The Milwaukee Brewers are currently 2.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot with 16 to play. The Brewers are heading into a critical three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the schedule does not get any easier after that.
Milwaukee is playing their best baseball at the right time and I firmly believe they have what it takes to clinch a Wild Card berth. The Brewers must get through their next three series in order to have a chance at the postseason.
The following are five reasons why Milwaukee will be playing playoff baseball in October:
Ryan Braun will be one of the NL MVP finalists this season and is playing as the heavy favorite to win the award. Braun is also a major reason why the Brewers have been able to bounce back in the second half of the season and legitimately compete for a postseason berth. Braun leads the NL in home runs (40) and is second in runs scored (95), as well as, RBIs (103). The reigning MVP is doing whatever he can to give Milwaukee the best opportunity possible and his knack for the dramatic should serve the Brewers well over the next couple weeks.
Milwaukee has several call-ups who are giving the team a huge boost of confidence in September. Michael Fiers, Wily Peralta, Mark Rogers, Jean Segura, and Jeff Bianchi have all made significant contributions since being called up. Granted, Fiers has been playing since May 29 but his incredible pitching has kept the Brewers’ hopes alive this long. In three starts, Peralta is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 13 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .239 average. Rogers was pitching great before the Brewers elected to shut him down for the season to save his arm. Segura and Bianchi have played outstanding defense at shortstop, while also coming up with clutch hits when Milwaukee needs it most.
The Brewers’ starting rotation has seen an overhaul since the beginning of the season, but the new additions are definitely carrying their own weight. Ace Yovani Gallardo has been sensational since the All-Star break, as he has been one of the top pitchers in all of baseball since the start of the second half. Gallardo is 8-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 12 starts since the middle of July. Fiers and Rogers have combined for 12 wins in 22 starts, and it would have been more if the bullpen did not blow so many saves. Marco Estrada continues to pitch well while Shaun Marcum is trying to find his rhythm since returning from the disabled list. Milwaukee’s starters have already proven they have what it takes to get the job done. Now, they must keep the ball rolling.
The main reason the Brewers have been able to win 20 of their last 26 games is due to their offensive surge. Milwaukee has been known in recent years to be an offensive team that hits the long ball on a consistent basis. Although it appears the Brewers may not be able to produce the same numbers in the past without slugger Prince Fielder, the offense has proved that not to be true as they are at the top of the league in most statistical categories. Milwaukee is No. 1 in runs scored (701), home runs (184), RBIs (668), and slugging percentage (.436). They are also second in stolen bases (135), fourth in doubles (271), and fifth in batting average (.258).
Manager Ron Roenicke has been forced to win games with a terrible bullpen and numerous starters on injured reserve. The Brewers have lost the most one-run games in all of baseball and for the longest time it did not matter who he put in the game in relief, they would surrender runs. Roenicke has stuck with certain players and made the necessary decisions to win ball games. He has gone with the strengths and attempted to hide the weaknesses. Roenicke has a different starting lineup every day, which is something that would ruin most teams, but the Brewers have embraced it and won several games by doing so. If Milwaukee is going to go any further than the regular season, they will need Roenicke’s intelligent managerial skills to lead them.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.