Milwaukee Brewers: 5 Players with the Most to Prove in September

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers: 5 Players with the Most to Prove in September

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    Despite holding a sizable lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Central lead, the Milwaukee Brewers cannot afford a slip-up from now until the end of the regular season.

    Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart have continued their dominance against opposing pitching. However, many players on Ron Roenicke's depth chart will need to prove their worth with the postseason nearly in sight.

    Which players have the most to prove before the playoffs kick off?

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Rickie Weeks

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    Milwaukee's All-Star second baseman injured his ankle back on July 27. Since then, the Brewers have rattled off an amazing 24-6 record with Jerry Hairston filling the void in Roenicke's lineup, which begs the question: Could Milwaukee actually be better off with Weeks on the bench?

    It's a ridiculously absurd question to mull over, but then again, is it?

    Speculation says the club may be better off not rushing Weeks' comeback rather than put him in harm's way once more. 

    Team chemistry is invaluable during the final month of the regular season, and with the way Milwaukee has been performing with Hairston in the lineup, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Roenicke to stick with his current lineup.

    When Weeks is ready for a comeback, he'll need to prove his worth and get back to doing what he does best.

Jonathon Lucroy

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    Lucroy is one of the better defensive catchers in the game today, but he is nothing if not inconsistent in the batter's box.

    Thus far, Lucroy carries a .280 BA, 9 HR and 53 RBI to his credit as an everyday catcher with much more wear and tear than your ordinary MLB catcher. He has, at times, flourished in the eight-hole in Roenicke's lineup, but hasn't been as dependable when needed most.

    If Lucroy expects to become an elite catcher, he'll need to get the job done with the bat in clutch situations.

Zack Greinke

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    Greinke has all the hardware necessary to back up his claim as one of baseball's most elite pitchers, but what he doesn't have is what matters most: experience.

    Being drafted sixth overall by the Royals in the 2001 MLB Draft, Greinke hasn't had many opportunities to shine on the national stage—other than his historic Cy-Young-winning 2009 campaign—and hasn't had even a remote shot at pitching in the postseason.

    With Milwaukee, he'll have that chance.

    Greinke has yet to lose at Miller Park his season, going 10-0 with a 2.96 ERA at home this season, and he'll need to prove his worth in September to show the league just how good he really is.

Prince Fielder

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    Yes, that's right. Milwaukee's slugging first baseman has a whole lot to prove in the month of September.

    Fielder is set to become the most sought-after free agent on the market this offseason, which makes September a dress rehersal for what teams will be willing to offer him this winter.

    Though currently in the midst of an MVP-type season, Fielder has run into a dry spell over the past few days—going 4-for-32 with one home run and just 6 RBI since August 21.

    Milwaukee will need Fielder's productive bat in the lineup if it is to make a run at the World Series, so take nothing for granted if he begins to scuffle in the season's final month.

John Axford

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    Axford is currently tied with Braves closer Craig Kimbrel for the league lead in saves (40), but has—at times—been unconvincing in his efforts as Milwaukee's ninth-inning man.

    If the Brewers expect to make a deep postseason run, they'll need the 28-year-old Axford at his best. His inexperience under pressure may force Roenicke to promote Francisco Rodriguez to closer if Axford begins to struggle in September.

    Axford, more than any other player, has the most to prove with pennant races heating up.