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The Brewers are rolling to end April

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes a red-hot Brewers’ team, Jonny Venter’s return to baseball, and a glove full of popcorn.

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The common narrative around the league heading into the year that there would be, if we were lucky, just one competitive division this year. Of course, teams couldn’t have that approach, particularly the ones that are built to win right now. That includes the Brewers, who had higher preseason expectations than they’ve had in some time after arriving earlier than expected in 2017 and bringing in some big pieces over the winter. The Cubs were still the presumed favorite, but everyone acknowledged Milwaukee’s chance to make some noise.

Over the first few weeks of the season, they didn’t quite live up to those expectations. They weren’t bad per se — and they have a front-row seat to what bad is being in the same division as the Reds — but they didn’t come out of the gates firing. They were just 8-9 through their first 17 games and they lost Christian Yelich to the disabled list. Now, after their latest win over the Royals, they’ve won eight straight and have jumped to the top of a surprisingly croweded NL Central.

It’s been a particularly interesting streak for the Brewers because the pitching has been the standout portion of the roster. Milwaukee was expected to be built around its lineup and one of the strangest parts of this past winter is that they didn’t go after at least one more starter, but during this run they are looking smart. After Jhoulys Chacin and the bullpen allowed just two runs on Wednesday, they’ve now allowed just 14 over this entire eight-game run. The bullpen has been phenomenal of late, which is particularly impressive since they’re without Corey Knebel, their top relief arm.

Obviously we know that we can’t put too much stock into any April result. That being said, the NL Central is looking pretty crowded and any separation you can create is going to be most welcome. The Cubs were the presumed favorites heading into the year, and they still are. However, they’ve been sluggish to start the year and the Brewers will bank as many wins as possible over them whenever they can. The Pirates’ hot start still has them close to the top of the division, and the Cardinals have been doing their best to keep pace with Milwaukee with their own run of eight wins in ten games. The Brewers still have plenty of work to do, but they’ve gotten a much-needed jump start after a lackluster beginning to their season.