Brewers Must Bury Their Rival Cardinals’ Slim Playoff Hopes This Week
By David Gasper
The Brewers and Cardinals are beginning a very important three game series on Tuesday. The Cardinals came come back to life or the Brewers can keep them buried and out of the way.
It’s been a while since Milwaukee played St. Louis, last taking on the Redbirds in the middle of May. The two teams will play this week, and then have three more series together in the month of September. It’s a good opportunity to bury the Cardinals in the standings.
Of late, the Cardinals have been surging. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 games and have seen their playoff odds increase from just over 1% to now 6.3%, per Fangraphs. Also, the team in the second and final Wild Card spot, the San Diego Padres, has been struggling, allowing teams like the Reds and Cardinals to climb back up the standings and potentially make the postseason.
While St. Louis has momentum, so do the Brewers. Milwaukee is 7-3 in their last 10 games and maintain a 10 game lead over the Cardinals in the division. The Brewers are 3-3 against the Cardinals so far this season.
This series gives the Milwaukee Brewers an opportunity to push the Cardinals back down the standings and potentially out of the Wild Card race.
Being 10 games back, it’s very difficult to imagine the Cardinals being able to push enough to take the division, and their best path to a playoff spot is the Wild Card, where they currently sit just four games back. They will have to battle it out with the Reds and Padres for that second WC spot, and the Phillies aren’t too far behind.
But a series win or even a series sweep here, and the Brewers can break the Cardinals momentum, push them further down the standings, and drastically reduce St. Louis’ already slim playoff hopes. They’ve fought so hard over the last few weeks and the Cardinals have only gotten up to a 6% chance of playing October baseball. To do all that work and then fall in a three game set against a division rival and see those chances drop back down would be demoralizing.
For the Brewers, they would continue to push a heated rival to the brink of elimination, break their positive momentum, and remove a previous postseason nuisance (1982, 2011) from concern.
Craig Counsell is setting his team up in the best way he can to make this possible. All three of the Crew’s aces will be pitching in this series. Corbin Burnes starts the first game and will be followed by Freddy Peralta and then Brandon Woodruff.
Counsell is going for the throat, and he won’t let up. He was on that 2011 team. He’s tired of seeing the Cardinals in the postseason, too.
This is a much different Brewers team than the one that faced the Cardinals earlier this season.
The Cardinals have not seen Willy Adames in a Brewers uniform yet. He hadn’t arrived yet the last time these two teams played. They have not seen Rowdy Tellez, they have not seen Eduardo Escobar. The last time these two teams played, the Brewers had Keston Hiura and Travis Shaw hitting sub-.200 on the corner infield spots.
Things have changed drastically with this Brewers lineup since then. Milwaukee has been one of the top offensive teams in the league over the last month or two, and the addition of Adames has played a major part in that.
Adames will get his first taste of the Cardinals rivalry, and he’s going to bring a ridiculous amount of energy to it, as usual.
There are four series remaining against St. Louis, including the three game set this week. This gives the Brewers ample opportunity to bury the Cardinals, step on their throat, and not let them get any oxygen into their playoff hopes.
Don’t play around and wait until late September to do it. Break their spirits now.
Counsell will bring out his best three starters, and the bullpen is getting to full strength at the same time. This is a major opportunity.