During Craig Counsell’s tenure as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, the team’s skipper has had a reputation of having his team perform extraordinarily well during the month of September. The best examples of this come from the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
A 19-7 September record helped the 2018 Brewers catch the Chicago Cubs to finish the season in a tie atop the division. They eventually would go on to win a tiebreaking game 163 in order to win the NL Central title. During the 2019 season, after losing Christian Yelich to a patella fracture, a 20-7 September run resulted in a Wild Card berth.
In both of these seasons, the Crew was at least five games out from a playoff spot at some point in September. Per this piece from SB Nation, the Brewers’ odds to win the NL Central in 2018 as of September 2nd of that year were just 4.9% and their odds to make the playoffs in 2019 as of September 5th were at 5.6%.
Entering the final few days of August in 2022, the Brewers currently have a 40.3% chance to make the playoffs per Baseball Reference. Going into games on August 29th, they trail the St. Louis Cardinals in the division by six games and the San Diego Padres by 1.5 games for the third and final Wild Card spot.
This year’s expanded playoff format certainly plays a role in why the Brewers’ chances to make their franchise record fifth consecutive postseason remain so high. That being said, they are still going to need a strong month of September in order to secure a Wild Card spot or catch the Cardinals in the division.
Can the 2022 Milwaukee Brewers make some Craigtember magic happen again in 2022?
Given the Brewers’ struggles this August, a winning record during the final month of the season that results in a playoff berth would qualify as Craigtember magic. This team has not been firing on all cylinders post-trade deadline and definitely needs something good to happen in order to gain some positive momentum.
Unlike the 2018 and 2019 years of Craigtember, in 2022, September call ups are limited to just two spots. There are some good candidates to be called up in Esteury Ruiz, Sal Frelick, Brice Turang, and Ethan Small who could provide the spark that this team needs. Outfield prospect and former first round pick in the 2020 draft Garrett Mitchell was promoted last weekend.
The Brewers will also need their star players to perform well. Offensively, Christian Yelich (0-for-26) and Luis Urias (0-for-21) went through slumps in August. Additionally, Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Renfroe, Kolten Wong, and Willy Adames are all below 100 wRC+ this month.
On the pitching side, they will need the staff to keep them in every game. While that will be a team effort, we have seen individual pitchers in previous Craigtember years such as Jhoulys Chacín, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, Jordan Lyles, and others pitch at an entirely different level during the final month of the season.
Ultimately, whether or not the magic of Craigtember can happen again in 2022 will depend a lot on the players. Yes, Counsell needs to play matchups a bit better and ride the hot bat more often, such as Keston Hiura as of late, but others will need to step up as well.
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It has been a very down month of August for the Brewers, but hopefully they can turn things around in Craigtember.