What the Brewers need to do to keep winning
The Milwaukee Brewers are off to a hot start in 2014, winning 10 of their first 12 games thanks in large part to a nine-game winning streak. Making their record even more impressive is the fact that three of four series so far have been against playoff teams from 2013, including the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
With 150 games left in the season, the Brewers will need to improve in a few areas before we can expect them to start printing 2014 playoff tickets.
Here's a couple of them in the first of a three-installment series:
Draw more walks
The Brewers are currently drawing walks in only 5% of their at bats (ranking 29th out of 30 MLB clubs). It's not the most exciting way to play the game, but in order to keep scoring runs, Milwaukee will need to force opposing pitchers to put guys on base.
The team’s batting average on balls in play is an unsustainable .328, and though that number may not bottom out, it’s probably going to drop at least 30 points over the course of the season.
Boosting their walk rate will offset that regression and will also add the benefit of running up the pitch counts of opposing pitchers and taxing their bullpens.
Challenge bad calls more often
The new challenge system implemented by MLB this year isn’t perfect and the onus should not be on the manager to monitor how the game is officiated.
Still, everyone is playing with the new rules this year and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke needs to get with the times.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines did a study in 2010 and found that there are 1.3 calls per game that are close enough for review. Baseball Prospectus wrote earlier this year that even if the play is a 50/50 toss up, the manager should get out there and use his challenge.
Roenicke needs to be proactive since there’s no penalty for getting a challenge wrong (other than you don’t get a second challenge), and umpires can call for their own reviews starting in the seventh inning.
We'll have more on what the Brewers need to do to stay in the win column later this week.