Since we talked last, the Milwaukee Brewers have played seven games to (almost) end their regular season. They won them all, thereby catching the Chicago Cubs on the second to last day of the season for first place in the NL Central and holding serve on the final Sunday to tie for the crown. The tie means a playoff game for the NL Central title Monday in Chicago at Wrigley (noon start), and while it looks cloudy it also looks dry with a high of 75. Glad weather won’t play a role in the outcome (crosses fingers).
The Brewers took the final game of the Pittsburgh series last Sunday to win that one, then swept the Cards three straight in St. Louis, and took all three at Miller Park against Detroit. Over the seven games Milwaukee outscored their opponents 56-25. That’s eight runs a game, people. I’m thinking that eight runs a game the rest of the way will make a World Championship quite possible.
TOP HITTING STORY: Surprise! It’s Christian Yelich! Yeli’s stats for the seven games look like he was playing slo pitch softball. Seriously. In 32 plate appearances, he had 12 runs scored and 16 RBIs. He had a double, a triple, and five homers. He was so hot that he was walked 12 times in those 33 appearances (and hit by a pitch on the elbow in the finale in Pittsburgh), and his slash line (batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage) was .400/.636/1.300. For those who don’t want to do math, his OPS (on base plus slugging) was 1.936. These are absurd numbers. For today’s (Sunday’s) game, the Tigers pitched around him with walks twice. He scored both times. Whatcha gonna do?
Honorable Mention: The Brewers’ most recent MVP, prior to this season, was Ryan Braun. To celebrate Yeli’s ridiculously good close to the season, Braunie had a pretty nice slash of his own - .364/.440/1.136, OPS of 1.576. He scored eight times himself, and drove in ten, with two doubles and five homers. Those numbers are good enough to be Player of the Week for the National League; Ryan couldn’t even win it on his own team.
Runs produced are runs scored plus runs batted in minus homers (‘cause otherwise the homers get counted twice, which seems fair but isn’t good math). Braun and Yelich combined to produce 36 of the Brewers 56 runs. Jeepers. That’s FIVE RUNS A GAME!
TOP PITCHING STORY: Corey Knebel has been absolutely insanely good since he took his two week hiatus in August. Over this past stretch, he worked in five of the seven games, giving Milwaukee 5.1 innings. He gave up three hits and walked a guy, but didn’t allow a run, and struck out 14. He got two guys out that he didn’t strike out. Oh, plus he earned a win and a save. Josh Hader has struggled recently, but the Brewers can be very selective where they use him with Knebel so dominant.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Jeffress was dominant as well, and notched a save for the playoff clincher in St. Louis. That was one of three saves in three appearances, and he had three innings, one hit, no runs, no walks, and five strikeouts. Again, absurdly good numbers to be considered second best for the league, let alone on the team.
IMHO: The Brewers might lose Monday in Chicago, and then in the Wild Card game. But I don’t think they will. I think they’ll be the NL Central champs, and have home field throughout a deep run in the National League portion of the playoffs, and stand a good chance to make the World Series. The reasons for this are legion, and I’m not going into them here.
But if they DO lose their next two, it won’t diminish the phenomenal finishing kick that has taken them to the brink of being called the best Brewer team in history. Sure, not making a run would be really disappointing. It would sting, and many would say “same old Brewers”.
But they aren’t the same old Brewers. They were a very good team all season, and with the deadline (and beyond) acquisitions down the stretch they have become more than that. They are a feared team. The good news is that there isn’t any reason they can’t duplicate that next season, no matter what happens over the next few days. Or next month!
BTW, I got to go to Sunday’s 11-0 win over the Tigers to force the game Monday, and if you weren’t there you might not know that when Yelich was removed from left field (by Hernan Perez) with two out in the eighth inning so that the crowd could give him an ovation, many players on the field removed their gloves and joined in. That may have been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: I need to encourage more comments on Sunday Sundries. I just figure that everyone agrees with everything I say, and nods and goes on to the next article. (Yes, Virginia, there are articles.) Thanks for that! BeerCity was kind enough to contribute last week (but even he must have agreed with everything I said...):
That Detroit series seems like a trap. Coming out of that with a sweep would be HUGE momentum for a WC game.
It’s rough seeing Yelich get plugged in the ribs and finishing the season stiffer than myself looking at playoff tickets. While it’s nothing serious he’ll be tender for a few games and that’s never good- especially with an important cardinals series starting up today.
In classic BCB fashion, I feel obligated to include: yOu CaNt SaY cReAm CiTy NiNe!
Let’s Go Crew!!!
Yeli was fine, as was The Cream City Nine. (that’s poetry, my friends).
Off to Wrigley Monday, then hopefully a few days off before they welcome the winner of the Cubs vs Dodger/Rockies game to Miller Park to begin the march through October.
Enjoy it, folks. As much as I think the Brewers will be good for a while, nothing is guaranteed in baseball. Ask the Nationals. See you next Sunday, win or lose, rain or shine.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference