On Monday against the Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers completed an amazing September by clinching the NL Central crown when, just a month ago, many thought it was out of reach.
The Milwaukee Brewers entered the month of September five games back of the rival Chicago Cubs. All while the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals were fast approaching the Brewers for the top Wildcard spot. But Milwaukee was heating up at just the right time.
How did Milwaukee do it?
The Milwaukee Brewers had six critical games left against the Cubs and they were able to take advantage of those opportunities. Milwaukee won each of the final two series against Chicago, taking four of the final six games in the season series and at that point, winning seven of their last ten when facing the Cubs.
The Brewers great play wasn’t just against Chicago, but it was also against the remainder of their schedule. Milwaukee was able to win eight of their nine September series, including ten of the last eleven dating back to August.
This led to the Brewers finishing September with a NL best 19-7 record. When the pressure was truly on, they were able to win the final seven games they played. Which forced a tie breaker game on October first against the Cubs.
Taking advantage of the schedule
After going through a difficult stretch in July that consisted of 21 games in 20 days leading up to the All-Star break, which was then followed up by another 17 games in 17 days, the Milwaukee Brewers reaped the rewards by having a favorable schedule for the month of September. And like any good team does, the Brewers took advantage.
Of Milwaukee’s nine series in September, six of them would be played against teams not in playoff contention. This included the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers, all teams that are well below the .500 mark.
In addition to their opponents on the schedule, Milwaukee also had every Thursday off in September. This was crucial to keeping the bullpen fresh, specifically for Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress. All three of which are vital to the Brewers success.
Milwaukee was also able to have 15 of their 26 games at Miller Park, where the Brewers posted the most wins at home in the NL with an overall record of 51-30.
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Total team effort
On offense, the Brewer bats performed quite well in the final month. As a team, Milwaukee collectively had a slash line of .250/.343./.443 and an OPS of .786. But where the Brewers really separated themselves from other teams, was their ability to produce runs. The Milwaukee Brewers were able to average 5.54 runs per game, which was good for second best in the NL during September.
On the mound, the Brewers pitching staff was equally dominant. The Milwaukee pitchers allowed just 2.9 runs per game and had an MLB-best ERA of just 2.77 over the last month of the season. The Brewers staff also gave up the fewest home runs in the NL with only 17, this helped to eliminate many potential big innings from their opponents. And they had the lowest WHIP in the NL at an impressive 1.03, which helped keep runners off the bases.
Overall from top to bottom, this Brewers team dominated the month of September.
MVP performance from Yelich
As much as this incredible comeback was a team effort, one player in particular always seemed to be in the middle of the Brewer rallies, and that was Christian Yelich.
From his walk-off base hit against the Cubs to his ninth inning, game sealing home run against the Cardinals, no moment seemed to big for Yelich.
Over September, Yelich had an amazing slash line of .370/.508/.804 with an OPS of 1.313. He also added 10 home runs was able to steal seven bases out of the eight attempts he made.
Christian Yelich was able to wrap up his MVP season by having one of the more impressive September performances in recent memory.
This will be a September to remember for the Brewers and their fans. Whether it was on offense or the pitching staff, just about everyone contributed to the Central Division Championship.