How will Crew's struggles affect Deadline plans?

Davies gives up 6 earned runs as Brewers fall again to Reds

July 24th, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- First the Brewers absorbed the loss of their best starting pitcher. Then they absorbed back-to-back losses to the last-place Reds. It’s not exactly been a banner start to the final full week before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns reiterated during the television broadcast of Tuesday’s 14-6 loss at Miller Park that he will let results in the days leading up to next week’s Deadline help determine how aggressively he adds to the team. He spoke like a man who wants to buy, but the Brewers were not doing their part down on the field. Zach Davies surrendered a pair of two-run home runs in the first inning starting with Eugenio Suarez, who’d broken the Brewers’ hearts with a two-run homer in the ninth inning the night before. Davies, Alex Claudio and Burch Smith combined to surrender 10 more runs, nine of them earned, in a three-inning stretch from the fifth to the seventh. The Brewers, coming off consecutive series victories against the Braves and D-backs, guaranteed a series loss to the Reds and fell to 9-19 against teams with losing records over the past six weeks. That stretch includes five straight losses to the Reds.

"Who we’re playing doesn’t matter,” manager Craig Counsell said. “You’ve got to play a good game to win. That’s the big leagues, that’s the National League. And we’re not playing well enough in these games. We didn’t come close to playing well enough tonight."

The Brewers, 53-50 and 1 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card position, are deep in Deadline preparations that include an array of scenarios, everything from aggressive buying to some selling. They know they will be without All-Star starter Brandon Woodruff, sidelined by a left oblique strain, until September. They are not the only team, particularly in the NL, occupying a gray area.

They are also not the only contender in need of pitching.

“You want to get to this point in the season where you have an incentive and a motivation to improve your Major League team,” Stearns said on FOX Sports Wisconsin. “We’ve been fortunate we’ve been able to do that the last couple of years, and certainly we’re in a situation this year where we’re right in the thick of the race, and we’re going to look to see what we can do over the next week to hopefully supplement this group in some capacity.”

But how much further will he reach into a bucket of prospects depleted by a flurry of trades last year starting with the Christian Yelich blockbuster? That deal, plus in-season trades for Mike Moustakas, Joakim Soria and others, helped push the Brewers to within one game of the 2018 World Series. Those trades also thinned Milwaukee’s prospect list.

“Each organization is going through their process right now, trying to determine how they are going to approach this next week,” Stearns said. “I think a lot of organizations are still in the process of coming to that conclusion -- whether or not they are going to aggressively buy, whether they are going to hold pat, some organizations may still choose to go on the other side and sell. And a lot can change in a week. I think we’ve seen that with our team over the course of a couple of different weeks. …

“This is still an important week for us against the Reds, against the Cubs coming to town this weekend. We’ll take all of that information into account as we determine what the appropriate course is for us as we get closer to the 31st.”

When the Brewers and Reds finish their series Wednesday afternoon, Stearns will have exactly one week to set that course. The Trade Deadline is at 3 p.m. CT on July 31. Beginning this year, teams can no longer make trades in August.

“I think everyone has faith in the group that we have here,” Davies said. “It’s a team that battles. You’re not going to see anybody give up in here.”

Asked what he thought might be missing from this year’s club as opposed to last year's, which was 13 games over .500 through the same number of games, Davies said, “I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know if there’s anything missing from our team. I think when things click, you’ll see a similar team to what we had last year. I know the roster changes, but the drive, the energy, that stays the same.”

“It’s been messy at times, but we’re right in the thick of this and that’s a great feeling,” Counsell said on Tuesday afternoon. “That’s got us all excited. That’s the approach to take. There’s a ton of baseball games left. Nothing has been decided. We’re all at square one. That’s how your mindset has to be. I think at this point in the season where you’re at is with your head down and just going after it and trying to win baseball games. … Around baseball, this is an important week, no question about it.”

And it’s off to a poor start for the Brewers.