The 2019 season is well underway, and at 8-3, the Brewers are tied (with the Dodgers) for the best record in the NL! The only team with a better record in all of the MLB is the Seattle Mariners, who are improbably off to a 10-2 start.
Improbable because the Mariners are projected to be a pretty middling team, statistically. FiveThirtyEight originally had the team projected to place fourth in the AL West, winning at a .487 rate on the season. However, since their projections are updated after every game, they are now projected to place second in the NL West, winning at a rate of .512.
Insignificant Sample Sizes
Which goes to show that, while it’s obviously preferrable to be overperforming, like the Brewers and the Mariners currently are, we’re still deep in the “insignificant sample size” part of the season, and it’s not realistic to expect the Brewers to keep winning at the rate they are now.
FiveThirtyEight currently has the Brewers projected to wind up 88-74 on the season while winning the division, and folks, I’ll take it.
As they say - you can’t win the division in April and March, but you can lose it. The Cubs are the flip side of this story and currently stand at 3-7 on the year. They’ll obviously regress to the mean and wind up winning at a much higher rate than their current .300 on the season, but if they don’t pull out of their current skid soon, their postseason chances will become vanishingly small.
Wisconsin sportswriter Paul Imig has coined the “Kimbrel Challenge,” which is simply attempting to say the name “Craig Kimbrel” five times fast:
Also, try to say “Craig Kimbrel” 5 times fast. pic.twitter.com/2dpgfQfAX6— Paul Imig (@Paulimig) March 26, 2019
One wonders if it works like summoning Beetlejuice: if you successfully say his name 3 times, does Craig Kimbrel appear?
While multiple stories have come out about how it’s pretty unlikely that the Brewers and Kimbrel will wind up coming to any kind of agreement, it doesn’t seem like the book is entirely closed on him as he remains a free agent. Which is all sorts of weird, considering that he was the winning closer of the most recent World Series.
I’m a little less bullish on Kimbrel than I may have been last time. If his asking price is so astronomical, I’d rather not have the team sign him to a gigantic multi-year deal in a panic before we see how the Brewers pitching staff looks once Jeremy Jeffress and Jimmy Nelson both return.
Jeffress is expected to pitch as early as the upcoming Dodgers/Brewers series in Milwaukee (starting next week Thursday), while Nelson is not expected back for a little while after that.
It may be the best for the Brewers to muddle through the first half with their pitching staff as-is, and potentially make a move at the All-Star break if a playoff push still looks attainable.
Still, if this truly is the “World Series or Bust” season, it’d be a shame to let it slip away by being too timid to make a roster move to bolster the bullpen in the advent of losing Corey Kenebel for the season.