For as disappointing as the Cubs have been this year, the Brewers are no doubt right there, too.
The 2018 NL Central winner, in a tie-breaker game over the Cubs, have fallen back to just barely over .500 thanks to a number of players who hit their 90th percentile outcomes last year coming back to earth this year (or worse). When your competitiveness is largely predicated on two otherworldly performers (Christian Yelich and Josh Hader) and little else, it is hard to sustain a great winning percentage in baseball. The sport just doesn’t work that way.
I mention all of that not because I am taking glee in it (the Cubs’ struggles have robbed me of that for now), but because the latest news from the Brewers’ world pretty much punctuates that idea.
Jhoulys Chacin was surprisingly incredible for the Brewers last year, posting a 3.50 ERA and 2.4 WAR after having to settle for a nothingburger two-year contract when teams didn’t buy his success at Petco Park the year before. In a rotation of surprisingly successful nobodies, Chacin was one of the best for the Brewers.
Then this year happened.
Chacin, who started on Opening Day, found absolutely no success at all, at any time, in any way. And, after 19 miserable starts, the Brewers finally pulled the plug. The 31-year-old righty has been released. If his season is over, he’ll head into free agency trying to find a good minor league deal, I reckon, and convince teams that something flukey happened this year, and not the two previous seasons.
The Chacin flop, like the Brewers rotation he leaves, remains emblematic of how the Brewers found incredible success in 2018, and then have terrified Brewers fans all year in 2019. Gio Gonzalez, for example, was brilliant after a midseason pick up last year, and has been merely average this year, including getting blown up by the Cardinals last night. The Brewers had to pick up Pirates discard Jordan Lyles to plug into their rotation, if that tells you anything.
Ultimately, the Brewers are probably performing this year much closer to their true talent level than they did last year … which sucked for the Cubs, but sucks harder for a Brewers club that has a weak farm system, less payroll flexibility, and is squandering the best of Yelich and Hader.
Can they turn it on late like they did last year and still pick up a playoff spot? Sure. Of course. Am I confident the Cubs, for example, will beat up on the Brewers down the stretch? Heck no.
I’m just saying that the Brewers, like the Cubs, are ultimately a lot more flawed than they showed last year, and more flawed than perhaps we gave them debit for back in March.