchers in their bullpen, whether they'll admit it or not, is because the organization is not getting the innings they would like out of Wei-Chung Wang. Wang did bring his earned runs down from April (10) to May (6), but the consistency is just not at the level where the Brewers can trust him in pivotal moments. The Rule-5 draftee must stay in the majors or go back to the organization the Brewers took him from, the Pittsburgh Pirates. At some point though, Wang will have to pull his own weight.
Is Elian Herrera the only utility man the Brewers need?
With the Brewers currently carrying eight pitchers in their bullpen, it leaves the team with a very short bench of only four position players. Those four on most days are Lyle Overbay, Rickie Weeks, Martin Maldonado and Elian Herrera. Weeks and Maldonado are primarily restricted to their positions of second base and catcher respectively, and Overbay really only has the range to play the corner infield positions of third and first base. That leaves Herrera as the only player who can fill in if Jean Segura, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez or Khris Davis need a rest. If any of those players sustain an injury, the Brewers bench could get short fast unless they add another utility player.
Should Marco Estrada hang on to his spot in the rotation?
Estrada (5-4, 4.82 ERA) has surrendered an MLB worst 23 home runs already this season. The fly ball pitcher is having a tough time keeping those fly balls in the park, and his ERA is the worst of the Brewers starters. Potential alternatives could be Mike Fiers, who started 11 games in AAA this season and has MLB starting experience, or top prospect Jimmy Nelson, who made a spot start for the Brewers earlier this season. Nelson may be the most intriguing option, and with a 7-2 record, 1.62 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 13 appearances, he appears to be MLB ready as well.
Will Matt Garza become the consistent pitcher the Brewers paid for?
Garza signed the biggest free-agent deal in Brewers franchise history in February, a four-year $50 million dollar salary. In his first season, Garza is not living up to his end of the bargain in the eyes of many fans. His 4.02 ERA is fourth among Brewers starters, and he is still trying to bring down that number after some bad starts in late April and May. June has thus far been a better month for Garza, who has an ERA of 2.00 in four starts this month.
Can Scooter Gennett set the table as a lead-off hitter?
Gennett was recently shuffled to the top of Ron Roenicke's lineup, which has seen several changes as hot hitters were moved around. Johnathan Lucroy (.341 batting average) was moved into the third spot, Ryan Braun moved to the second spot, and Carlos Gomez has found a home at the fourth spot. To round out that top four with a quick table-setter, Roenicke tabbed Gennett as his lead-off man. Gomez started the season as the lead-off hitter, but his power led Roenicke to put him in a position where he could drive in more runs. Gennett has performed well in Gomez's old spot, hitting .385 over his last ten games. The Brewers are certainly hoping that trend can continue.
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