Yes, we've been down this road before, perceiving an "easy" schedule for the Brewers only to see them play just good enough to stay in the hunt. Maybe it's because the Brewers won four of five games or because the Padres gave back two games in the standings over the weekend; either way, the final 21 games for these clubs could create drama for the final Wild Card spot. There is a realistic path for the Brewers to reach a fifth consecutive postseason, but it's no guarantee.
Let's start with a look at San Diego's slate.
They start with two road games against the Seattle Mariners. Seattle is 79-61 overall and 42-20 (.677) since July 1. Milwaukee would love to see Seattle sweep that mini-series. The Padres then travel to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks in a four-game set. While the Diamondbacks are 4-11 against San Diego this season, they won 11 of their last 17 overall and have proven to be a tough team the past month.
Following the six-game road trip, San Diego hosts the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series. The Cards lead the NL Central with an 83-58 mark (29-10 since August 1). Then the Padres hit the road again, this time for a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies. Colorado has taken nine of the 16 contests, including a win in four of five games in an August series.
San Diego wraps up their 2022 campaign with nine straight games at home, all three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles is the cream of the crop in the NL, but they could have the one seed wrapped up by then. The White Sox are in a battle for the AL Central title, so they will fight for each game in their series. Not sure Brewers fans can rely on the Giants in the final three games. Maybe they take one out of pride for the rivalry, but their bags will already be at the airport.
So what might a realistic record look like for the Padres?
- 1-1 at Seattle
- 2-2 at Arizona
- 1-2 vs. St. Louis
- 2-1 vs. Colorado
- 1-2 vs. Los Angeles
- 1-2 vs. Chicago
- 2-1 vs. San Francisco
That 10-11 mark would put San Diego at 87-75 on the season. Because the Brewers would lose a tiebreaker to the Padres, Milwaukee needs to finish at 88-74 to nab the last spot. All of this is assuming the Philadelphia Phillies don't collapse, vying for the second Wild Card slot.
As for the Brewers and their final 21 games, to reach 88 wins, the Crew would need a 13-8 to close out 2022. That might be the top end of what they're capable of with their depleted starting rotation. How can they get there?
- It starts Tuesday in St. Louis for a two-game series. Milwaukee would need to split the games to stay on track.
- The Brewers come home to face the New York Yankees and New York Mets for a pair of three-gamers. The minimum goal would be a 3-3 mark between the two east division leaders (I'd bank on two wins over the Yanks and one over the Mets).
- Milwaukee would be 4-4 at this point as they go on their last road trip, a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. A split is ok, but taking three out of four (against a team they should) puts them in a less desperate position.
- Like the Padres, the Brewers end the season with nine consecutive home games. First up is the Cardinals for a two-gamer, a series the Brewers need to split.
- The Miami Marlins come in next for a four-game set. Milwaukee will likely face ace pitcher Sandy Alcantara in one of the games, making even a 3-1 mark challenging. A split of the four games is enough in this scenario.
- That leaves the final series hosting Arizona. The Diamondbacks took three of four from the Brewers earlier this month, so there is no guaranteed series win. That will do if Milwaukee wins the series, based on my "realistic path" to the playoffs.
Nothing laid out above is crazy or out of the question. No sweeps for the Brewers, just winning or splitting most of the series to keep chipping away at the Padres' lead. And for the Padres, nothing out of the ordinary would have to happen, either.
Yes, there is a lot of "hope" in this plan. If the Brewers can't play more consistent ball and make up for their lack of starting pitching in other areas, it will not matter much. If San Diego finds another gear, the Brewers will have done too little, too late. At least there could be some high drama to watch as the season comes to a close - well, regular season at least.
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