Depth Keeps Brewers Atop NL Central Despite Sudden Rash Of Injuries

There’s an old adage in baseball: don’t bother looking at the standings until at least Memorial Day, and with that traditional benchmark point of the schedule come and gone, a cursory glance of the standings shows the Milwaukee Brewers still leading the National League Central Division.

By winning six of the first nine games of their season-long 11-game road trip through San Diego, St. Louis and Chicago, the Brewers closed out the month of May with a 32-19 record that put them four full games ahead of the second-place Cardinals in the division and just two back of the Dodgers for the best record in the National League.

There’s still a long ways to go and the road is only going to get tougher but here’s a look back at how the Brewers fared in May:

What went right

Depth: Injuries are unavoidable over the course of a 162-game Major League Baseball season and they finally caught up to the Brewers in May (see below). President of Baseball Operations David Stearns has made having a deep bench a focal point of his roster-building process and it’s paid off as a number of players have stepped up to fill voids created by injuries to players on the roster.

Tyrone Taylor: After getting off to a slow start, Taylor has returned to the form that made him one of the Brewers’ most promising and valuable young talents over the last few seasons. Taylor’s average had dipped to .203 on the season after going 0-for-3 with a walk in a 3-0 loss to the Braves on May 17 but in the 12 games since, he’s batting .341 (15-for-44) with five homers, 15 RBIs and a 1.102 OPS while also making some dazzling plays in the outfield.

What went wrong

Injuries: The Brewers caught a break by getting through all of Spring Training and the first month of the season relatively unscathed by injuries but that changed in May as a number of key players — including shortstop Willy Adames, outfielder Hunter Renfroe and starting pitchers Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff — all landed on the IL in the span of two weeks. The good news is that none of those injuries appear to be serious and all four should be able to return at some point in the relatively near future.

Lorenzo Cain’s bat: Never one to mince words, Cain was brutally honest when asked to describe his season so far: “terrible.” The numbers back up Cain’s self-assessment. In 34 games, the veteran is slashing just .191/.254/.252 with a home run, seven RBIs and a .506 OPS. He’s still a valuable asset on defense, though, and when he does get on base, a threat to do damage on the basepaths so the Brewers are more than willing to ride it out with Cain, especially with the aforementioned Taylor able to step in and take on a bigger role in center.

By the numbers

12-5 — Brewers’ record in one-run games this season

17 — Number of games Milwaukee won in May.

32 — Number of consecutive save opportunities converted by Josh Hader, who hasn’t blown a save since July 7 of last season.

561 — Number of victories Craig Counsell has as manager of the Brewers since he was hired to replace Ron Roenicke in May 2015. Counsell is three victories away from surpassing all-time franchise leader Phil Garner, who won 563 games during his tenure from 1992-’99.

He said it

“He’s one of one,” — Brewers pitcher Aaron Ashby on closer Josh Hader, who notched saves in both games of a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Cubs.

On the Farm

While the Brewers take care of business at the big-league level, their minor league affiliates are all off to great starts in 2022, as well, with all but one team closing the month atop the standings in its respective division.

  • Triple-A Nashville: 33-15 (1st, International League West)
  • Double-A Biloxi: 22-22 (3rd, Southern League South)
  • High-A Wisconsin: 29-17 (T1st, Midwest League West)
  • Low-A Carolina: 26-20 (1st, Carolina League North)

Including Milwaukee’s MLB record, the Brewers’ organization has a combined 141 victories and a .610 winning percentage, both of which are the best in baseball so far this season.

Injury Report

  • SS Willy Adames (left ankle)
  • OF Hunter Renfroe (right hamstring)
  • RHP Luis Perdomo (right elbow)
  • RHP Jandel Gustave (right elbow)
  • RHP Jake Cousins (right elbow)
  • RHP Freddy Peralta (right shoulder)
  • RHP Justin Topa (right forearm flexor)

Up Next

Much has been made of the Brewers’ schedule during the first two months of the season, which featured a steady diet of teams already buried deep in the standings. That’s about to change, however, as the June slate features tough home dates against the Padres, Cardinals and Blue Jays and road series against the Mets and Rays.

The schedule is light on divisional opponents in June. Milwaukee will face NL Central teams just eight times but half of those will come against the rival Cardinals, who the Brewers have split their first eight meetings against.