After a heartbreaking loss to finish the series against the Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers still find themselves three and a half games back in the division and one game back in the Wild Card.
The Milwaukee Brewers had a golden opportunity to gain ground in both playoff races but were unable to do so. The Cubs lost for the first time in seven games. And the Rockies lost as well giving the Crew a chance to tie the Wild Card and move to 2.5 back in the division.
Even in a four game series with Chicago, coming back from three and a half games will be extremely more difficult and the Brewers just made it harder on themselves. Now, even if they win three of the four games, they will still be one and a half games back. It will be hard to make up that ground with two series to go and both teams hot.
As it stands currently, the Brewers have a much better chance at the second wild card spot than they do the division. But this series will determine which spot the Milwaukee Brewers go for in the final week of the season. A series sweep will put Milwaukee in first by a half a game. In that case, it’s basically a horse race to the finish line. A loss by either team devastating to their cause.
It seems less than likely that Anthony Swarzak and Corey Knebel will be available for the first game of this Cubs series. Given that they pitched every night in Pittsburgh and pitched more than one inning in appearances they probably are tired. Hopefully the Brewers can build up to a big enough lead the first night.
Pitching-wise, the Cubs will have Jake Arrieta coming off the DL to pitch against Zach Davies. Now, Davies is known to get a lot of run support this year. And with Arrieta just coming back from the DL, perhaps he’s not quite up to full speed and the Brewers can hit him hard. A big margin of victory is helpful not only to the confidence of the team and fans, but to the bullpen with a lot of big time pitchers needing some rest.
Davies needs to eat innings in this game. But he has a 6.05 ERA at home this year. That’s not exactly good. That’s not even mediocre, it’s just straight up bad. But the Brewers need Davies to pull through for just one night. Limiting the Cubs to three runs or less over at least six innings would be a job well done on Davies part.
On Friday, it will be John Lackey against Brandon Woodruff. The young Brewer is basically getting a baptism by fire this year. And is effectively the team’s third best starter with Nelson out for the season. It’s the classic veteran vs. rookie match-up and Milwaukee have will be on national television on ESPN.
In another national broadcast on Saturday, Kyle Hendricks will go against Brent Suter. Suter will likely not go past five innings. He’s had a lot of trouble with the third time through a lineup and Craig Counsell won’t want to risk a loss because he left the soft-tossing Suter in there too long. It’s unclear if this will be another bullpen by committee day but it’s as good a candidate as any.
Sunday will be a matchup for the aces. Jose Quintana will be going for the Cubs while Chase Anderson goes for the Crew. This game is practically guaranteed to get your blood pressure up and you on the edge of your seat. It’s the final game of the series and it’s best on best for the division title. If the Milwaukee Brewers can somehow win those first three games, and it’s very possible that they do, all eyes around baseball will be on this game.
The Brewers are attracting the national spotlight now that they’re refusing to go away in the playoff hunt. But this team lacks playoff experience. They’re all so young and inexperienced, none of the starting pitchers for the Brewers have ever been in the playoffs. Chase Anderson hasn’t, Davies hasn’t, Woodruff and Suter certainly haven’t. The only ones with real playoff experience on this team are Ryan Braun, Matt Garza, Neil Walker, and Eric Sogard.
The Milwaukee Brewers need to win three of four to even consider a chance for the division title. A sweep would put the Brewers in the lead and in control of their own destiny. A series split or loss, means the Wild Card is the only hope they have for October. And even then, the Rockies need to continue to lose so the Crew doesn’t lose ground in any losses with the Cubs.
The 2017 season has been a long road for the Milwaukee Brewers but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will all be worth it if they can gain ground. The pitching match-ups will be somewhat favorable. Sunday is going to be a fairly even match-up but the Brewers lucked out in not facing Jon Lester this entire season.
Sweeping the Cubs earlier this month was certainly a pleasant surprise especially coming after a sweep by the Cincinnati Reds. But can they win all seven games against the Cubs this month? That would certainly be an amazing feat. The Brewers have played extremely well against good teams lately but not as well against bad teams. That Pirates series was close all the way through.
This series will be difficult. The Cubs were probably caught off guard and figured the Crew were done for heading into that last series. But the smack in the mouth the Milwaukee Brewers gave to them woke up the baby bears.
They went on a seven game winning streak. They know we’re here and they know we have the ability to take their crown and provide the ultimate embarrassment. A rebuilding team taking down the reigning World Series champion, a team many dubbed the beginning of a dynasty.
They know we can take it, and they know we want it. Expect a lot more fight from the Cubs this time around. The games are at Miller Park now and Brewers fans need to fill the seats. There are still tickets available and Brewers fans need to fill the house. Don’t let a bunch of bandwagon Cubs fans fill our stadium with cheers for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
This is our city and our team. We want this division title and damnit we’re going to take it. The Cubs may think they’re all hot stuff because they won their first World Series in 108 years but the Brew Crew is here and we’re ready for a fight.
This is the biggest series the Brewers have played since 2011. The young kids that make up the team now may just be too young to know to be nervous for these games. And that may be a good thing for them. It remains to be seen whether the lack of experience will help or hurt the Brewers’ chances, but it seems right now, the team is getting hot at exactly the right time.