The Milwaukee Brewers entered Saturday five games back in the wild card race and six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. If the Brewers are to return to the postseason — and the odds were already stacked against them — they’ll have to make a run sooner than later, and they might have to do so without rookie second baseman Keston Hiura.
On Saturday, Hiura was placed on the injured list due to a strained hamstring that will see him miss at least the next 10 days:
Hiura has been one of Milwaukee’s most productive players despite appearing in just 70 games. He’s hit .301/.369/.571 with 16 home runs and nine stolen bases in 295 trips to the plate, resulting in a 138 OPS+ that ranks second on the club (behind Christian Yelich). Additionally. Hiura has accumulated the sixth most Wins Above Replacement on Milwaukee’s roster, per Baseball-Reference.com.
To make matters worse for the Brewers, Hiura’s injury comes at a time when Mike Moustakas is already out due to a bruised wrist. Milwaukee has been using a Hernan Perez-Cory Spangenberg platoon at the hot corner to no great success. Now, with Hiura also out, the Brewers have to hope Travis Shaw can turn his season around.
Previously a reliable stick, Shaw has posted a 45 OPS+ this season in 228 plate appearances. This isn’t a case of bad luck, either. Shaw is striking out significantly more often (32.5 percent, or 10 percentage points higher than his career norm) and has altered his launch angle in a way that has resulted in him popping up and/or getting underneath the ball too often.
To Shaw’s credit, he has performed better in Triple-A. The Brewers will need him to carry over that success to the majors. If not, their long playoff odds — in the single digits, per most sources — may actually overstate their chances of making it back to October.
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