Milwaukee Brewers: Is the NL Central already lost?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 07: Manger Craig Counsell
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 07: Manger Craig Counsell /
Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers /

The Milwaukee Brewers have been chasing the Chicago Cubs for over a month. The lead has gone from only one game to as many as 3.5. The division lead currently sits at two. Can the Brewers actually catch the Cubs, or are they simply delaying the inevitable?

The calendar is about to flip to September and the Milwaukee Brewers are in a legitimate pennant race. Most pundits and electronic prediction systems picked the Brew Crew to finish closer to the bottom of the standings than the top. However, new heroes have stepped up almost every month to keep the Brewers at or near the top of the standings. From Eric Thames in April to Keon Broxton‘s August, the Milwaukee Brewers success has been a true team effort. Can they continue to surprise everyone and earn the division crown?

What Needs To Happen For The Brewers?

Well, winning helps? The Milwaukee Brewers need to continue to rack up W’s any way they can. The schedule is much kinder to the Brewers than August. They get six games against both the Reds and the Pirates. There is also a three-game set with a Marlins.

They also have seven of the biggest games of the season against the Chicago Cubs. Whether the Milwaukee Brewers make the playoffs or not likely hinges on those seven games. They need to play them as if they were playoff games.

It may not feel like it, but the Brewers have the second-best pitching staff in the National League in August. Their 3.56 team ERA is only bested by the Los Angeles Dodgers and their 3.13 ERA. That needs to continue into September.

The good news is that the Brewers are getting healthy. Stephen Vogt and Chase Anderson are back in the fold. The only key player on the DL for the team right now is Brent Suter and he’s nearing a return.

The Brewers have done well to manage the injuries they’ve had, and give key contributors rest when they can. When manager Craig Counsell was forced to juggle the lineup and the rotation, he kept the team from falling out of the race. He’s also maximized hot streaks from players like Eric Thames and Eric Sogard. Counsell has been a huge reason why the Brewers are in the mix for the NL title. His sound judgment needs to continue for the team to reach the post season.

What’s Going On With The Cubs?

Despite their deadline acquisitions, the Chicago Cubs pitching staff has not improved as they had hoped. Through August 27th, the Cubs have a 4.62 team ERA. Only four teams are worse. The problem for the Brewers is that the Cubs played nine games against two of them in August.

Their bullpen woes have continued and their rotation is still beaten up. They have three relievers with a sub-4.00 ERA. Jon Lester is on the shelf. Jose Quintana and John Lackey had a rough month.

The problem for the Milwaukee Brewers is that the Chicago Cubs offense has kicked it into high gear. They have the second best offense in the National League in August. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are carrying the team. Will it continue? If they want to make the playoffs, it needs to.

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The seven games the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs will play in August will decide the division. The team that comes in healthiest and best prepared will win. As of right now, the Brewers are healthier, and they’ve been better prepared to succeed. The division isn’t lost or won just yet. There are a lot of big outs, big innings, and big games. Even if the Cubs lead swells a little, the Brewers can still make up ground.