At 68-66 and five games out of wild-card position, the reigning National League Central champion Brewers have seen their playoff hopes drift away over the past several weeks. Now, if they’re going to make a miraculous run to another postseason berth in the final month of 2019, they may have to make do without one of their top players. Second baseman Keston Hiura is headed back to Milwaukee to have his hamstring examined after suffering an injury in the Brewers’ loss to the Cubs on Friday, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports. In the wake of that news, the Brewers are set to recall infielder Travis Shaw from Triple-A San Antonio on Friday, according to Robert Murray of The Athletic.
The brilliance of the rookie Hiura has helped phase Shaw out of the Brewers’ plans for most of the season. Hiura has overcome a 30 percent strikeout rate to slash an excellent .301/.369/.571 with 16 home runs and 2.0 fWAR over his first 295 major league plate appearances. Along the way, the 23-year-old Hiura has established himself as one of 2019’s hardest hitters, ranking near the top of the league in several Statcast metrics.
The woes Shaw has unexpectedly endured played a large role in the Brewers’ decision to call up Hiura for the second time back in July (they optioned Shaw in a corresponding move). But now that Hiura’s potentially bound for the IL and third baseman/second baseman Mike Moustakas is dealing with a wrist issue, the Brewers are left to hope for a Shaw revival.
While Shaw was an integral piece of the Brewers’ position player group from 2017-18, this year’s version has limped to a disastrous .145/.276/.279 line with six homers and a sky-high 32.5 percent K rate through 228 PA. Shaw has raked in the minors, however, having batted .286/.437/.586 (good for a 145 wRC+ in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League) and mashed 12 HRs in 174 trips to the plate.
The Brewers’ rotation, like Shaw, has gone through a less-than-ideal season – in part because emergent righty Brandon Woodruff went to the IL in late July with an oblique injury. They’re hopeful Woodruff will take the mound again in 2019, though.
“We’re trying to get him healthy for October,” manager Craig Counsell said (via McCalvy). “I mean, I think Brandon can play a huge part in this thing. The best-case scenario is obviously sometime late in the second half of September and October.”
Realistically, there won’t be an October for the sinking Brew Crew, but it would still be nice from the team’s perspective to see Woodruff finish this season healthy. The 26-year-old held his own in 117 2/3 innings before his IL placement, posting a 3.75 ERA (with a far better 3.09 FIP) and 10.4 K/9 against 2.22 BB/9. Woodruff has unquestionably been the Brewers’ most effective starter this year, and the fact that they’ve gone without him for several weeks has helped take a sledgehammer to their playoff chances.