Brewers hope for better pitching in May

Brewers hope for better pitching in May

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers turned the page on Sunday after a tough April. Here is a look at their 8-15 opening month by the numbers:

• Starting pitching was the top story. Brewers starters entered May last in the Major Leagues with a 6.32 ERA, 114 innings, five quality starts in 23 games, a .315 opponents' batting average, .943 opponents' OPS and 1.74 walks plus hits per inning pitched.

• The Brewers' overall ERA was 5.64, their WHIP was 1.71 and opponents posted a .920 OPS, making it the worst opening month of pitching in franchise history. The 1993 Brewers finished April with a 5.53 ERA, the 1999 Brewers had a 1.670 WHIP, and the '99 and 2010 clubs held the previous opening month record for OPS, at .837.

• The sheer volume of pitches was alarming. The Brewers averaged 18.2 pitches per inning in April, worst in the Majors. STATS LLC began tracking the stat in 1988, and the Brewers' April pace would match the single-season record for pitches per inning held by the '88 Tigers.

Jeffress earns the save

• The Brewers managed to acquire those ugly numbers in spite of some solid individual pitching performances. Jimmy Nelson enters Tuesday's scheduled start against the Angels with a 3.16 ERA, and he has accounted for three of the Brewers' five quality starts. Closer Jeremy Jeffress is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and pitched scoreless outings in eight of nine appearances. Tyler Thornburg also recorded scoreless games in eight of his nine April outings.

• The hitters were marginally better, ranking 19th of 30 Major League teams with 3.87 runs per game and 23rd with a .678 OPS. But the pitching problems left the Brewers with a run differential of minus-48, second-worst in the Majors to the Reds' minus-53, and matched the second-worst mark through 23 games in franchise history. Only the '93 Brewers (minus-55) were outscored more in their first 23 games.

• Offensively, the Brewers displayed newfound patience. They finished April third in the Majors at 4.06 pitches per plate appearance, trailing only the Astros (4.12) and Blue Jays (4.07), and tied for fourth with 90 walks. Last season, the Brewers were 25th in pitches per plate appearances and walks.

Carter is Player of the Month

• The Brewers' standout hitters were Ryan Braun, whose .986 OPS marked his most productive April since 2012, and Chris Carter, who ended the month tied for fourth in the National League with nine doubles and 14 extra-base hits.

• The most disappointing April performer at the plate was veteran third baseman Aaron Hill, whose .454 OPS ended the month fourth-worst among qualifying Major League hitters. His -0.6 WAR, per, was third-worst among qualifying hitters, but it was slightly better than Prince Fielder's -0.7 for the Rangers.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.