You may have heard that the Milwaukee Brewers traded for Cy Young award winning pitcher Zach Greinke last week. That move immediately pushed them into the running for the top spot of the National League Central, making it likely a three-team race in 2011 with the Cardinals and Reds.
In 2010, the Brewers finished a distant third with a record of 77-85. The offense was not a problem. They were fourth in runs scored in the majors with 750. No, the problem was the pitching, and the starting pitching specifically. The Brewers allowed the third most runs in the majors, a whopping 804. It’s very difficult to pull off a winning record, let alone competing for a playoff spot, when you allow that many more runs than you score.
In addition to the Greinke deal, the Brewers earlier had traded for right-handed pitcher Shaun Marcum. He’s not as famous as Greinke, but he’s still a major upgrade over the likes of those they had starting last year (Jeff Suppan, I’m looking at you). Marcum has had three solid years in a row, and 2011 will be his age 29 season. He’ll slip into the number 3 slot in the rotation, behind Greinke, and Yovani Gallardo.
The Brewers did a great job in assessing their weakness and in implementing a plan to address it. It’s a short-term plan, especially considering some of the great talent given up for Greinke, but with slugger Prince Fielder signed for just one more year, the time is now. Run prevention from the starting pitching killed them last year. With these two pitchers, that should not be the case in 2011.