When you’re a rebuilding team that’s no longer in the playoff hunt in mid-September, it’s hard keeping your fan base engaged through the end of the season. When you couple that with the start of the NFL season, and thus Packer season, it’s pretty much a lost cause in Milwaukee. If the Sunday Cycle is your sole source for Brewers insight for these last four weeks of the MLB season, you’re probably going to know more than the average Wisconsinite. So stick with me, guys-  let’s close out Season Three of the Sunday Cycle in style.

Brewers starting pitching has been top tier recently. 

Per Adam McCalvey, no starting rotation in the MLB over the past 19 games has a lower team ERA than the Brewers, who posted a 2.81 ERA over that span (36 earned runs in 115.1 innings pitched). That is incredibly encouraging. Rest assured, there are a lot of players (particularly pitchers) on this roster that are going to use this final month to try to build some momentum heading into the off season. While the season ending numbers will still likely rank the Brewers’ starters among the worst in the league, a solid September will get them heading in the right direction before the season comes to a close.

With their 63rd win on Thursday, the Brewers will officially NOT be losing 100 games.

At the beginning of the year, these were my expectations: the Brewers would have a couple of players play their way out of Milwaukee, they would make some trades and call up some young players who weren’t quite ready yet, and they would lose 100 games. Given those expectations, it would be selling the Brewers short to say that they didn’t play better than I thought this year- and I’m not the only one thinking this.

Legendary Brewers writer Tom Haudricort tweeted out on Friday night: “A scout told me are no fun to play now because they have players still busting their butts to prove they belong. Not quitting.” I can’t tell you how happy that quote made me.

It’s clear the Brewers organization is still years away from the playoffs, but their play as of late suggests a couple of things: first, their young guys truly understand the importance of winning, learning, and playing hard. This is critically important and I think it’s been made possible by the Brewers strengthening their minor league system. The young guys on the 25-man roster know that there are a couple of highly ranked prospects just waiting for a shot at their starting spots; no spot is guaranteed when your minor league system ranks among the best in the league. So while the Brewers are out of the playoff hunt, they’re not just bending over; they’re playing solid, competitive baseball.

I think this is an incredible testament to the work of manager Craig Counsell and his coaching staff. They spoke often about the need to change the attitude of the clubhouse, about how they were going to figure out who really wanted to be in Milwaukee and who didn’t. It would appear that this team has a lot more fight in them than teams past- and it shows in their solid September play, despite their overall record.

These are very real reasons to remain optimistic, Brewers fans. The Crew took two of three from the best team in the Major Leagues this year, followed by a series split on the road vs. a St. Louis team that is very much in the Wild Card hunt. While we’ve still got a ways to go until this rebuild starts to bear fruit, I’m excited about the progress I’ve seen in such a short amount of time. Let’s hope GM David Stearns continues to find success as he executes his long term plan for the Brewers.