After a gut wrenching 8-7 loss to the Braves on Sunday despite posting 19 hits and drawing four walks, the Brewers had the day off Monday. The team traveled home from Atlanta and will be back on the road for two games against the first place Chicago Cubs followed by a three game series in St Louis.
The Brewers held first place in the National League for the bulk of the first half of the season, but have found themselves stuck in a lull for the last month. Milwaukee has struggled to rediscover the consistency they displayed early on in the year enroute to a 12-11 record since the All-Star break. With 41 games remaining in their season, the Crew will have to right the ship if they want to avoid narrowly missing out on the playoffs after last year’s one game difference in the wildcard race. The Brewers have just nine games left against teams outside of the NL Central, and will play the Cubs eight more times including today’s day-game matchup at Wrigley Field.
Milwaukee and Philadelphia would be the two teams to squeak in to the playoffs as wildcards in the National League right now, but the Dodgers, Rockies, Cardinals, Pirates and Nationals are all still very much in the race. The Brewers have made multiple moves over the past year that have shown they are a team in “win now” mode. The most recent additions of Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop were meant to alleviate issues in the infield and look to be solid moves by GM David Stearns. Yet, eyebrows are starting to raise over the ongoing starter and relief pitching problems. If Milwaukee loses grip of their playoff positioning and fails to at least get in through the wildcard, Stearns may be blamed by some after all of his talking around the trade deadline.
On the bright side for Brewer fans, Milwaukee has the most remaining rest days of any team in the majors (nine) and the ninth weakest remaining schedule (opponents W/L average of .496). With extra time to get their bodies right and what should be a favorable schedule ahead of them, there is no reason for the Crew not to crawl their way out of their recent slump in the near future. Zach Davies has been rehabbing his shoulder injury and is expected back before the end of August while fellow starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson could still possibly return to the mound before the end of the season.
If the bats keep churning out runs and the bullpen gets back to their early season form, Milwaukee will find themselves in a good position to make the playoffs, and even potentially win the National League. While the sky may seem like it is falling lately, the Crew are just a few games away from the top overall spot in the National League. Getting things back on track with the current roster would provide a big boost to the team’s confidence, and getting back two of their best starting pitchers by the end of the season would only catapult Milwaukee further in the right direction. As hard as it may be to withstand right now (especially looking at the similarities to last season), Brewers players, coaches, and fans need to remain calm and stay the course down the backstretch of this rollercoaster of a season.
(Statistics courtesy of Rotoworld.com)