The Milwaukee Brewers suffered yet another October collapse, failing to win a single postseason game and getting eliminated in the first round.
In so many ways did the Brewers come up short in the Wild Card games against Arizona. The offense left numerous runners on base and opportunities to score go by. The pitching staff was not able to lock it down like they had all season. It was odd. It felt odd. The Brewers were looking nothing like themselves. They had the ability to battle back from deficits all season but in the biggest moments, with guys on base, no one could come through with an answer.
Back when the Brewers were looking to wrap up the division, it took them an extra few days. They had a chance to clinch it on a Saturday in Miami. They already clinched a playoff spot, made a toast, and just had to win one game to clinch the division. Craig Counsell said they were going to get that win tomorrow, but apparently that was a lot of pressure on them, and they didn't end up clinching until Tuesday and only because the Cubs lost not because the Brewers won.
The pressure on a seemingly low-pressure moment, was too much.
Sal Frelick's quote on the pressure of the Brewers clinching the division was a sign that this team wasn't mentally built for October.
Here's what Sal Frelick had to say after the Brewers took a couple days to clinch the NL Central:
"I don’t think we played as loose. Myself, personally, I wasn’t having as much fun. There was a lot of pressure. I just think it was such a good learning experience heading into the playoffs when every game is going to be like that."- Sal Frelick
A lot of pressure? There were eight games left in the regular season, they had an eight game division lead. The best the Cubs could do was tie if they win out and the Brewers lose out and the final three games were against the Cubs. Yet, the Brewers were on pace to lose out with a chance to clinch the division and only got out from that potential embarrassment and all that "pressure" after the Cubs lost to Atlanta.
There should've been zero added pressure to clinch the division at that point, but apparently there was a lot of it according to Frelick. He took it as a learning experience heading into the playoffs but the fact that it had to be learned at this point in the season and in the careers of all these players is the actual problem here.
While this Brewers team has a lot of rookies on it, there's also a ton of veteran experience and leadership and this franchise has been to the postseason five times in the last six years. There's no reason for there to be that much pressure on simply winning the NL Central with such a cushy lead.
Frelick has been in high pressure situations before, as have all the rookies. This team has been in higher pressure situations and come through but there's apparently some sort of mental block the Brewers have when the lights shine brightest in October.
To be clear, this series loss is not on Frelick alone. This isn't to place blame on him, but rather that his quote is an insight on this team's mindset not being strong enough as a whole.
The pressure as October inched closer ticked up the tiniest bit and this team cracked. They were not mentally strong enough to handle pressure. It's Milwaukee, it's a small market, the pressure and attention of the baseball world is rarely on them. As soon as the attention is on them, they've crumbled. They crumbled in 2019, 2020, 2021, and now 2023.
If the Brewers couldn't handle the pressure of clinching the division with eight games to go and as big of a cushion you could ask for, they were not going to be able to handle the pressure of an elimination game in October.