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Jeffress, Milwaukee, suffering through ups and downs

South Boston News
Jeremy Jeffress signs autographs before Friday’s game against Washington at Nationals Park. (Ray Reynolds photo) / August 22, 2019

Just like the inconsistent Milwaukee Brewers, last year’s National League All-Star, Jeremy Jeffress, has encountered ups and downs in 2019.

But he is still a vital part of the equation as Milwaukee, a contender for perhaps the National League Central division. The Brew Crew is certainly involved for at least the second wild card.

Milwaukee is certainly trying to find a very competitive push for the postseason.

Jeffress reflected on the campaign recently before the annual trip to Washington. The Nationals won two of three in the series.

“Little ups and downs here and there. Didn’t start the season like I wanted to, a little shoulder ache. The trainers got me right, started in Triple A (in San Antonio on a rehab assignment). Got back here, got back in the mix,” said Jeffress.

“I think all of my pitches have been great. Couple of pitches, getting back in tune, throwing them in the right counts, stuff like that. Attacking hitters, like I was last year. I’ve just got to get back in that mode,” he said.

Jeffress began the season on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder injury. He was reinstated on April 16 after four rehab games at Triple-A San Antonio.

Jeffress and the Brew crew remain very much of a factor. While they might not go as deep as they did last season in the hunt for a World Series berth, no one will be underestimating this club.

“It’s all about getting hot at the right time, especially in this division. It’s so close, you get hot at the right time. We’ll be in the right spot come towards the end,” said Jeffress.

Tom Haudricourt, the beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, offered this view of Jeffress in 2019.

“Well, he was behind the eight-ball, because he started on the IL with a shoulder issue. He was playing catch-up right at the start. It took him a while to get his shoulder strength back.

“He had trouble getting his split-finger (fastball) going too. That’s such a good pitch for him. Lately, he’s been throwing it pretty good.

“He’s going to be big for (Milwaukee) down the stretch. They don’t have Corey Knebel this year. (The reliever is lost for the season following Tommy John surgery). That bullpen is big for the Brewers. They use their bullpen a lot,” he said.

CLOSE CALL: Jeffress showed his athleticism during a frightening mid-season incident on the road against Minnesota.

Twins’ batter Willians Astudillo hit a screamer right back to the box, and Jeffress had a personal highlight film.

“It scared the heebie-jeebies out of me,” said Jeffress. “It was a 2-2 count, and I didn’t want to go 3-2. I gave him my best pitch and he lined it right back up the middle. I saw it,” said Jeffress.

“The reactions I had (prevented serious injury.) We’re always looking when we release the ball to become an infielder,” said Jeffress.

“I saw it at the last second and reacted,” said Jeffress.

THE LOOK AHEAD: “The biggest goal is to make sure when I go in the game, I’m putting up zeros,” said Jeffress.

Jeffress recently worked in a key showdown with Minnesota and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings. He had two strikeouts and one hit batsman. Jeffress stranded two inherited runners in the fourth inning during that appearance.

“We need a closer every inning. It really doesn’t matter once you come in a game, you get the ball, you just close that inning,” said Jeffress.

BREAD AND BUTTER: JJ’s Bread and Butter food truck has caught on successfully in Milwaukee.

Jeffress adopted the idea of a food truck and has been working with South Boston’s Breedlove Ford, and his son, Alfred, on the promotional efforts.

“It’s been going very well in Milwaukee. We’ve got his son, Al Ford (involved). We’ve been all over Milwaukee with the food truck. It’s been a great success,” said Jeffress.

The food truck has been rolling across the city, in front of banks and parks, and this is a positive. It’s also a potential career choice after his playing days are over.

THE LONG VIEW: Jeffress has enjoyed a lengthy career in the bigs, but does not take this deal for granted.

“Sure every single day I go the park, man, these guys know who I am. They know what type of person I am. I make sure I’m there, showing them, giving them Jeremy Jeffress. Coming to the park, ready to play,” said Jeffress.

“They’re looking to me to put some spark in their game a little bit, and have fun.”

Jeffress had an inconsistent outing Tuesday night at St. Louis, allowing two hits and three earned runs.

Jeffress took the loss, falling to 3-4. He now has a 5.12 ERA, with 51.1 innings pitched and 46 strikeouts.

The Brewers (64-62) continue to struggle.

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