The Brewers wild card elimination number is 2. That means if the Brewers lose today and the Giants and Pirates both win tonight, the season is mathematically over. Basically, if we want the Brewers playing in October we have to hope they win out and the Giants and/or Pirates don't win more than 1 game the rest of the way.
One cannot truly know anything. We could all be hallucinating and insane and therefore unable to trust our sense. That's an extreme and operating under that assumption, while philosophically valid, is untenable because then what's the point of discussing anything. I prefer to operate under the assumption that we can know what we can prove. But that still confuses people.
I know this desk in front of me is real. I can see it. I can touch it. If I rap my knuckles upon it I can hear. I can sort of smell it and if I really wanted to I could taste. I know it's there and I know it's real. However, when I leave this room and I leave this house, I can't really know it doesn't blip out of existence. I think it doesn't. I believe it doesn't. When I come back it's always there, but I can't prove it doesn't blip out of existence. So do I really know that it doesn't? No, but the empirical evidence suggests it doesn't.
I don't know the Brewers season is over. But I now believe it is. This is something one couldn't really say a few weeks ago or even just a week ago and expect to be taken seriously. The Brewers didn't have very many games separating them and the second wild card and they still got to played the meaningful teams. Now they're 5 games out and have to hope one of the Pirates/Giants lose 5 of their next 6 while the Brewers win out. That seems pretty impossible.
With respect to the Brewers winning out at least, there is some hope. The Reds suck more than most Brewers fans right now believe the Brewers suck. There's a chance they even fall behind the Cubs who are only 3.5 games back of them.
As I mentioned the last time the Brewers faced the Reds their offense if pretty weak. Devin Mesoraco (149 wRC+) is their best offensive player and since he's a catcher he isn't guaranteed to play every day. So far he's been in 110 games. Todd Frazier (120) has put together a very good season for the Reds. After that the only player above 100 wRC+ is Kristopher Negron (107). He's only a role player and it's very likely that 107 wRC+ is him playing above his head if his minor league numbers are any indication.
The Reds bullpen is Aroldis Champan. Seriously, the guy is nuts. He missed a large portion of the season and he's still accumulated a 2.5 fWAR. I choose to ignore WAR for relievers because the sample size is so small, even for an entire season, but 2.5 fWAR is pretty darned impressive. After Cueto is nothing overpowering. It's not full of incompetent relievers or anything, but no one that really screams high leverage.
Tuesday, September 23rd - 6:10 pm CT: Mike Fiers vs Johnny Cueto
This is, on paper, the last tough pitching match-up of the season. Johnny Cueto is several magnitudes better than any pitcher the Brewers are set to face in their final 5 games. He strikes out 25.3% of batters faced which is impressive. He has only allowed a .198 opponent batting average which is even more impressive. The Brewers are probably going to have a hard time with him.
Of note for the Brewers: Mike Fiers has been awesome since getting the call up to fill in for the injured Matt Garza. I'm glad to see his successful season play out the way it has and with the Reds offense being what it is, I see no reason to expect his success to end in Cincinnati. That's good to because the Brewers will need Fiers to out battle Cueto.
Wednesday, September 24th - 6:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Daniel Corcino
If I didn't outright say it in the last Reds series preview, I alluded to the fact that Daniel Corcino kind of sucks. That didn't stop him from holding the Brewers to 2 runs in 6 innings. I couldn't believe it then and I don't believe it'll happen again. The Brewers offense's true talent level is not as bad as it's actual performance over the last 30 or so days. They should, on paper, crush this guy.
Of note for the Brewers: Welcome to the last 5 games of the season. We are now in "lasts" territory. This is the last start of the 2014 season for Kyle Lohse. He pitched beautifully in St. Louis (finally getting that chip off his shoulder) allowing only 1 run in 7.1 innings. The Reds offense is pretty miserable so Lohse has every chance for a similar outing.
Thursday, September 25th - 11:35 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs David Holmberg
If I didn't outright say it in the last Reds series preview, I alluded to the fact that David Holmberg kind of sucks (to be fair he's probably closer to average level of potential than Corcino, but still not a fully realized pitcher). That didn't stop him from holding the Brewers to 1 run in 6 innings. I couldn't believe it then and I don't believe it'll happen again. The Brewers offense's true talent level is not as bad as it's actual performance over the last 30 or so days. They should, on paper, crush this guy.
Of note for the Brewers: This will be Yovani Gallardo's last start. He too pitched a beautiful game in his previous outing, holding the potent Pirates offense to zero runs in 7 innings. It would be great to see him go out on a high note again.
The Reds suck this year and the Brewers have been disappointing. The Brewers are the better team though and they have three solid starters going. The Reds have one. The Brewers have a strong advantage, on paper. I feel pretty confident we'll see the Brewers secure at least a .500 season in Cincinnati. In fact, I feel strongly that they'll secure a winning season in Cincinnati. A sweep is asking a lot against any team, but asking for one against a team starting Johnny Cueto is probably asking too much. Still, with Mike Fiers on the mound it feels possible. So who really knows?
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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs