Brewers Within Half a Game of Postseason
As statements about a team’s contending status go, the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6-3 run against the Dodgers, Cardinals and Nationals is a pretty good one. For months now the National League Wild Card has been all but decided, but the Brewers’ recent performance combined with a cold stretch for the Rockies has combined to leave Milwaukee on the verge of changing that for the first time since mid-June.
In addition to pushing the Brewers within half a game of the postseason, Sunday’s win over the Nationals also clinched a 4-3 season series victory over the team poised to win the National League East again in 2017. With the exception of the Chicago Cubs, the Brewers have now finished off their season schedule against all of the National League’s likely postseason contenders. Here’s a look at how they fared:
The Brewers lost two of three in Washington at the end of July as part of a 3-10 skid, but bounced back by winning three of four at Miller Park over the weekend to clinch a season series victory for the second consecutive year. The Nats got to see Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies twice each, and the pair combined to post a 1.26 ERA over 28 2/3 innings. Fifteen of the 31 runs Brewers pitchers allowed Washington this season came against Michael Blazek and Wily Peralta, who would be at best unlikely to make an appearance if these teams meet in the postseason.
As of last week the Brewers were one of just two National League teams with a record .500 or better against the dominant Dodgers this season, although the Diamondbacks have since joined them at 8-8. The Dodgers’ 22-series unbeaten streak started in Milwaukee on June 2-4 and continued until the Brewers ended it on Aug. 27. Domingo Santana homered in three of the six games against Los Angeles this season, twice in Milwaukee and once more in Los Angeles. Jimmy Nelson and Zach Davies were also spectacular against this opponent, allowing just two combined earned runs in four starts—for a 0.65 ERA.
If the Brewers fail to catch the Rockies for the NL’s final Wild Card spot, they’ll only have the early version of themselves to blame: They lost three of four games to Colorado in the season-opening series in April. In that series, however, Rockies batters faced five Brewers pitchers that are no longer on Milwaukee’s roster (Tommy Milone, Jhan Marinez, Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann and Neftali Feliz).
The Brewers beat the Rockies two out of three times in Denver in August with a roster that more closely reflects their current talent. All told, Chase Anderson is the only Brewers pitcher to make two starts against Colorado this season, and they were both good, as he has a 1.64 ERA in 11 innings against them. Jesus Aguilar has taken Rockies pitchers deep three times in just 12 at bats.
The Brewers were done with Arizona early in 2017, hosting them for four games from May 25-28 and visiting the desert for three days from June 9-11. Milwaukee split the home set before losing two of three on the road. Chase Anderson started two of those games and allowed just one run over 13 innings while recording 19 strikeouts—his greatest number of the season against any opponent.
On the offensive side, Orlando Arcia has 10 hits in 21 at bats against Arizona pitching to lead all Brewers by a wide margin. By getting Milwaukee early in the season, Arizona almost completely missed Ryan Braun (he has had just one plate appearance in a single game against them in 2017).
If the Brewers are going to reach the postseason this year, they’ll have some work to do against their own division, as NL Central opponents make up 22 of their final 25 games. If they reach that point, however, their performance against likely playoff teams would indicate they should be able to hold their own against anyone.