Opposite dugout: Brewers aiming for culture change while cleaning house and searching for new GM

brewers-logo.jpgManager: Craig Counsell (1st season)

Record: 52-70

Last 10 games: 5-5

Who to watch: RF Ryan Braun (.276/.345/.499 with 22 HR, 72 RBIs), 1B Adam Lind (.284/.364/.479 with 17 HR, 67 RBIs), LF Khris Davis (14 HR, 41 RBIs), RHP Taylor Jungmann (7-4, 2.23 ERA), RHP Francisco Rodriquez (30 saves, 2.06 ERA)

Season series vs. Nationals: 2-2

Pitching probables:

Aug. 21: RHP Jimmy Nelson vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 22: RHP Taylor Jungmann vs. TBA, 7:05 p.m., MASN2
Aug. 23: RHP Matt Garza vs. TBA, 1:35 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Brewers:

As the Brewers sit in the cellar of what is easily the toughest division in the National League, they have turned to look ahead and begun cleaning house for a fresh start. The wheels started turning more than a week before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline when the Brewers traded third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who had hit 11 home runs and 42 RBIs, and cash to the Pirates for a minor league player. And the moves ramped up from there.

The day before the trade deadline, Milwaukee traded right-handed starter Mike Fiers (5-9, 3.89 ERA), center fielder Carlos Gomez (.262, eight homers and 43 RBIs) and cash to the Astros for four minor league players. Then on July 31, they sent righty reliever Jonathan Braxton (5.89 ERA in 36 2/3 innings) and more cash to the Cardinals for a minor leaguer, and outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Orioles for a minor league pitcher. Do you see a pattern here?

The turnover accumulated when Brewers general manager Doug Melvin stepped down on August 11, vacating a position that Nationals assistant general manager and vice president of player development and pro scouting Doug Harris is reportedly a front-runner to fill. But for now, let's focus on those players who are still on the field for the Brew Crew as they come to D.C.

Leading the way per usual is right fielder Ryan Braun, who is slashing .276/.345/.499 and leading the team with 22 home runs and 72 RBIs in his sixth All-Star season. First baseman Adam Lind is right behind him while hitting for a .284/.364/.479 slash line, 17 homers and 67 RBIs. Left fielder Khris Davis hasn't been able to stack up with Braun and Lind in terms of average, but he has added some power with 14 longballs, 41 runs batted in and a .471 slugging percentage. Rounding out the noteworthy contributors on this transitioning team is shortstop Jean Segura, who is hitting .257 and has knocked 35 runs in.

Without a true ace, right-hander Jimmy Nelson is as close as you're going to get to one in this Brewers rotation. Nelson is 9-9 with a 3.61 ERA this season, but has seen some really good second-half success. He is 3-0 with a 1.99 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break, with the Brewers winning all but one of those starts. The game they lost, Nelson pitched seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the Cubs. He has, however, had trouble with left-handed batters, who are hitting .295 off him compared to .194 for righties. In his only career outing against the Nationals earlier this season, Nelson was rocked for 10 hits and seven runs in five innings, while striking out three and giving up two walks, home runs to Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos, and two hit batters in the 7-2 loss.

The Brewers have seen some promise in rookie right-hander Taylor Jungmann, who starts the second game of this three-game set. He is posting a 7-4 record with a 2.23 ERA in the first 13 starts of his major league career. Jungmann really impressed when he threw a complete game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, limiting them to just one run on three hits while striking out seven in a 4-1 win. That's an improvement from about a month earlier when he gave up seven hits and two runs while taking the 4-0 loss in his first appearance against the Nationals. Jungmann is equipped with a 92 mph fastball, a 76 mph curveball and an 85 mph changeup.

Veteran Matt Garza will close out this series on Sunday for the Brewers. He has struggled with a 6-13 record and a 4.98 ERA this season, which has been due to inconsistency. He has only won back-to-back starts once while going through three-game losing streaks twice. Back in June, Garza went six innings while giving up seven hits, five runs (only one earned) and a home run to Clint Robinson and striking out seven, taking the no-decision in the Brewers' 6-5 comeback victory. He has never beaten the Nats in seven career starts with an 0-3 record and 6.27 ERA. Garza can't be too excited to return to Nationals Park, where he is 0-1 in two starts. But that's not even the bad part. He has only pitched a combined 2 2/3 innings over those two starts, giving up 13 hits and 12 runs (11 earned) for a 42.43 ERA. If there were ever a place Garza did not want to pitch, it would be here in D.C.

The Brewers have the largest deficit in any division race throughout the major leagues, yet the Marlins, Rockies and Phillies are behind them in the overall standings, which goes to show how good the Nation League Central-leading Cardinals are and how tough that division is. As the Brewers look to close out this season, it will be interesting to see who steps into their GM position. If it is indeed Doug Harris, look for him to implement the same type of culture in Milwaukee's organization as Mike Rizzo has here in Washington of drafting well and improving the big league club through the farm system.

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