Milwaukee Brewers: Which team is the real one?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Domingo Santana
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Domingo Santana /

The Milwaukee Brewers are making their first playoff push since beginning their rebuild midway through the 2015 season. And lately, the team has seen great highs and some rough lows.

To quote the late, great Vince Lombardi, “What the hell’s going on out here?“. This Brewers team has been so frustrating to watch as of late. They have the potential to dominate this division, but squander their easy opportunities.

What’s happened to the Brewers recently?

The Milwaukee Brewers took two of three against the Colorado Rockies, who were occupying the Wild Card spot. Then they lost two of three against the last place San Francisco Giants. But then against the Los Angeles Dodgers they won two of three. And the Dodgers were the hottest team in baseball at the time. That series began the slide that Los Angeles is currently in.

Coming home, they took three of four from the first place Nationals and could’ve easily swept them. But a sweep by the last place Cincinnati Reds put the Brewers five games back of the division. Then they sweep the first place Cubs? They won series against every division leader in the National League in the past month. When they face the last place teams, they struggle. Anyone else confused by this?

Now, after a thorough beatdown by the second-to-last place Pittsburgh Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers sit 2 1/2 games back of the Cubs. They’re sitting in third place a day after they seemed poised to take over the division. They can beat Yu Darvish. They can beat Gio Gonzalez. But they can’t beat Steven Brault and his 5.79 ERA? They can’t beat Robert Stephenson and his 5.15 ERA? They get stymied by Luis Castillo for eight innings? What the hell is going on out here?

What do the numbers say?

Of their seven series against teams below .500 since the All Star Break, they’ve lost five of those series. That includes three sweeps, two of which were four game sweeps. But against teams above .500, they have nine series since the Break. They’ve won or split seven of those series. In fact, the last time the Milwaukee Brewers lost a series against a team above .500 was at the end of July against the Cubs.

They can handle the good teams, but the bad teams trip them up. Those series losses could derail any hope of a playoff appearance. However, the Brewers stand a good chance of winning a playoff series given their success against good teams. The trouble is making it there. To make the playoffs, they have to beat the bad teams just as much as the good ones.

Is consistency that hard to find?

This is the most frustrating aspect. This team hasn’t enjoyed consistent success on offense since the second half began. They’ve had little success in general, but whenever the offense gets going, the momentum never carries over. They can never put together a long winning streak. Look at the Cleveland Indians. 19 wins in a row and going strong. No one’s asking for a 19-game winning streak, but a streak of more than four games would be nice.

Back in mid-August, the Milwaukee Brewers won four straight. The last two against Cincinnati, and a two game sweep of Pittsburgh, followed by a loss to Colorado. Then they win the next two in Colorado… and lose the next game to the Giants. They win two straight against the Dodgers, and lose the next game badly against St. Louis. Then they take four of their next five against the Cardinals and Washington, but then get swept by the Reds.

They take three straight from the Cubs at Wrigley, but then get walloped at home by Pittsburgh. Unbelievable. Manager Craig Counsell is going to be bald soon after pulling out all his hair. Brewers fans will follow soon enough if they keep playing like this.

Is it time to waive the white flag?

This team gives us so much reason believe they can do this. They can rise to the occasion when no one gives them a chance. But when they’re expected to beat somebody, they can’t do it. The Brewers are the ultimate underdog. They relish the chance to beat someone they’re not supposed to, but they struggle when they’re favored.

This team looks undeserving of a playoff spot at times. But at other times, they look like legit World Series contenders. What are they really? Who are the real Milwaukee Brewers? No one can say for certain. But it is certain that we should all watch our blood pressure as the season comes to an end because the Brewers are not making it easy on us.

Getting on a hot streak heading into October is incredibly important for any chance at the World Series. Especially after the loss of Jimmy Nelson, a hot streak at the right time is the only chance the Brewers have of winning it all. And now is the time to get hot.

Next: Who will replace Jimmy Nelson?

Fans had low expectations for the season back in April, but expectations are a lot higher now. A playoff spot is a strong possibility if they can just stay consistent. But this hot and cold style of play they’ve been in won’t get it done. They need to gain momentum and keep it, which is apparently easier said than done.