Once again, the Brewers have themselves another critical series against a division opponent with a chance to bury them in the standings. They mostly took care of business against the Cardinals, winning two of three. Now they’ll have to do the same with the Reds.
This will be the sixth and final series for the Milwaukee Brewers against the Cincinnati Reds in 2021. In the previous 16 games, the teams both have eight wins and eight losses. These next three games will determine who wins the season series.
But more importantly, these three games will largely determine if the Reds have a chance at the NL Central crown this year or if the Brewers can be on cruise control the rest of the way.
Entering this three game series, the Brewers hold a 7.5 game lead over the Reds in the NL Central. If the Brewers win all three games, they will have a 10.5 game lead with just 34 games left to play. That’s a nearly insurmountable amount of ground to make up for Cincinnati with no more games left against Milwaukee.
If the Brewers win two of the three games, they’ll be up 8.5 games over the Reds, another very tough amount of ground to make up.
However, if the Reds win two of three, they’ll be just 6.5 games back, which is certainly doable in the amount of time left. The Brewers chased down the Cubs in 2018 in less time despite being back that same distance.
If the dreaded Reds sweep happens, Cincinnati will sit just 4.5 games behind the Brew Crew, and then it becomes more of a sprint to the finish as the Brewers will have to make sure they can hold off Cincinnati. That might cause them to expend more energy in the regular season to win the division than they would like to.
The Brewers certainly don’t want the Reds to hang around in the division race and get any sort of ideas that they can end up catching Milwaukee. If they can get that division lead up to 8.5 or even 10.5 games, they can essentially be on cruise control the rest of the way.
That would allow the Brewers to focus on lining up their rotation the way they want for the postseason, ensure everyone is healthy, and save their energy to make sure they have enough left in the tank to get them through the end of the World Series. Craig Counsell can manage the workload of his staff to keep them fresh without worry about losing the lead they have on the Reds.
This is a chance to pull away from the Reds. They’ve already pulled away from the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates. Now if they can put the Reds far enough in the rearview mirror, they can hit that cruise control and then they just make sure they don’t fly off the road and into a ditch. It’s that simple.