The Milwaukee Brewers pulled into their recent road series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field riding about as high as a team could. Winners of eight straight games, the Crew had just swept three teams: the Rangers, the Twins, and the Padres.
But although they were able to stretch their winning streak to nine games with a win in the series opener, the Brewers' offense fell stagnant while the Cubs scored just enough to take the final two games and win the series.
With Wednesday's loss, the Brewers go into their day off still with a lead in the NL Central, though it has shrunk to three games over the Cubs. Fear not, though, as there is no need to panic and here are a few reasons why.
Here are three reasons why not to panic after the Brewers' series loss to the Cubs.
Reason #1: The Brewers' pitching continued to hold up just fine
Coming into Wednesday, the Cubs were tied for the fifth best offense in the league this year at 5.04 runs per game. And yet, Milwaukee's starting trio of Wade Miley, Corbin Burnes, and Brandon Woodruff, as well as strong performances from the bullpen, held Chicago to just six total runs across the entire series.
Though the Brewers outscored the Cubs in the series, six of their eight total runs came in the first game of the series, hence losing the final two games. But strong pitching (and defense) has been the Crew's bread and butter in 2023 and if this series was any indication, that isn't bound to slow down during the final playoff push in September.
Reason #2: The Brewers ran into two starting pitchers they've traditionally struggled against
While the Brewers' starting pitchers (Burnes and Woodruff) couldn't have lined up more ideally for the final two games of the series, the same could be said for the Cubs and their starters Justin Steele and Kyle Hendricks. In the end, the two Chicago starters came out on top.
The Brewers aren't the only team to have had a tough time against Steele, who is a legitimate NL Cy Young candidate here in 2023. And Hendricks has seen plenty of success over the years against Milwaukee, against whom he had a career 3.51 ERA in 32 starts coming into Wednesday. Good teams need to find ways to beat good pitchers, but it's not like they lost to scrubs in the Cubs series.
Reason #3: The Brewers' schedule is about to lighten up considerably
The Brewers had a tough task in front of themselves coming into the second half of August, facing a gauntlet of first place teams before finishing the month against some more tough competition, all while protecting a division lead. In the end, they will finish the month of August still leading the NL Central, which has to be considered largely a success.
Now, in the most pivotal month of the year, the schedule finally gets easier. Even though the start the month against fellow playoff contenders in the Phillies, the Brewers have the 8th easiest strength of schedule remaining going into September. On top of that, 16 of the Crew's remaining games are at home versus 13 on the road. That's great, considering they have a .584 winning percentage at home compared to .529 away from Milwaukee.
It would have been great if the Brewers could have created some separation between themselves and the Cubs in the division, but alas, that wasn't the case. Still, that's no reason for Brewers fans to panic.