With just two weeks remaining in the 2017 MLB regular season, the Brewers are clinging to life support in their surprising hunt for October baseball. It’s not that the Brewers have been playing poorly – they haven’t been. They won two of three in their series against Pittsburgh at Miller Park before being gifted a surprise three game #ontheroadathome series against the Marlins, a series that they were also able to take two out of three games in. 4-2 is a solid week of baseball, but not when the teams you need to gain ground against go 6-0 (Cubs) and 4-3 (Rockies).
As it stands right now, the Brewers are 2.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot, and 4 games out of the NL Central. The Brewers are starting to run out of time, and their margin for error at this point is slim to none. Let’s break down their odds in each of the postseason scenarios.
The Race for the NL Central
Current Standings: Cubs: 83-66, Brewers: 79-70 (4 GB), Cardinals: 77-72 (6 GB)
The Cubs travel to Tampa Bay this week for a quick two-game series against Tampa Bay, who are all but out of the crowded AL Wild Card race and not playing for much at this point in the season. The Brewers, meanwhile, will be battling the Pirates in a three games series at PNC Park. The Brewers will need to, at a minimum, maintain their position relative to the Cubs before the two teams meet at Miller Park for a four game series that will likely define the Brewers 2017 season. It’s unrealistic to think that the Brewers have a shot at sweeping all four games. Taking 3 of 4, however, would put them in a position where they would be 1.5 – 2.5 games back of the Cubs with a week of baseball to play. Not an ideal scenario for the Brewers, by any means, but we’ve seen bigger leads than that disappear in the span of a week.
After their four game set at Miller Park, the Cubs will head to St. Louis to play the Cardinals for four games and then return home to Wrigley for their last three against the Reds. That four game series against the Cardinals could also be key. For that reason, I’ll be actively cheering for St. Louis to stay relevant in their playoff race over the next week as they take on the Reds and the Pirates. I would love nothing more than having the Brewers vs. the Cardinals on the final weekend of the season with the NL Central on the line, but the Cubs are on fire right now, and that scenario is getting less likely by the day.
My prediction? Cubs take 2 of 4 at Miller Park next week and all but clinch the Central.
The Race for the Final Wild Card
Current Standings: Rockies (82-68), Brewers (79-70, 2.5 GB), Cardinals (77-72, 4.5 GB)
The Brewers got a gift this afternoon as the Rockies blew a late 3-0 lead against the Padres in a lengthy rain-delayed affair in Denver. That left the Brewers just 2.5 games out of the final NL Wild Card spot. Whoever wins this race will head to Arizona for a one-game playoff, with the winner to face the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, they don’t have an opportunity to control their own destiny in this senario like they do vs. the Cubs. Brewers fans will be forced to become fans of “whoever is playing the Rockies” over the next two weeks as we wait and see how things shake up. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the Rockies have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way out. They’ll head on the road to play the last place Giants (58-93) and the Padres (66-83) before closing the season at home against Miami (69-80) and the Dodgers (96-52). I want to get excited about the fact that the Rockies will have to play the Dodgers in a three game series to close out the season, but the Dodgers have clinched absolutely everything, and will likely not be throwing out a full strength lineup with the postseason right around the corner.
The Brewers have played one less game than the Rockies, so tomorrow’s game can trim their deficit in the Wild Card to just two. No doubt, this is the race that I believe the Brewers have a chance to come out on top, but they’re going to have to play damn near perfect over the next two weeks to do it.
Prediction: Brewers sweep the Pirates, win 3-4 from the Cubs, and are 1 game back of the Rockies entering play next Monday. Brewers TIE the Rockies in the Wild Card Standings, forcing a one-game playoff to get into the one-game playoff. For the record, that game would be played in Colorado on Monday, October 2nd, due to the Rockies 4-3 record against the Brewers this year.