Slowdown Showdown: Brewers Pitched Breaking Ball for NL Central Lead

Jack MicholicCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 17:  Bill Hall #2 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts after committing an error on a ball hit by Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox to knock in a run during the second game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park on May 17, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Since the All-Star break, the Milwaukee Brewers have lost seven of 16 games, and have fallen from the top of the NL Central to the back of the pack...four games behind the Chicago Cubs.

Going into the beginning of July, the Brewers held a solid two-game lead in the NL Central, followed closely by the St. Louis Cardinals.

What seemed like a good season for the Brewers quickly took a turn for the worse, as they dropped seven of the last nine, and slid into fourth place behind the Houston Astros.

With the Brewers bullpen struggling, the crew is now just hoping to see the light of day.  With a 6.81 ERA in the span, the Brewers have also given up a .326 opposing batting average and 10 dingers in the last nine games.

To make matters worse, two of the five starting pitchers were placed on the disabled list, including Jeff Supan—who's been  experiencing a left oblique strain, and was put on the day-to-day DL. Still seeing playing time, the ongoing injury lingers.

Dave Bush has had problems recovering his elbow and bicep after being banged up by a hit right back to him. He was then placed on the 15-day DL, and probably will not see playing time until mid August. 

With matters only looking downwards, the Brewers may once again may be looking at a repeat from last season. A early win ratio, followed by a rough, mid to late season slide.

However, with an All-Star caliber offense (when hot), there is plenty of time to once again regain the lead, and at least compete with the heavy slugging Cardinals, or the division leading Chicago Cubs.

"As bad as we've played, we're still not too far out," Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said. "We've just got to try to figure it out before it spirals down too much."

The Brewers upcoming games include the rest of the series with the last place Washington Nationals, the quiet San Diago Padres, the first place LA Dodgers, and the intradivision series with the Houston Astros.

With a little less than half a season to go, the Brewers are easily still in contention of the lead for the NL Central.

So what can Brewer fans expect for the rest of the season? 

Expect the pitching rotation to put up better numbers if everyone stays healthy. With a bigger rotation and more pitchers, more rest is given—which might be the medicine the crew needs to recover from a sloppy pitching slide.

Expect players like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun to start hitting the ball harder and farther. Hopefully, their want and will to win the game will bring the rest of the team's expectations and confidence levels up, and to a whole new scale.

With hot bats from the big guys, this seemingly starts a domino effect with the rest of the Brewers lineup.

Lastly, expect the Brew Crew to once again become hot towards the end of the regular season. If rest and will power is added to the Brewers formula for success, the crew may swing a heavier bat than any team in the MLB.

Baseball is a sport that no one can really predict. Surprises await every season, whether in the offseason, the regular season, or the post season—anything is possible, even for the Milwaukee Brewers.