Infield holes could hold Brewers back

Updated: August 13, 2011, 10:48 AM ET
ESPN.com

Editor's note: Throughout August, ESPN.com will take a close look at various teams in the hunt for a playoff spot to assess whether they have what it takes to survive the dog days of August and remain in contention come October.

At the bottom of the page, each team will receive a dog bone rating based on our overall analysis: five bones = serious postseason contender; four bones = good contender; three bones = average contender; two bones = poor contender; one bone = no contender.

Who's the big dog?

Zack Greinke
Greinke

Zack Greinke's peripherals were tremendous in the first half, as the Brewers' new ace recorded a whopping 99 strikeouts against only 16 walks. The results? A 5.45 ERA, naturally. But Greinke has assumed big-dog status in the second half, recording a stellar 1.38 ERA in five starts since the break. Even with a mere-mortal 35-9 K-BB ratio, Greinke's ascension makes the Brewers among the most formidable pitching units in the big leagues.

-- Jack Moore, Disciples of Uecker, an affiliate of the SweetSpot Network

Who needs to step up?

Rickie Weeks was having a monster year, fully justifying his new contract with a .272/.346/.478 line, establishing himself as one of the best bats at the keystone in the game. But then he suffered a severe ankle sprain legging out a single in a July game against the Cubs, and now he's sidelined with no timetable yet for his return. With Felipe Lopez getting the lion's share of time at second base, the Brewers might be able to win the NL Central, but they can't compete in the postseason. Weeks needs to make his way back to the lineup before October.

-- Jack Moore, Disciples of Uecker, an affiliate of the SweetSpot Network

Key stat: Greinke's strikeout percentage

Two things that have been consistent all season for Zack Greinke are his strikeouts and dominance with his slider. His strikeout percentage (K/PA) of 30.0 is tops in the majors among starters.

A big reason for Greinke's high strikeout percentage is his slider. Opposing hitters are 18-for-127 (.142) in at-bats ending with the pitch, with 78 strikeouts (58 percent). That 58 percent trails only Ricky Romero's curveball (60 percent) for the highest strikeout percentage among any starter's particular pitch.

-- Mark Malzewski, ESPN Stats & Info

Where are they going?

The Brewers hold a four-game lead in the NL Central, but could still be better equipped for a postseason run, especially in what is most likely Prince Fielder's final season with the team.

Despite the Brewers' solid rotation and bullpen to go along with a powerful offensive core -- Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart -- they are still starting two replacement-level players in the infield: Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGehee.

For a team with World Series aspirations, this is unacceptable. Failing to shore up the left side of the infield over the next couple of weeks will be a major hindrance in what might be the Brewers' best shot of seriously contending.

For more of Eric Seidman's analysis, click here Insider