Aug 15, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds (7) and right fielder Ryan Braun (8) celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time since 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers are holding off the rest of the National League Central division at this point in the season. In that magical campaign, the Brewers held an eight and one-half game margin over Saint Louis in late August en route to their first divisional crown since the 1982 Harvey’s Wallbangers grabbed the American League East title on the way to their first World Series appearance.
In the last 33 years, the Brewers have been runners-up only three times. In other words, the dog days of August and September rarely hold any meaning for us Brewers fans, as we put away the jerseys and bring out the Green & Gold of our beloved Packers a couple weeks before Labor Day.
Until this year.
Although the Brewers’ up-and-down season has been frustrating at times, the overall body of work has been pretty impressive. At their current pace, the Brewers will finish the season with a record of 91-71. Under current baseball playoff rules, that mark would have reached the playoffs each of the last nine years. So there is hope after all.
Matt Garza is supposed to be coming off the 15-day DL soon and if he can return to mid-season form, the Brewers rotation will be as good as any in baseball. The bullpen has been suspect at times, but the optimist in me says that a pennant race will make them strong.
On the hitting side, Jonathan Lucroy is on pace to hit 54 two-baggers, which would bypass the 2004 all-time Brewers mark of Lyle Overbay by one. Carlos Gomez has an outside chance of reaching the 30-30 mark (30 home runs, 30 steals). On the downside, Scooter Gennett‘s OPS is better than Ryan Braun‘s (809-804). Braun needs to pick up the pace in order for Milwaukee to have a realistic chance to move beyond the first round of the playoffs.
If the rotation of Garza, Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, and either Jimmy Nelson or Marco Estrada can pitch like they did the first six weeks of the season, the Brewers have a great chance of moving on beyond the regular season.
The bullpen also needs to figure it out. They were great the first quarter of the season, but have been up-and-down since then. Whether it was due to tired arms or injury, the relievers need to step up and gut it out on their way to a playoff push. Can they do it? Only time will tell.
Yes, this is an exciting time to be a Brewers fan.