As the Milwaukee Brewers enter their final twelve games of the season, they find themselves in very good position to make the playoffs.
Now of course Brewers fans would love for them to chase down the division leading Cubs to win the NL Central, but being 2.5 games back with 12 games to go is a tall order. Especially against a team with as much talent and experience as the Cubs have.
However, as it sits now, Milwaukee would be hosting the Wild Card game at Miller Park. In just the matter of a few weeks, the once murky Wild Card race has gained some clarity as the Phillies and Diamondbacks have faded away.
Milwaukee is in a good position to be hosting the Wild Card game, and most likely their opponent will be the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, or the Colorado Rockies.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are currently in the middle of two races. Their priority is winning the NL West where they sit just a half game back of the Rockies. While their other path to the postseason is via the Wild Card where they are tied with the Cardinals for the final spot.
L.A. finds themselves with a favorable schedule to end the season. They will begin at home against the Rockies and Padres, then finish the season on the road against the struggling Diamondbacks and Giants.
On the season series, the Dodgers edged out the Brewers by winning four of the seven games. However two of those games were blow outs in L.A.’s favor, including an 11-2 win at Miller Park and a 21-5 win in L.A.
Of the three potential matchups for the Brewers, this is the last one they will want to see. Facing Clayton Kershaw in a win or go home match would be extremely difficult. Kershaw has been able to put up great numbers once again for the Dodgers. On the year he has an ERA of 2.51 and his opponents are batting just .224 against him.
The Dodgers offense is another component Milwaukee would not want to deal with. There is a lot of talent on this team. They currently lead the NL in runs scored and home runs hit. As we’ve seen in games between L.A. and Milwaukee this year, their offense can get hot at any moment.
Fortunately for the Brewers, I would anticipate the Dodgers winning the NL West and if the Brewers do face them, it will likely be in the later rounds of the playoffs.
St. Louis Cardinals
After a red-hot August from the Cardinals, where they were able to put themselves back into playoff contention, they’ve since come back to reality. Over their last ten games, the Cardinals have record of 4-6, including some tough series losses to the Detroit Tigers and L.A. Dodgers.
Even through their cooldown, the Cardinals still have a chance to earn one of the two Wild Card spots available. They currently trail Milwaukee for the top spot by three games and are tied with the Dodgers for the final spot.
The Cardinals have a difficult stretch of games ahead to end the season, where three of their final four series’ come against teams with winning records. They will finish up the season against the Braves, Giants, Brewers and Cubs.
With three games left in the season series between the Brewers and Cardinals, their current records are 8-8 against each other up to this point. There hasn’t been any home field advantage for either team as the Brewers are 5-5 at Miller Park against the Cardinals and 3-3 at Busch Stadium.
A pro and a con of facing the Cardinals in the Wild Card game is the familiarity between these two clubs. It’s a team that the Brewers know very well and will have the ability to create mismatches. But the same holds true for the Cardinals and they won’t be intimidated coming to Miller Park for a playoff game.
Where the Brewers could take advantage of the Cardinals is their bullpen play. It has been one of the weak spots on the team all year. The Cardinals bullpen has an ERA of 4.37, almost a full point higher than the starting rotation, as well as a WHIP of 1.456 and opponents are batting .260 against them.
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This final series between these two teams could have major implications when it comes to who will be in the playoffs and where the game will be played.
Similar to the Dodgers, the Rockies have their eyes fixed on winning the NL West but could end up being a Wild Card team. As of now, they lead L.A. by half a game in the division and would be 2.5 games back of the Brewers for the top wildcard spot.
The Rockies will have to go through some tough opponents to finish up the season. They will begin their final twelve games against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks on the road and finish at home against the Phillies and the Nationals. All four of their opponents are over .500 and even the Phillies and Nats, who have fallen back in contention are still a tough out.
The Brewers have played quite well against the Rockies this season, taking five out of the seven games between the two teams. Milwaukee has been able to capitalize on Colorado’s inconsistent pitching.
Despite having a talented offense, the Rockies have struggled with their bullpen. They have the second most blown saves in the NL at 27 and the third highest ERA as a pitching staff at 4.45. Now their ERA could be inflated due to playing at Coors Field but Miller Park is hitter friendly as well and mistakes made by the Rockies pitching staff could lead to benefiting the Brewers offense.
Another point to note is how Colorado’s offense is completely different when at home verse on the road. Away from Coors Field, the Rockies are batting just .229 as a team, compared to a whopping .284 at home.
Having the wildcard game at Miller Park would greatly benefit the Brewers if the Rockies are their opponent.
Who does Milwaukee want to face?
Obviously there are still games left to be played and the Milwaukee Brewers need to take care of business, but as it is today, they would be hosting the Wild Card game.
Of the three potential opponents the Dodgers would be the most difficult but as I stated above, I believe they will end up winning the West.
When looking at St. Louis and Colorado, it is a close call but I’d rather see the Brewers face the Rockies. The Cardinals know the Brewers well and are comfortable in Miller Park. Where as the Brewers have played the Rockies well this year and have the potential to take advantage of the Rockies pitching staff and score some runs.
Regardless of who the Milwaukee Brewers play, they will need to be on their “A” game to move on.