Why the Brewers' inability to hit away from Miller Park could be costly down the road
Milwaukee's road splits are drastically worse than at Miller Park
The Brewers hit the road Friday riding a six-game winning streak with designs on taking back first place from the Cubs. They won on Friday, 7-0, to move into a virtual tie with the Cubs, but then lost the latter pair of games of the series to fall two back (four in the loss column).
It's May 13, so watching the standings intently is a lot less important than other things. For the Brewers, who face four games in Philadelphia before three in Atlanta to round out a grueling road trip, the matter right now is hitting the ball away from Miller Park, specifically hitting for power.
Yes, the seven runs in Wrigley Field on Friday looked good, but they only had one run through six and there was some funkiness in those late runs (walks, wild pitches an error, etc.). The Brewers then scored two runs in the remaining 24 innings in the series and one of those was unearned. The other was a solo homer.
Now, it's still a small sample and, generally, everyone hits better at home than on the road, but the Brewers splits to this point -- especially with more tough road games on tap -- have to be concerning. They are 16-8 at home and 8-10 on the road so far this season. The divide in the split is vast.
Brewers at home: .260/.334/.472, 5.25 runs per game, 1.875 HR per game
Brewers on road: .218/.308/.366, 4.05 runs per game, 1.22 HR per game
As noted, most teams hit better at home than on the road, so here are the league splits for comparison's sake.
Home: .246/.324/.422, 4.63 runs per game, 1.28 HR per game
Road: .243/.314/.412, 4.57 runs per game, 1.29 per game
So this is much more than just "teams hit better at home." The Brewers skew drastically from the norm. They are greatly above average at home and pretty brutal on the road. It's not just him, but reigning MVP Christian Yelich is a big part of it.
Yelich at home: .406/.524/1.141, 15 HR, 32 RBI, 17 BB, 11 K
Yelich on road: .273/.368/.364, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 BB, 17 K
That's as drastic as I can remember six weeks into a season.
It's worth mention that Miller Park is a hitter-friendly park and that's long been the case. This season, it scores out seventh in park factor for runs and fifth for home runs.
That ... doesn't account for how ridiculous the Brewers' and Yelich's splits have been this year.
The best explanation right now is that it's a combination of comfort (everyone loves being at home!), coincidence, a hitter-friendly home and a small-sample fluke. Conspiracy theories are always welcome in the world of baseball, though.
This series with the Phillies will be a tall order, too. Here's a look at the opposing starters:
- Monday: Aaron Nola. The third-place finisher in NL Cy Young voting last year had a rough start to 2019, but in his last three starts he's pitched to a 1.47 ERA.
- Tuesday: Jerad Eickhoff. In 30 innings this year, he has a 1.50 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.
- Wednesday: Jake Arrieta. He's actually the most vulnerable, but has a 3.78 ERA (117 ERA+) in 50 innings and has thrown a few gems.
- Thursday: Zach Eflin. The league leader in wins, complete games and shutouts, Eflin . In his last three starts, he has two complete games and a 0.72 ERA in 25 innings.
Maybe the Brewers break through against good pitching and things turn around quickly. They certainly have enough talent to do so. It's also not difficult to see their road futility continuing.
If the Brewers continue to be so punchless on the road with the bats, road trips like this current one are going to be pretty miserable. They'll also need to be pretty dominant at home to overcome the road woes.
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