When the Trade Deadline passed on August 2nd, it seemed quite clear to many that the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t improve their roster. Still, it was a first place team and the rest of the roster still seemed solid, so surely they could at least make the postseason, right? Right?
Shortly after the Josh Hader trade was completed, the Brewers put out a statement explaining that sometimes moves like this are necessary for the long-term contention ability of the organization and that this trade didn’t compromise their expectations and desire to win today.
However, “not compromising” and “improving” are two different things. It was clear then that the move didn’t represent an improvement on this roster, and now it’s become quite clear that the trade actually did compromise their ability to win today. But they didn’t mention their ability to win in their statement, just their expectation and desire to win, which is not the same thing as ability.
The Brewers continue to get in their own way of their chances to make a 5th straight postseason after another series loss.
When the Hader trade happened and the front office failed to add another impact player, the Brewers were sitting three games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central race. They had a 80.7% chance to win the division, per Fangraphs, and a 90.4% chance to make the postseason.
As of September 7th, the Brewers sit 9.5 games behind the Cardinals in the division and Fangraphs gives them a 0.8% chance to win it and just a 25% chance to make the postseason at all.
Their schedule hasn’t even been that difficult. They lost three of four to the Arizona Diamondbacks, lost two of three to the Colorado Rockies, lost four of six to the Pirates, split with the Cubs, and lost two of three to the Reds. These are sub-.500 teams they should easily be beating up on, and they simply cannot do it.
Pile Lorenzo Cain’s comments on how the front office has destroyed the clubhouse’s chemistry on top of Eric Lauer‘s criticisms a few weeks ago and the sheer shock the players showed initially after the Hader trade, and you have a team that cannot move in the right direction.
The Brewers simply can’t get out of their own way.
The Padres and Phillies have given Milwaukee plenty of chances to gain ground in the Wild Card chase, and they can’t do it. The Cardinals have been hot, and even if the Brewers have been playing well they may have overtaken the Crew anyways. But to lose 12.5 games in the division standings in a month and to fall 3.5 games back in the Wild Card in an absurd collapse for what should be a talented team.
Milwaukee’s bullpen has performed poorly. Their implosion against the Rockies may have been the moral nail in the coffin for the season. The rotation has been good, but nowhere near as dominant as last season. The offense has been consistently inconsistent. They rely on hitting home runs to score way too much and if the homers dry up, the whole offense dries up.
The Brewers are stumbling to the finish line, and it’s because they tripped themselves up. It doesn’t matter if tripping them was inadvertent or not at this point. Now the players have a difficult time trusting that management is going to back them up and give them the resources they need to win.
No matter what, the division hopes are gone. Wave the white flag on the NL Central, that’s over. Their only hope is the Wild Card, and if they’re going to do so, they need to go on a run and soon. But they can’t go on that run if they keep tripping over their own feet.
Perhaps returning home to Milwaukee will help. A large chunk of their final games of the regular season are at home and they do play much better at home rather than on the road. They’ll need that home cooking to crawl back into this.