The Milwaukee Brewers finished April at 14-11 and just a half-game behind St. Louis in the National League's Central Division standings, leading many to believe the 2013 campaign would be competitive and fun. They went on to win just five of their next 24 and are now 13½ games out of first. Only two major league teams - Miami and Houston - are playing worse.
The Brewers have four players performing well at the plate: Shortstop Jean Segura and outfielders Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Norichika Aoki are all hitting over .300. Gomez in particular has been on fire with 13 home runs, and Aoki has been everything a leadoff man should be. But after that group, production plummets. Three lineup regulars - Yuniesky Betancourt, Rickie Weeks, Alex Gonzalez - are hitting below .200. And with five errors apiece, Weeks and Gonzalez aren't exactly on track to win Gold Glove awards. That said, the team's batting average is a respectable .257, sixth best in the NL.
The tale of woe has been written by the pitching staff, which has compiled a team ERA of 4.49, good for dead last in the National League. Of the four starters, only Kyle Lohse gives up fewer than four earned runs per game (3.76), but that number has climbed as he racked up four losses in May. Plus, he has a sore elbow and missed a start this week.
Optimists are pointing out that Milwaukee wasn't much better a year ago, with a record of 22-28 on May 30, 2012. The Brewers were relying on their bullpen the same amount, with starters pitching just 60% of their innings, same as this year. Two key differences: At this point in 2012, the Brewers had been outscored by 22 runs as opposed to 42 for the current outfit. And Braun wasn't calling the team's situation "miserable" as he did last week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.