Milwaukee Brewers: How do they compare to other contenders?
The Milwaukee Brewers currently hold the top wild card spot in the National League, but it is a tight race between many teams for those two spots. The Brewers are still trying to win the division, but if they were to win a wild card spot, how would they stack up against the other contenders in a one-game playoff situation?
The NL West is the division to watch down the stretch. They have three teams within 2 1/2 games of each other for the top spot in the division, and the other two are both in contention for the wild card game as well.
Which teams do the Brewers have to worry about in the NL West?
The team on top of the NL West right now is the Colorado Rockies. The Milwaukee Brewers did well against Colorado this season by winning five of the seven games between them. The last time the teams played, the Rockies bullpen was having a miserable stretch, and closer Wade Davis blew another save against the Brewers, the second time he’s done that this season.
The Rockies have a very good offense whether they’re playing in Coors or not. Trevor Story has borderline MVP caliber numbers along with Nolan Arenado doing what Nolan Arenado does. Also, German Marquez has been a very nice surprise from the rotation and has had success against Milwaukee. He would most likely get the start in the wild card game.
What about the Dodgers?
The second place team in the West is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are more importantly two games back of St. Louis for the second wild card spot. They are 2 1/2 games in back of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers narrowly won the season series with the Brewers, 4-3, and all the games they played against each other were right after the All-Star break.
Los Angeles is probably the team that Brewers fans should be most worried about. In a one game situation, they’re most certainly going to face Clayton Kershaw, as well as that new and improved lineup after all the trades. The Dodgers can score a lot of runs, and hit a lot of home runs. Especially if the game is in the hitter friendly Miller Park, the Dodgers powerful offense and the combo of Kershaw and Kenley Jansen off the mound would post the biggest threat to Milwaukee.
Are the Diamondbacks a factor?
Next out of the West would be the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs are one game behind the Dodgers, and have been an ‘under-the-radar’ team all year. They would also be a challenge in the wild card game, as former Brewer and 2018 All-Star Zack Greinke would most likely get the start, even though the Brewers hit three home runs off of him in a game at Miller Park back in May.
The D-Backs have a solid offense led by Paul Goldschmidt who has had a great year despite early season struggles. As well as David Peralta who had a fantastic month of August, and trade acquisition Eduardo Escobar, who many Brewer fans desired. Also, Arizona won the wild card game last season, so they know what it’s like to experience the one game do or die atmosphere and win.
Who else should the Brewers pay attention to?
Getting past the NL West, there are three other teams the Milwaukee Brewers need to keep on the radar. One of those teams in the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are currently a whole 4 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot, but they are 3 1/2 games behind the Braves for the NL East division title. A lot can happen in the last few weeks, and the Braves should not feel safe yet with that lead.
The Milwaukee Brewers won the season series against both of these teams, but they both have young exciting teams with good starting pitching. However, the Brewers have actually had a lot of success against these team’s top arms Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Mike Foltynewicz, and Sean Newcomb. So the Brewers would stack up fairly well against either team, but both would still pose a tough challenge.
What about the NL Central?
Finally, the team that currently holds the second wild card spot, the rival St. Louis Cardinals. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals are dead even at 8-8 on the season series, and they have one more three-game set to play in the second to last series of the season. That series could very well determine who gets the first wild card spot, meaning where the game is played.
The Cardinals have a solid team who has surged in the second half after many wrote them off. They have good, young pitching in the rotation, but who would make the wild card start is not obvious. Their offense is very good however, and can hit the ball out of the ballpark with ease with guys like Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna actually has the most hits of any visiting player at Miller Park this season.
The main advantage the Milwaukee Brewers have on the Cardinals, and all of the other teams, is the bullpen. If Corey Knebel continues his resurgence and keeps pitching well, the Brewers bullpen is well equipped to take over a one game playoff situation. It allows the Brewers to not have to heavily rely on their starter to do well or work deep into the game.
A roster like the Milwaukee Brewers that has a well balanced offense with speed/on-base guys at the top and power in the middle, along with that elite bullpen is really an ideal unit for a one-game playoff. Having a deep starting rotation won’t help in this game, even though it is needed in a regular playoff series.
The Milwaukee Brewers, if they keep that first spot and play the game at Miller Park, will likely be favored to win against any of these teams, but nobody would be surprised if any of the teams beat them. These are all good teams with a lot of talent, and the Brewers have to worry about fighting them off just to make the playoffs first. We will have to wait until October 2nd to see how everything plays out.