The Brewers won their sixth game in a row last night when they topped the Phillies 6-2 to complete a sweep. That made me curious: How long had it been since the Brewers last had a 6 game win streak? The answer was not exactly what I had hoped.
The Brewers won nine games in a row last April. It started with a win against the Cardinals in the third game of their series, then continued with sweeps of the Giants and Cubs and finished with the team taking the first two games of a series against the Padres. So, a big winning streak, in April, involving a sweep of the reigning World Series champions. Sounds familiar. The disappointing part: The Brewers finished last year 74-88.
But, hey, two winning streaks are not created equal. Last year's and this year's have their differences. The biggest of those may be the location. The Brewers went on the road to Fenway and Citizens Bank, two intimidating ballparks for different reasons. Last year, six of the team's nine wins were enjoyed in the friendly confines of Miller Park. To go on the road and take two sweeps is more impressive.
The other difference is the quality of the opponents. The Phillies this year are a little similar to the Brewers in that they are a team that expects to make a playoff push, though few analysts saw them as having much of a chance. They are still a pretty good team, though. The Brewers got a bit lucky that Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett were not available for this series, and Chase Utley missed the first two games with the flu. But Milwaukee did beat Cliff Lee and the rest of the Phillies are certainly better than the Cubs were last year.
Similarly, the Red Sox are a better reigning World Series champ than the Giants were last season. Last year, the Giants had one good pitcher in Madison Bumgarner to go with a mediocre offense. That led to an 86-loss season. The Red Sox won't lose 86 games this year. It's possible they may lose a little bit from last year, but they are still a top contender for the playoffs this season.
Of course, it's not just the quality of the opponents: The Brewers are a much-improved team from 2013. Last year, the Brewers were starting Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez at the same time! No Aramis Ramirez, who was hurt during their streak. And, sure, Yuni was going through a bit of a hot stretch at the time, but that's matched by Mark Reynolds this year. You still have a drop from a healthy A-Ram to Gonzalez. I'll also take Khris Davis over Norichika Aoki (as would the Brewers, judging by their moves in the offseason).
The pitching is better this year, as well. Last year it was Lohse-Gallardo-Peralta-Burgos-Estrada starting games during the streak (I forgot Hiram Burgos started a game last year, too). This year, Matt Garza takes the place of Burgos and Peralta has a year of experience and is looking much better.
Anyway, a six game or nine game streak is impressive, either way. But because I may have spoiled the mood a little bit last night, I figured I would take the opportunity to show why two mirroring streaks do not necessarily mean the Brewers will end up the same as last year.
Besides all that, comparing two winning streaks of less than 10 games doesn't really tell us much. The Brewers are a better team this year than last year and should finish with a better record. Just because a similar run happened last season doesn't mean the rest of the season will go the same way; that would be silly thinking. The Brewers are 7-2 and that's pretty awesome!