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Milwaukee Brewers: Potential Season Deciding Stretch

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 04: Fans pose outside outfield Miller Park before Game One of the National League Division Series between the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers on October 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 04: Fans pose outside outfield Miller Park before Game One of the National League Division Series between the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers on October 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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The Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a 12-game run that will likely decide the fate of their season.

It’s make or break time for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Up until this point in the season, the Brewers have stayed within a punchers shot of the National League Playoffs. Despite some rough runs of form, particularly in parts of June through the beginning of July, the Brewers have largely kept themselves to within two to three games of the NL Wild Card, and the NL Central’s top spot.

What makes this stretch important?

This 12-game stretch that the Milwaukee Brewers began last night will likely be decisive for their season. With just 37 games left, they’re running out of time to make up the ground they’d need to make up if they’re going to make it to the post-season in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-82.

Milwaukee will enter play tonight at three games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central division. The Brewers have two games remaining in St. Louis this week. Then, they play the Cardinals again in a three-game set at Miller Park early next week.

At a minimum, the Brewers will likely need to go .500 in these six games if they’re going to keep themselves alive in the NL Central race. Anything less, and the Cardinals will be primed to run away from the Brewers in the Divisional race.

A 2-4 record over these two series, for example, could put St. Louis at least four games clear of Milwaukee in the NL Central with 29 games left, assuming the teams match each other’s result in their weekend series. That would, essentially, put the Milwaukee Brewers in the a position where they would need to have lightning strike again in the finals weeks of the season, like it did last September, for them to win the division.

It would also mean that they’ve lost the ability to potentially control their own destiny. The Brewers need to remain within four games of Chicago, and within three of St. Louis heading in September. The reason? They play both teams that many times in the final month of the season. Fall further behind, and a sweep may not be enough to make up the ground they need to in order to get into first place. They’d then be relying on outside help to get them into the playoffs.

Looking beyond the Cardinals, though, the Brewers also have two other crucial series in this 12 game stretch.

This weekend, the Brewers play the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park in a three game set. Arizona is one of several teams within a handful of games from being a wild card team. The Diamondbacks have been one of the biggest underachieving teams, relative to their run differential, in all of baseball. They could be primed for a September run if everything finally clicks.

The Brewers then end this 12 game stretch with a three game series in Chicago against the Cubs. If the season ended today, Chicago would be be the team in the second wild card spot. They have a two game lead over the Mets and the Phillies, and a 2 1/2 game lead over Milwaukee for the second wild card spot. That’s essentially the gap they got themselves by taking four out of six from the Brewers a few weeks ago.

What happens if the Brewers struggle?

Time is running out. If the Brewers sputter through this stretch, they could find themselves just about out of the playoff race by the time we get to September, especially since they’re playing their direct competition for those spots right now. Every loss against St. Louis and Chicago is a game that they’re guaranteed to fall further back from those teams.

Making up games is one thing. Having to leap frog at least two or three teams to get into the playoffs complicates maters even further, especially when you don’t play two of those teams again in the case of the Wild Card race (Phillies and Mets).

Recent history also suggests that the Milwaukee Brewers will need to improve on their record by quite a bit if they’re going to be in a position to make the post-season.

Since 2009, only three division winners have failed to win at least 90 games (Texas Rangers 2015, Detroit Tigers 2012, Minnesota Twins 2009). The first two won 88 games, while the latter won 87. Milwaukee would need to go at least nine games over .500 over the remainder of the season to get to 87 wins.

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It will also take a similar amount of wins to make the wild card if recent history is any guide. The Minnesota Twins in 2017 still needed to win 85 games to make the playoffs. That was the worst record that any team has made the wild card with in the past decade. To get there, the Brewers would have to go at least five games over .500 over their final 37 games.

While the Milwaukee Brewers have produced some great moments this year thanks to players like Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas, their season likely hangs in the balance in these 12 games. We’ll see if they’re up to the task.

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