Series between the Brewers and Cardinals have been relatively even in recent years. But in late September, the advantage has gone to the Crew.
At 27-28, the Brewers still control their playoff destiny with multiple different scenarios that involve them making the postseason. And just like recent years, their path includes a late-season matchup against their divisional foes, the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals are also fighting for their playoff lives at the moment. They currently sit one game over .500 at 27-26 and hold the second playoff spot in the NL Central. But depending on how their final series goes, they could end anywhere from the top of the division to missing the playoffs altogether.
Both teams enter the final weekend-plus coming off of recent series losses. But while Milwaukee’s was against another playoff contender in the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals lost to the much less fearsome Kansas City Royals.
Ever since the Brewers flipped the switch from rebuild to contend in 2017, their season series each year against the Cardinals has been one of the more well-fought ones in the division. Milwaukee won overall season matchups over St. Louis 11-8 in both ’17 and ’18, while the Cardinals finished 10-9 against the Brewers in ’19.
But when the teams have met up in September lately, with both fighting for playoff positioning or a spot in general, it’s been a bit different of a story. The Brewers are the ones who have had the upper hand in the late-season matchups and are hoping history repeats itself in 2020.
No matter how the season series against the Cardinals has gone for the Brewers since 2017, the final series matchup ends up going in Milwaukee’s favor.
Back in 2017, the Brewers came into their final series of the year, at St. Louis, doing all they could to snare the second Wild Card spot. They were able to take two out of three from the Cardinals, but unfortunately the one win St. Louis got, in game 161, was the one that knocked Milwaukee out of the playoffs.
In 2018, the Brewers again rolled into St. Louis, this time with six games to go, hunting for a playoff bid. They would leave town having clinched their first playoff berth since 2011 and use the momentum to sweep their final series as well, setting up a dramatic game 163 with the Chicago Cubs that Milwaukee to earn the title of NL Central champs.
And who can forget last year? The Cards looked like they might break the streak of bad luck and take the rubber match of the final series against the Brewers on September 15th. That was until Ryan Braun broke their hearts with an eighth-inning grand slam that began a seven-game win streak for Milwaukee along with a second straight playoff appearance. St. Louis would go on to miss the playoffs.
Though things haven’t always looked bright in 2020, the Brewers have just as good a chance to repeat history against the Cardinals to finish this season. They took their first five-game set against St. Louis three games to two and have a chance to start their final series off with a bang with an NL Cy Young candidate in Corbin Burnes on the mound for game one.
The Brewers will likely need history to be on their side if they hope to make the playoffs for a third-straight year. Going into Thursday, they sit a game back of both the second NL Central playoff spot as well both Wild Card spots. It’ll probably take a series win to grab any of those bids.
Luckily, late-season series wins against the Cardinals are familiar territory for the Brewers. Let’s hope Milwaukee can add another one to the history books.