With about a month and a half left in the season, the Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in the middle of a playoff race. They are just two games back in the divisional race with seven games still left in the season against the Cubs. They currently hold one of the two available Wildcard spots. Fans shouldn’t panic.
In mid-August the Milwaukee Brewers current position in the standings should seem like a great place to find themselves in. However, with the recent performances over the past two series, many fans are looking for the panic button as they fear another collapse is in the works.
Over a baseball season teams are going to run into injuries, fatigue and poor play. It’s the nature of the beast when teams play 162 games in a season. Up to this point the Milwaukee Brewers are still sitting well in the playoff race.
Where can the Brewers get better?
There are a few things that the Milwaukee Brewers need to improve. One is through the month of August this team has been inconsistent. They can’t seem to get the bats and good pitching performances to line up. This has led to a 5-7 record in August, which most weren’t expecting after a 5-3 road trip out west and a quick two wins in the Rockies series. But this good play was followed up by a 2-4 stretch against the Padres and Braves that included some heartbreaking losses.
A few of these losses can be attributed to poor play from the bullpen as well as some injuries. Taylor Williams was quite reliable the first portion of the season, but before his DL stint he had an ERA of 15.99 in six appearances. We can only hope that those numbers are injury related.
Another blow to the bullpen came when Joakim Soria was placed on the DL with a groin strain and Jacob Barnes was optioned down to Triple-A due to poor play. Fans have to wonder if the injuries and fatigue from the bullpen is from the heavy inning load they faced during the start of the season.
What are the reasons not to panic?
Even through this tough stretch, the Milwaukee Brewers have had some positives that will propel them into the playoffs.
The first is that the injuries and slumps mentioned above aren’t going to last forever. Gamers like Soria and Williams should be available for the final stretch and will add depth and fresh arms to the bullpen. Also, Knebel won’t keep slumping. It’s a long season and he’s going through a difficult stretch. He’s still a solid player with a nasty curve ball and he will get back on track.
Secondly, the Brewers starting rotation has had consistent results all year from Jhoulys Chacin and Junior Guerra with their respective ERAs of 3.91 and 3.40, while being able to remain healthy this season.
Meanwhile, Wade Miley has been coming strong since he came off of the DL with a 2.17 ERA in his last five games. He’s only given up seven earned in 29 innings pitched since his return. Despite what is said, these three pitchers are showing that they have the arm talent to lead the Brewers into the playoffs.
What about the offense?
Also, let’s not forget that the bats are coming alive! Even during that difficult stretch the team is batting .299 over the last week and .272 in the month of August, which would be their best month of the year. In addition, the bottom of the order is perking up as well. Orlando Arcia is batting .318 in his last 22 at bats. Manny Piña is averaging .360 in his previous 25 at bats. The offense is heating up at just the right time to make a run.
Lastly, the Brewers September schedule is very favorable. They have 15 out of 24 games at Miller Park in the final month. They have a season record of 36-24 at home. And of the 24 total games, three are against the Detroit Tigers who find themselves well below .500. While another 11 games are against the fading Pirates, Giants and Nationals. Fans have to wonder how much those teams will have to compete for and if that will affect their performance on the field.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a lot more positives than negatives going for them in this final stretch. The month of August hasn’t gone according to plan thus far, but they have a great opportunity in front of them to make up ground on the Cubs and separate themselves in the Wildcard race. There is just too much talent on this team for them to fade away as they did in 2017.