I’ve been swamped with other stuff over the past few days and have sort of – OK, completely – neglected the blog over that time, so I’m going to do cover a couple things in brief:
– What an incredible game last night. After 13 innings, nearly seven hours, an occurrence of #weirdbaseball, and another blown save, the Brewers won 5-4 on the strength of a Ryan Braun home run and five scoreless innings by the bullpen to close it out.
The “the Brewers look like a different team than they did two months ago” cliché has been coming up a lot lately, but, in this case, I think it’s at least somewhat apropos – given enough time, even the worst teams will eventually get hot for a week or two, but I think the Brewers’ recent successes can’t be wholly attributed to a mere dead-cat bounce. That’s a good sign for next year, but, for the love of all that is holy, don’t think it nullifies anything that was said here on Monday. As cool as last night’s contest was, it was only the first game of a series the Brewers absolutely have to sweep.
– It was announced this morning that Stephen Strasburg, who has thrown 159.1 ace-level innings for the Nationals a year after having Tommy John surgery, is done pitching for the season. The decision, which has been covered and debated with a fervor usually reserved for political issues, comes with Washington almost guaranteed their first postseason appearance in three decades. And, strangely enough, if you strip away the circus that has surrounded Strasburg for most of this season, this whole scenario might even have some relevance to the Brewers.
Mike Fiers hasn’t pitched as well as Strasburg has this year, and the Brewers don’t have the looming prospect of the playoffs to contend with, but, depending on how the next couple weeks play out, they could be facing a similarly difficult decision. Fiers has been very good for the Brewers this year, but there’s been speculation of shutting him down for a reason: He has thrown significantly more innings than at any point at his career before, and hit a rough patch in the last month or so that may be at least partially due to fatigue. The Brewers haven’t said much on the matter, but this won’t be the last you hear about this if the club keeps winning enough games to make the rest of the season interesting. At this point, it’s hard to think that there’s more than a 5-10% chance of that happening.