A lot of things have gone wrong for the Milwaukee Brewers this season.
Injuries, poor play and a suspension to a certain left fielder have left the team well out of the playoff hunt and had a good amount of fans scrambling for their green and gold clothing by July.
The Brewers appear resigned to finish in fourth place in the National League Central and while they will finish well under .500, the past few months (and final upcoming week and a half) is hardly unwatchable for a Brewers fan.
Standout play by a number of young players should leave Brewers fans with a better feeling in their stomachs about the immediate future of the team.
The team still has plenty of issues heading into offseason, but the strong play of many of those youngsters helps to perhaps provide some answers to some of the questions.
Gennett has answered the call as Milwaukee’s everyday second baseman well since taking over for Rickie Weeks after Weeks suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in early August. Gennett is hitting .324 so far with six home runs and 18 runs batted in to go with solid defense entering play on Thursday and while some factors point to him not keeping this pace up over the long term (.376 batting average on balls in play, under .300 average in A, AA and AAA in his minor league career) he still has worked his way into the conversation for the 2014 second baseman job.
Davis started the year as a reserve OF before being sent down to AAA Nashville for a time. Davis later returned to the majors and has seen plenty of playing time since Ryan Braun’s suspension and he has made an impact. He has cracked 10 home runs in 133 plate appearances and overall is batting .282 with a .361 on-base percentage in 51 games. Davis is strictly a left fielder at this point, so unless he plans on changing positions, the only chance of him playing consistently would be to have Braun switch positions or teams.
Gindl has bounced and forth between Milwaukee and Nashville this year and has held up pretty well in the outfield, hitting .261 with five home runs to go with a .350 on-base percentage. A patient hitter with an opposite-field swing, Gindl may not get the chance to play everyday with the wealth of outfield talent in front of him, but he could represent a decent bat off the bench that could start for a period of time if needed. That’s not a bad way to make a living in the majors.
Thornburg hardly impressed while pitching at AAA Nashville (0-9 record to go with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts) but still found himself in the big leagues and has pitched solidly for the Brewers. He bounced between roles before taking Tom Gorzelanny’s spot in the rotation. In six starts with the Brewers, Thornburg has gone six innings and allowed three runs or fewer in each outing (2-1 with a 1.25 ERA). For a team in need of starting pitching, that’s a pretty valuable commodity. Assuming Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta return as the top three starters in the rotation in 2014, Thornburg figures to get a good shot along with fellow youngsters Johnny Hellweg and Jimmy Nelson as well as Marco Estrada to nail down the back two spots in the starting rotation in spring training next year.
Kinzler is hardly a youngster (turned 29 last month), but this year is the first year he’s gotten a full chance to make a mark at the big league level and he certainly has. He’s worked his way into a setup role due to a standout season (3-2 record with a 2.92 ERA, 2.03 BB per 9 innings rate) and would figure to be a major part of the bullpen’s 2014 plans.
The Brewers have about a week and a half left in what overall will be a disappointing season. The team won’t be close to the .500 mark, but still has plenty of reasons to watch and plenty of reasons to think that with a little help in the offseason, the immediate future of the team isn’t as dreary as many might have thought a few months ago.