The next two series for the Brewers are against the top two teams in the NL Central. Winning them both would go a long way toward earning a playoff bid.
Let’s face it, the 2020 season probably hasn’t gone quite the way the Milwaukee Brewers or their fans had hoped. Not that it’s been a lost season or anything. But with just over two thirds of the season passed, a third-straight playoff appearance isn’t yet within grasp.
At 19-22, the Brewers currently find themselves 2.5 games behind the Cardinals for the second playoff spot in the NL Central and 1.5 games behind the Marlins for the final NL Wild Card spot. With 19 games remaining on Milwaukee’s schedule, there is still time.
But time will eventually run out.
That’s what makes the next two series arguably the most pivotal stretch of Milwakuee’s entire season. With three games against the NL Central-leading Cubs followed by five against the Cardinals, the results of those two series could very well determine the Brewers’ playoff fate.
So far, “Craigtember” hasn’t started off with quite the bang that it traditionally has in the past, nor have the Brewers been able to stack up wins with regularity at any point prior to that. What would lead anyone to believe that the team will be able to all of a sudden flip the switch now?
Wednesday night’s game could hopefully provide a small glimmer of hope in that regard. The Milwaukee bats exploded for 19 runs in their win over the Tigers, 10 more than their highest total in a game this season. All ten batters who came to the plate reached base at least once in the game.
While the pitching has largely held up their end of the bargain, the offense has been plagued all year with inconsistent, or just plain poor, performances by new acquisitions like Avisail Garcia, Eric Sogard, Omar Narvaez, Justin Smoak, and Brock Holt, not to mention long-time Brewer Ryan Braun and former MVP Christian Yelich.
All of those players have the ability to have a track record of solid offensive seasons, but haven’t lived up to that potential in 2020. Wednesday’s game showed what can happen when that potential is unleashed. If a handful of them can keep it up, anything can happen.
Still, the Brewers will have to fight past their top two divisional foes in a homestand that starts on Friday to put themselves in a position to grab a playoff berth. That may seem daunting, but there are reasons why it could be doable for Milwaukee.
The stretch begins with three games against the Cubs. Chicago is 5-5 over their last 10 games, like the Brewers, and lost their last three games to Milwaukee at Wrigley Field last month. Increasing the Crew’s chances is the fact that Brewer killers Yu Darvish (pitched Wednesday) and Jose Quintana (injured) will miss the series.
After the weekend, it’s on to a grueling five games in three days against the Cardinals. The two teams haven’t faced off yet in 2020, on account of St. Louis’s COVID outbreak that cancelled their originally scheduled series in the second week of the season.
That may seem like a daunting task for the Brewers, but it’s nothing compared to what the Cardinals are about to go through. Starting today, St. Louis will play 23 games in 18 days to finish the season with no more days off the rest of the way.
The Redbirds will have played five games over four days before they even begin their matchup with Milwaukee. If the Brewers can pull off a series win over the Cardinals, it could not only improve their standings in the division, but also put a ton of pressure on St. Louis not to run out of gas down the stretch.
If the Brewers want to remain in playoff contention a week from now, the worst-case scenario for the next two series should be a split of the eight games. Even then, that would not leave much time left for the team’s final push to the playoffs.
With time being of the essence for Milwaukee, they really need to aim for two series wins against the Cubs and Cardinals. Doing so would likely mean that their offense is finally performing in the way that is becoming of a playoff-worthy team.
Time is running out on the 2020 season, but the Brewers aren’t dead in the water yet. While the next two series aren’t 100% must-wins, they are pretty darn close.