While the Brewers themselves shouldn't be looking ahead I don't think it will hurt too much for us to look ahead for a moment. August 31st is when playoff rosters are due and while there are some chances to make some changes to that roster it will generally stay pretty set. So what kind of roster will the Brewers submit this year? Here are the locks to make the roster:
Position players (12):
Weeks, Hardy, Braun, Fielder, Hart, Cameron, Kendall, Counsell, Hall, Rivera, Durham, Kapler
Sabathia, Sheets, Parra, Suppan, Bush, Torres, Gagne, Shouse
Ok so 20 locks out of 25 players. That leaves some players on the fence.
Branyan, Nix, Minor leaguer batter
Villanueva, Riske, McClung, Mota, Stetter or some other minor league pitcher
First, the Brewers are carrying twelve pitchers right now but for the playoffs when you only need four starters you definitely can get away with ten pitchers but the Brewers probably will opt for eleven. That brings up some interesting questions namely, who will be the forth starter? Sabathia, Sheets, and Parra appear to have locked up the first three spots leaving Bush and Suppan to battle for the last spot. Bush has definitely out pitched Suppan this year and even more so recently but Soup brings the veteran grit so don't be surprised if Bush is moved to the bullpen, a role he has seen action in this year. With Bush in the pen that leaves at least one reliever who won't be making the roster with Mota being an obvious first choice.
As for the position players assuming Russell is healthy there is no way he doesn't make the roster but his injury does put that at risk. I think Nix is good to go as the Crew will need an extra outfielder and he is already on the roster. That would bring them to fourteen but if Braynan can't go someone else will have to take his place.
The Brewers then would have a lot of different options then and could go one of many ways. First, they could bring up Gamel who is a left handed hitting third baseman which is exactly what Russell brings to the table. They could also go speed/defense and bring up Escobar or call up a third catcher so pinch hitting for Kendall is a little easier on Yost. That could either be Vinny Rottino or Angel Salome but Salome or Gamel would need to be put on the 40 man roster first (though it sure looks like Gamel will be there shortly).
Fortunately for the Brewers most of these decisions can be put off thanks to the K-Rod loophole. That loophole states that if you put a man on the playoff roster who is on the 15 day DL you can then replace him on the roster with anyone on the 40 man roster as of August 31st no matter what position he plays (that part is new) by transferring the player on the 15 day DL to the 60 day DL. So expect the playoff roster handed in on the 31st to look very similar to this:
Positions players (14):
Weeks, Hardy, Braun, Fielder, Hart, Cameron, Kendall, Counsell, Hall, Rivera, Durham, Kapler, Nix, Branyan*
Sabathia, Sheets, Parra, Suppan, Bush, Torres, Gagne, Shouse, Villanueva, Riske, Capuano*
* on 15 day DL
This will give the Brewers the maximum roster flexibility including the option to go with ten pitchers and call up one of the before mentioned position players instead of most likely McClung (though Riske better watch himself). Honestly, this is what I am hoping they will do because there simply is no need for seven in the bullpen with all the off days in the playoffs. Ned will likely be riding his starters hard anyway and a third catcher or a good pinch runner would almost certainly be move valuable.