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  • Golden Opportunity Awaits the Brewers in September


    Tim Muma

    Despite inconsistent play, dissatisfaction after the trade deadline, and still trailing in the hunt for a postseason berth, the Milwaukee Brewers have a tremendous opportunity in front of them. Starting Friday, Milwaukee has a favorable schedule that will determine their fate one way or the other.

    Image courtesy of © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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    Before you go the negative route in your thinking, keep in mind the 2022 Brewers started the season 32-18. That was the best 50-game start in franchise history. Yeah, it feels like a decade ago, but this was the team that did it, and it included games against the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres. After dropping the series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee sits at 65-58. Almost immediately following that 50-game stretch, the Brewers dropped 10 of 11 contests, partly due to multiple injuries. A 162-game season creates those peaks and valleys.

    From that point on (June 15), Milwaukee has a 31-29 mark. Nothing special, but not the collapse of a season many like to portray. With 39 games remaining, there is plenty of time to turn a frustrating season into another playoff appearance and "bite at the apple."

    It begins Friday with a significant shift in Milwaukee's schedule. The Brewers play six consecutive series against teams owning a .500 or worse record (depending on the San Francisco Giants games). Yes, we've been down this road before, and it was ugly when the Brewers went 1-5 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds after the Josh Hader trade. However, there were extenuating circumstances, and the Brewers now sense the urgency to battle. Here's a look at the breakdown of when Milwaukee can make up ground in the standings:

    • Three-game series vs. the Chicago Cubs (54-71)
    • Three-game series vs. the Pirates (47-77)
    • Four-game series vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks (56-67)
    • Three-game series vs. the Colorado Rockies (54-72)
    • Doubleheader vs. Giants (61-62)
    • Three-game series vs. the Reds (48-75)

    The combined winning percentage of those six teams is just .430 this season. These next 18 games put the Brewers in the driver's seat to fill up the win column before they face the Cardinals again on September 13. Many have started focusing on the Wild Card, with the Brewers five games behind the Cardinals in the division. However, they could erase that deficit just as quickly as St. Louis overtook Milwaukee in recent weeks. The Cards have been running hot for a while, having gone 18-4 in their last 22 games. That means some regression is coming, and the Crew must take advantage.

    Another positive for the Brewers is that 11 of those next 18 contests are at American Family Field, with just the seven-game trip to San Francisco and Colorado in the middle of four home series. The Brewers owns a 31-24 mark at home, while each opponent they will face is below .500 on the road. Some teams are even 15-20 games under the break-even level away from their home park.

    It will be crucial to make headway during those 18 matchups because then Milwaukee hits a pitfall for three series amongst the softer schedule. They get the Cardinals on the road for a two-game tilt, then come home to take on both New York clubs in three-game sets. The Yankees (76-48) and Mets (79-46) lead their respective East divisions and have top-five records in MLB.

    The Yankees have had a ton of trouble winning games lately, but it appears they are coming off that struggle bus, unfortunately for the Brewers. Meanwhile, the Mets have one of the top pitching staffs in the league, offering up a significant challenge for Milwaukee's already-inconsistent bats. If the Brewers can handle their business against the lesser clubs, they don't need to win each series against the New York teams. Some good news for the Brewers: They have a winning record against teams over .500, something the Cardinals can't brag about this year.

    Following those three tough series, the schedule bounces right back into Milwaukee's favor. They take their final road trip of the year with a four-game set in Cincy against a Reds club that has lost even more talent in the past month. Then the Brewers play their last nine games at home with two against St. Louis, a four-game series versus the Miami Marlins (54-69), and a year-end three-game against the Diamondbacks. As challenging as Milwaukee's schedule has been for most of the year, the calendar gives them every chance to make another September run into the playoffs in 2022.

    The chart below puts into perspective the key difference between their overall record last year versus this season:

    Brewers record opp.JPG

    Ultimately, it comes down to the Brewers playing better baseball against lower-level opponents. Milwaukee's combined 24-20 record against the Cubs, Pirates, and Reds isn't good enough for a playoff contender. Whether the Brewers have played down to their foes' level, had mental issues creating on-field failures, or just performed poorly in recent matchups, they need to hit their stride when it matters most. Most know manager Craig Counsell has had a knack for finding ways to run off win streaks in the season's final month. He has taken on some deserved scrutiny for several of his decisions this season, so it is fair to wonder if anything will be different come September. Of course, it's the players who decide the results on the field.

