Milwaukee Brewers may need upgrade in lineup to succeed in postseason

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Rowdy Tellez hits a two-run home run against the Pirates on Aug. 14 in Pittsburgh. (AP file photo)


AP Sports Writer

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers made a franchise-record fourth straight playoff appearance this fall and have the type of starting rotation that could enable them to keep that streak going in future years.

But their loss to the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series revealed they may need to upgrade their lineup if they’re ever going to get back to the World Series for the first time since 1982.

A lineup that struggled to score runs at various points in the season produced a total of six runs in the four-game series. The Brewers went scoreless in 33 of 36 postseason innings.

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader throws during the seventh inning of a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 23 in Phoenix, Ariz. (AP file photo)

“We’ve got the best pitching in baseball, I think,” first baseman Rowdy Tellez said Tuesday after the Brewers were eliminated with a 5-4 Game 4 loss in Atlanta. “And I think just after this loss, it’s tough. It’s kind of devastating. We didn’t think it would be like this.”

The Brewers won 95 games and took over sole possession of the NL Central lead for good in June, but postseason frustration continued for a franchise that has never won the World Series.

Milwaukee was a game away from getting to the World Series in 2018 before losing Game 7 of the NL Championship Series at home to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers haven’t won a playoff series since.

The Brewers had reason to believe they could make a long postseason run this year because of a rotation featuring three All-Stars in Cy Young Award candidate Corbin Burnes (11-5, 2.43 ERA), Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) and Freddy Peralta (10-5, 2.81).

“Those guys all took big steps forward,” manager Craig Counsell said. “And they want that label, I think, of what they’ve earned this year, and they deserve it. And I think they’re not going to stop trying to go to the next place.”

That pitching was good enough to help the Brewers roll to a division title without much hitting. The Brewers ranked 27th out of 30 MLB teams in batting average (.233), though they were 12th in runs scored (738).

Atlanta exposed the shortcomings of Milwaukee’s lineup and left the pitching staff with little margin for error. When Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman hit a tiebreaking homer off All-Star closer Josh Hader in the eighth inning of Game 4, the Brewers couldn’t respond.


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