The Milwaukee Brewers have been playing some rough baseball
Since the Brewers clinched a postseason spot on September 18th, Milwaukee has stumbled to a 4-10 record.
The games have meant absolutely nothing to the Brew Crew, especially after they clinched the division, so the competitive motivation has not mattered in the same way it has to the Cardinals and Dodgers (nine of those ten losses came against them).
Since clinching the division, the value manager Craig Counsell has placed on this stretch has been on the health of his players. Thus, starters have had tighter leashes, regular position players are starting less, and relievers who probably will not pitch at all during the postseason have seen multiple innings.
While the players themselves have expressed “trying” in these games, it’s clear, the plan for the coaching staff has been to keep players as fresh and healthy as possible before the postseason begins.
“The Brewers should be playing better!”
While the rest has been there, the record has not.
This has led many fans on social media to express their frustration with the teams recent play. Many believe by playing poorly now, it will equate to poor play in October. Of the same vein, playing well in September will mean October success.
We may get to see how that argument holds up: while the Brewers are 1-5 in their last six, their future division series opponent, the Atlanta Braves, are 5-1 and riding the high of recently clinching their division.
Both teams moving in different directions record-wise are set to clash this Friday at American Family Field. Should we be worried about our Cream City Nine? Have we lost our mojo while the Braves are hitting the gas at the right time?
Does momentum carry over into the postseason?
For the group that believes going into the postseason hot matters, they may point to the 2007 Colorado Rockies who earned their first and only NL pennant by winning 14 of their last 15 regular season games to force a game 163 wild card matchup. After securing the 9-8 victory of the San Diego Padres, they proceeded to sweep the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks before losing to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. It was certainly an amazing run, and it seemed like the Rockies lost some momentum in the break before playing in the world series.
For the group who would argue that this narrative holds no validity, they may point to an example that came 10 years later. The 2017 Cleveland Indians had one of the best stretches of winning in baseball history. Near the end of August, the Indians began a 22 game winning streak that gave them the second best streak in major league history. They went into October with a 26-4 record clearly with the momentum trending their way. Unfortunately, they would lose to the New York Yankees in the division series in five games.
So two teams went into postseason play on fire…one won the pennant, the other could not get out of the first round. What do we make of this? (Again, there are more examples to draw from but for brevity’s sake…)
Curious myself, I decided to ask someone with an inside mind on the game of baseball.
Bernie Pleskoff is a former pro scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. He’s a must follow on twitter for his analysis and views of the game today. He has noted several times how well he thinks the Brewers are as a team because of their pitching.
I figured he was someone who could weigh in on the debate from a Brewers’ standpoint:
Only if a guy is hurt. I think the postseason is an entity unto itself. An entirely different season. I am not concerned about @Brewers any more than I would be about any other team that has had ups and downs. That's very normal. Are they healthy? Mostly. https://t.co/uQeUGE8cdr
— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) October 3, 2021
This is certainly only one man’s opinion but at least it is someone who can give a view from a baseball scouting perspective. There have been other pieces posted by baseball analytical sites like Fangraphs among others who have taken a deeper dive into this topic. While I am content with a baseball scout, I understand why others would want to keep looking.
In the end….
I’m in the camp that says because there will be a four day break between the last day of the regular season and the first game of postseason, this is enough time for both the Brewers and Braves to have a reset of sorts. Thus, the winner of this series will not be determined by how they went into the postseason, but how well they played in the five game set.
Beginning Friday, we’ll wait and see.
Until then…we could also listen to CC himself:
Craig Counsell: "Let's not complain about a week where we had baseball games where we already knew we were going to the playoffs. I guess you guys can if you want, I just don't understand it."
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 3, 2021
Thanks for reading!
For more Brewers coverage, follow @wisportsheroics & myself @WordOfThe_Weiss!
Numbers are courtesy of Major League Baseball and Baseball Reference.