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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

The Brewers hope to secure a second-place finish in the NL Central — and possibly a wildcard spot — during the season’s final weekend

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Even the biggest optimist couldn't have predicted this for the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers. With just one weekend left in the season, the Brewers are still in the playoff hunt.

The odds aren't great, but the fact that they're here -- despite the humble preseason predictions, despite the offense becoming unreliable in the second half, despite the nightmare stretch in late July and early August in which they went 7-18 and fell back to .500 -- is pretty incredible in itself. There are three games left and the Brewers are still playing meaningful baseball games.

Adding to the drama, the only thing we know about the Brewers' pitching plans this weekend is that Chase Anderson will start the opener. After that, it's up in the air, with both Zach Davies and Brandon Woodruff a possibility to start on short rest depending on how the race shakes out and what's needed -- if the Brewers lose the opener and the Rockies win, the postseason dream is over and it wouldn't make sense to push Davies and Woodruff.

Still, the Brewers can't win all 3 games at once, so they'll be hoping to get through tonight and go from there.

Friday, 7:15 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Chase Anderson vs. John Gant

The 24-year-old Gant will be making his second start of the year for the Cardinals, and his 9th career start overall. After coming to St. Louis from Atlanta in last winter's Jaime Garcia trade, Gant has put up a 3.65 ERA in 6 big league games this year, despite an 8:7 K:BB ratio. In 18 Triple-A starts this year, he put up a 3.83 ERA with a much more appealing 99:25 K:BB ratio in 103.1 innings. He made a 3-inning start in his last big league outing, working 3 innings against the Pirates and allowing 1 run on 3 hits.

Saturday, 3:15 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - TBA vs. Luke Weaver

Weaver has turned in a very good rookie season to this point, solidifying the Cardinals' rotation while Adam Wainwright's elbow acts up again. In 12 appearances (9 of them starts), Weaver has posted a 3.23 ERA and a 132 ERA+ -- higher than any Brewers starter not named Chase Anderson. He's struck out 68 and only walked 13 in 55.2 innings, posting some big individual strikeout games -- including his last start against the Brewers on August 29th, when he struck out 10 Brewers in 5.2 innings, allowing just 2 runs despite 8 hits. In his only other start against the Brewers this year, he struck out 8 while allowing 2 runs in 6.1 innings on August 2nd.

Sunday, 2:15 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - TBA vs. Carlos Martinez

This will be Martinez's 5th start against the Brewers in 2017, putting him up there with Gerrit Cole this year in the "will the Brewers ever miss this guy in a series?" rankings. Unlike Cole, though, Milwaukee has had some success against Martinez, scoring 15 runs (11 earned) off of him in 23 innings. Much of that damage was done in his last outing, when he got hit around Miller Park for 6 runs (3 earned) on 10 hits in 5.2 innings on August 30th. Martinez has allowed more runs than normal for him this year -- his 3.64 ERA is the highest of his short starting career to this point -- but at only age 25 despite 5 years in the majors, he's struck out 217 batters already this year and will come into his last start with a 3.06 K/BB rate.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference