The Milwaukee Brewers continued their hot play on Saturday, winning their eighth game in nine tries by topping the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 7-5 final (box score). The Brewers, now 32-26 on the season, trail in the National League Central by half a game, depending on the outcome of Saturday night's Chicago Cubs' game against the San Francisco Giants (GameTracker).
The Brewers owe some credit for their recent run to shortstop Willy Adames, who Milwaukee acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21. On Saturday, for instance, he delivered a two-run homer that gave the Brewers a three-run lead in the sixth inning. Overall, Adames has hit .271/.364/.500 with three home runs in 14 games with the Brewers, as opposed to the .197/.254/.371 with five home runs he had delivered in 41 games with the Rays.
While Adames' time with Milwaukee qualifies as a small sample, his improvements aren't just surface-level. His average exit velocity is a full tick higher with Milwaukee than it was with Tampa Bay, and he's lowered his launch angle. He's also improved upon both his strikeout and walk rates, with the former dipping from 35.9 percent to 27.3 percent, and the latter increasing from seven percent to 12.7 percent.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of Adames' Brewers tenure can be found in his plate discipline numbers. He's swinging, whiffing, and chasing less frequently since the trade:
If Adames can maintain at least of those gains, it'll lend credence to his explanation for struggling in games at Tropicana Field. "You can see the difference in numbers," he told reporters last September. "Since the beginning of last year, I was having trouble, I guess. Every time we come from the road, it's different in here. I don't want to make an excuse of that. I've just been struggling here."
Though that may have sounded like a convenient excuse for poor play, there might be something there. After all, Adames hit .217/.275/.341 at the Trop versus .255/.322/.421 overall. That kind of disparity is jarring, especially since players tend to perform better at home.
Of course, Adames doesn't have to keep up this level of production to be a welcomed addition to a Brewers lineup that ranked 27th in the majors entering Saturday, as judged by FanGraphs' wRC+ metric; he just has to be better than Luis Urías and the other individuals who would've received playing time for Milwaukee had he never been acquired. So far, so good in that respect.
The Brewers will wrap up their series with the Diamondbacks on Sunday before heading on the road for a three-game set versus the Cincinnati Reds.