By Pete Schwichtenberg @schwick26_pete on August 21, 2014
The Milwaukee Brewers are in the middle of their best season in the history of the franchise. They have owned the best record in the division since early April and are close to their third playoff trip since 1982. Here are five concerns as they eye October.
In 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen was unhittable. They had Francisco Rodriguez setting up a stellar John Axford. This year, players like Zach Duke and Will Smith have exceeded all expectations, but with no clear cut roles, any late-inning mistake could prove costly.
Besides a four-game series against the Miami Marlins, the Brewers entire month of September is filled with National League Central foes. With seven games against St. Louis and nine more against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, a winning streak could bury teams while a losing streak could put them on the outside looking in.
Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers have been unstoppable while filling in for the injured Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza, but with only five men in the rotation, one looks to be on his way to the bullpen by early September. Too much pitching is never a bad thing, but making the right decision on who goes to the bullpen is one of the most difficult decisions the team must make.
Francisco Rodriguez has been one of the best closers in the league this season. But when he has been hit, he has been crushed. This has been an All-Star worthy season, and he needs to continue pitching at that level until season's end.
In 2011, Ryan Braun was the best player in all of baseball. This season his numbers have been down as a nagging thumb injury has hampered his ability to consistently pull the baseball. When rested, he often is able to return to form, but in the heat of a pennant race, he will not have much time to sit out. Almost every big moment in years' past has come off of Braun's bat, and they need a healthy Braun to help them get to October and own it.
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