    The division crown is still in sight, and a Wild Card entry to the playoffs is right in front of the Brewers, fighting with the Philadelphia Phillies and the sinking Padres. How Milwaukee handles the 29 games against teams at or below .500 will make or break any thoughts of a deep October run. As frustrating as this team has been at times, September and beyond could once again be a lot of fun.

     

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    OK. "could" happen.  But I had to flinch at (1) the idea of an easy schedule when beating sub-.500 teams  hasn't been that easy so far, and (2) the euphemism of "inconsistent" offense when "consistently sub-par" offense would seem more accurate.  But I'd love to be wrong and to eat these words.  

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    I think they have as good a shot as any at Wild Card #2 and Wild Card #3 (especially with their best starter Zach Wheeler, and two best bullpen pitchers (Knebel and Dominguez) on the DL.

    The Brewers are now games out of first, with only 4 remaining against St. Louis.  Both teams have just 13 games remaining against winning teams but the Brewers have 39 total games remaining to the Cardinals' 37.   The Brewers chances for the Division for all intents and purposes hang on the remaining four games with the Cardinals. Short of taking at least 3 of 4 of those remaining games they don't have a realistic path to the Division title. 

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    Taking 3 of 4 vs STL means we only gain one game in the standings, correct?

    Anything less than 4 wins does us no good at all.  That way we gain 4 games.

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    As we have already found out this year, there are no easy teams to play and nothing is given. I wish that I could be more optimistic, however, I don’t see any signs of drastic improvement any time soon with their recent (>3 months) play. We all know that they severely lack any clutch hitting (17th in BA w/ RISP) and their RP has been poor(15 in ERA and 17 in WHIP). I predict they will have a record <0.500 in their remaining 39 games.

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    Sixto, I know you are one of the more negative posters on this board, but to expect them to be under .500 ROS with 29 of their remaining 39 against non-playoff teams seems to be really over the top...

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    24 minutes ago, Hopper said:

    Taking 3 of 4 vs STL means we only gain one game in the standings, correct?

    Anything less than 4 wins does us no good at all.  That way we gain 4 games.

    Three of four would be a two game bump.

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    11 minutes ago, Jim French Stepstool said:

    Three of four would be a two game bump.

    Right. Taking 3 out of the final 4 from the Cards would put Milwaukee 4 GB. Next, the Brewers have 2 extra games remaining than St. Louis. Theoretically if the Brewers won them both it would put them 3 GB.  Thus, out playing St. Louis by three games over the final 30 seems doable. No less importantly taking 3 of the final 4 against the Cardinals would give the Brewers the season series (10-9) and the tie break for the Division. 

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    Another reason for optimism: the Padres, who we trail by only a game and a half, have the 5th most difficult remaining schedule in baseball, with a total 9 games remaining against the Dodgers. The opportunity is certainly there, but it will of course require taking care of business against the lesser teams. 

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    3 hours ago, Brewin said:

    Sixto, I know you are one of the more negative posters on this board, but to expect them to be under .500 ROS with 29 of their remaining 39 against non-playoff teams seems to be really over the top...

    Hey buddy, as we saw with a 6-13 record against the Reds, Cubs and Pirates since June 30 going 15-14 may be overly optimistic. I consider myself more realistic than putting my Brewer goggles on believing this team is something special this year. Let’s just say I’m up over $350.00 at the sports book this season.

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    15 minutes ago, Brewin said:

    Your defensive response speaks volumes about your "fandom". Good luck at the sportsbook

    What was defensive? Realism (me) versus fantasy (you).

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    Defensive would be anyone that isn't overly negative about the team has "Brewer goggles" on. You think your viewpoint is realistic, versus overly negative. I guess the next six weeks will provide that answer...

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    9 minutes ago, Brewin said:

    Defensive would be anyone that isn't overly negative about the team has "Brewer goggles" on. You think your viewpoint is realistic, versus overly negative. I guess the next six weeks will provide that answer...

    I never even implied that. I just have a different opinion of this particular Brewer roster than you and others do. Just because my opinion doesn’t align with yours doesn’t mean I’m right or wrong or positive or negative just my current thoughts. It really doesn’t matter what I think or for that matter what you think either. As you say, the answer is 39 games away. Enjoy! Have a successful day.

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    1) Craigtember hasn't been a thing since 2019. Do we still think it's a thing?  We shall see.

    2) They have struggled to beat bad teams because they are an average team.  They are under +30 for run differential so far because they just aren't putting enough good pitching and/or good hitting together. Can they? I guess, but will they?

    Edit: Title shouldn't read " in September", but "starting today".

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