The Stretch Run Is Now for the Milwaukee Brewers
While today’s date of July 21st means that there are over ten weeks left in baseball’s regular season and that division races will not heat up for about another two months, the Milwaukee Brewers’ most important stretch of the summer is starting right now. Over the course of the next five weeks, the Brewers will face the Pirates nine times, the Nationals eight times, the Braves three times, the Padres six times, the Astros six times, the Reds three times, and the Dodgers three times.
Do you know what the similarity between all those teams is, outside of the Dodgers?
As of last night, none of them had a record over .500.
It’s an outstanding chance for the Brewers, who have the easiest schedule of any National League team, to gain ground on the rest of the division and have a solid cushion come September.
Over this span of a month and a week, the Brewers’ lackluster pitching staff will have a chance to dominate against some of the worst offenses in the National League. The best offense they will face is the Atlanta Braves, who rank just seventh in the National League in runs scored.
The Brewers’ offense will need to come around and give the pitching staff extra run support if they want to succeed in this stretch. In that span, they will face four pitching staffs in the top ten in ERA in the National League, but also face the Padres (15th) and the Nationals (16th). Let’s take a look at each of the matchups the Brewers will be taking on and how they can fare.
Pittsburgh Pirates: 41-51
The Brewers lost last night’s game to the Pirates, which ended a drought of over a year that the Bucs had not come out on top. In the remaining eight games, five will be played at PNC Park and the other three will be at Miller Park. I believe the Brewers should be able to take three of five on the road from the struggling Pirates and should be able to sweep one of the worst road teams in baseball at Miller Park. Six out of eight wins is easily doable for a Brewers team that has had the Pirates’ number for quite some time.
Washington Nationals: 26-66
The Brewers will play a pair of four-game series against the worst team in baseball in this span and I do not think it is a stretch to say the Brewers can take seven of these games. There is nothing positive going for this ballclub right now and they do not do anything well. The Brewers will send their top four in the rotation at the Nationals when the two teams meet at Miller Park. Washington has been swept an unbelievable ten times this year and has won a series just six times all year. Seven out of eight wins might sound crazy for the Brewers right now, but it could happen pretty easily.
Atlanta Braves: 47-46
The Braves are playing very well right now and are trying to catch up to the red-hot Phillies in the NL East. Unfortuantely for the Brewers, the Braves will send their three best pitchers to the hill in Miller Park next week in Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, and Javier Vazquez.. Atlanta has been decent on the road this year and they are a team the Brewers have had trouble with this year. I’d like to see two wins here but think the Brewers will come out with just one.
San Diego Padres: 37-56
Had it not been for the Nationals’ historically bad season, the San Diego Padres would be the laughing stock of the National League. They currently sit 22 games out of first place and, despite playing average baseball at home, can not do anything on the road. For the three games at Miller Park, look for the Brewers to come out playing great baseball against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. Four of six games going to the Brewers looks to be a good estimate against a pretty bad Padres team.
Houston Astros: 47-46
The Astros are playing very good baseball right now and are tied with the Brewers in third place as it stands right now. After taking four out of six games in Houston, the Brewers will play the Astros three times at Miller Park and go back to Minute Maid Park again for three. With the ‘Stros playing good ball right now, I could see a split coming in the six games these two teams will play. Houston pitching has been picking it up lately and will keep them in close games.
Cincinnati Reds: 44-48
The three games the Brewers play against the Reds in this span will all come at home, which should bode well for the hometown Brewers. Milwaukee was 4-2 against the Reds at Miller Park and should be able to take two of three from the Reds when they come to town.
Assuming the Brewers are able to take one game from the Dodgers in their three game set, I can see the Brewers going 24-13 in this span, give or take a game. Just because the talent level is down does not mean the Brewers will be able to sit back and relax. They are playing terrible baseball at the moment and will need to pick things up if they want to have a chance. However, when they play their brand of baseball and are on, runs like these are more than capable of happening. 24 wins over this five week span would put the Brewers at 71-59 and likely in first place.
The Cubs will play the Phillies six times, the Dodgers four times, the Rockies four times, and the (hopefully healthy) Mets three times before September. The Cardinals will play the Phillies three times and the Dodgers seven times in that span as well.
The race should be tight because it seems like none of the three teams wants to gain any ground on the other. But the Brewers need to strike now while the competition is not hot because in September, things heat up quickly. In the season’s last month, Milwaukee will play 29 of their last 32 games against teams with a record currently over .500.
If the Brewers are not up at least two games by the end of August, there will be no point in watching in September.