Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't Look Now...

...but the objects in the Brewers rear view mirror really are getting too close for comfort. Not only has their lead over the Cardinals shrunk to six games from a high of 10.5, but they have fallen behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second best record (the Phillies are running away with the best record). If the Brewers end up with the the third best record in the National League, then they would have to go on the road to Philadelphia for the first two games of the NLDS - just like 2008.

Does having the second best record matter. Check out this story on ESPN.

The Brewers are a better team than they were in 2008 - much better pitching - but so are the Phillies. Despite the Brewers improved starting pitchers, the Phillies still had the best of the pitching matchups in the four game series concluding today at Miller Park.

Game one on Thursday: Chris Narveson vs. Cole Hamels. Advantage Phillies. Duh.
Game two on Friday: Shaun Marcum vs. Roy Halladay. Advantage Phillies. Duh.
Game three on Saturday: Randy Wolf vs. Cliff Lee. Advantage Phillies. Duh.
Game four on Sunday: Yovani Gallardo vs. Vance Worley. Advantage Brewers.

Fortunately, the matchups won't go this way in the NLDS because the Brewers would probably start Zach Greinke in game one. 

Playoff scenario against the Phillies:

Game one: Zach Greinke vs. Roy Halladay. Advantage Phillies.
Game two: Shaun Marcum vs. Cliff Lee Advantage Phillies. 
Game three: Yovani Gallardo vs. Cole Hamels. Advantage Phillies. 

So, still advantage Phillies, but the Brewers could certainly win any of those matchups. Nonetheless, their hitting has struggled. They could really use Rickie Weeks bat - he pinch hit on Saturday.

But, will we even have to worry about a first round matchup? A week ago, sitting fat and sassy, the Brewers seemed to have the NL Central title in the bag. Today they enter play with only a six game lead over the Red Birds.  The magic number is still 11.

The Cards have 17 games left. Fortunately, four of those games are against the Phillies, but 12 of the 17, including the last 9, are against NL bottom feeders: Pittsburgh, Mets, Cubs, and Astros. After on an off day this Thursday, the Cards play everyday for the last 13 games.

The Brewers only have 15 games left thanks to a couple off days. After today's finale versus the Phillies, Milwaukee closes out with 2 at home versus Colorado, 3 games at Cincinnati and 3 games at Wrigley. They come home to finish the season with apiece against the Marlins and Pirates. Not exactly Murderers Row

A six games lead on September 11 is pretty hard to overcome and the Brewers are finishing the last really tough stretch of the season, but remember the '64 Phillies! On September 20 of that season, the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead. They then proceeded to pull off the most massive choke job in sports history. Manager Gen Mauch panicked and started Jim Bunning (the crazy former US Senator from Kentucky) and Chris Short almost every other day! Now those were the days of four-man rotations, but a two-man rotation?! Guess what? It didn't work. Guess who slipped by them for the NL title? Yep, the St. Louis Cardinals.


But maybe it's better to play the Phillies in a short series? The way baseball sets up the playoffs with a short series (best of five) in round one followed by best of 7 in the next two rounds is counter-intuitive. The fewer times an inferior team has to beat a superior team, the more likely they are to pull off the upset.

I don't know what the historical outcomes show or how big the home field advantage is in a short series. I do know I would prefer to avoid the Phillies as long as possible and hope that somebody else pulls the upset in the NLDS.

Feel free to sort through the facts and report back!


  1. Your negative cardinal energy is not helping, please leave the state.

  2. Actually, I switched my primary loyalty to the Brewers a few years ago - unless the Cardinals get in the World Series, of course.

  3. !#$^%$#%O* This is all YOUR FAULT.
    This whole STRING should be deleted.
    Stupid Cards. Stupid Brewers. 5.5 games