Behind Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers Stake Their Claim as MLB's Hottest Team

Alec DoppCorrespondent IJune 11, 2011

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 11: Zach Greinke #13 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Miller Park on June 11, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Zack Greinke may not quite be the bona fide ace we all witnessed during his unprecedented run at the Cy Young award back in 2009, but the Milwaukee Brewers will certainly take what their offseason pickup has administered thus far in 2011.

In Milwaukee's 5-3 victory over division rivals St. Louis Cardinals Saturday night, Greinke delivered nine strikeouts and no walks in 7.0 innings of work—improving his record to 6-1 overall in a Brewers uniform.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee's overpowering offense put up eight more runs—three coming from Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks home runs—and drew within a half game of the NL Central-leading Cardinals.

Is this a sign of what's to come in the prospective future?

The answer to that is a resounding "yes."

What this means for the rest of the league is simple: The Brewers are clearly baseball's hottest, most dangerous team thus far in 2011.

With a severely improved pitching staff loaded with reliable arms such as Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson, the Brewers are clearly the most improved team on the mound of any team from 2010.

To date, Milwaukee's 3.60 team ERA ranks sixth overall in the National League, and their eight shutout performances ties for the most in all of baseball. Couple that with arguably baseball's most elite offensive one-two punches (Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder) in MLB history, and the Brewers have all the proverbial pieces in place to make a deep postseason run.

Clearly, something's going right for the Brew Crew on the mound this season—and it isn't a coincidence by any means.

Alec Dopp is a Milwaukee Brewers featured columnist on Bleacher Report.  Follow him on twitter: @doppler9000, and read his Brewers beat blog.