Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Brewers will not stop winning

My readers will notice that I haven't posted anything for awhile, and the reason for that is I've been busy. Work, family, and fantasy football prep have been very time-consuming, and despite the Brewers playing better, nothing really stood out to me about the team that was least not enough to pull me away from my other commitments. I have been planning a Marco Estrada piece, something that I'll probably have up this weekend. But this can no longer be ignored. Tonight's win and subsequent sweep over the Braves brings them over .500 for the first time since the second week of the 2012 season. The team has won 18 of it's last 23 games, including 17 of 19 at home. They are leaving skid marks on their opponents, and despite everything that's happened to this team, they are now in the thick of the NL wild-card race. I'll repeat that - THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS ARE IN A PLAYOFF RACE.

Setting aside the likelihood they'll win a wild card spot (more on that later), the fact that they've been playing well at all is remarkable. They lost both their starting shortstop and first baseman for the season. The starting catcher missed two months. Their pitching rotation has been demolished by injuries (Shaun Marcum, Chris Narveson - remember him?), a trade (team ace Zack Greinke), and horrific terribleness (now-jettisoned Randy Wolf), yet has been better since the start of the year with out-of-nowhere strike-throwers in Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers and nearly-forgotten prospects in Mark Rogers (who was just shut down for the year) and Wily Peralta (Rogers' replacement). The last three of that group have defied logic by putting up better numbers in the majors than they did in the minors, and paired with the bullpen bouncing back, have made run-scoring difficult for opponents. The offense has also been awesome, but considering the talent in the lineup, that's nowhere near as surprising as the effectiveness of the pitching staff. And while the bullpen's turnaround has been dramatic, like the offense there is a lot of talent there, and I don't think there are many people who honestly thought they would be horrible all year long.

But despite how well they've played, I'm still skeptical of their playoff chances. Besides the fact they remain three games behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot, they're also behind the Pirates and Dodgers while having the same record as the also-streaking Phillies (and are also only a game up on the Diamondbacks). And while all three teams in from of the Brewers have played poorly recently, all it takes is one of those teams getting hot to end the Brewers' chances. Time is running out; there are only 19 games left for the Brewers, including a daunting 10-game road trip that is more likely to break than make their wild-card bid.

So do I think they'll make it? No. But they're playing extremely well and have made things interesting again, which considering how things looked after the trade deadline, is more than anyone could have asked for. It's no longer a chore to watch them, and any lead they gain once again feels safe (kind of). And while I may not think they've got much of a chance to make the playoffs, they're fun as hell to watch right now and I wouldn't mind a bit if they prove me wrong.

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