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Rest days may play to the advantage of the Milwaukee Brewers

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As the final two months of the season begin, the Brewers have a notable advantage in one area: Rest days

Colorado Rockies v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

As the month of August begins, the Brewers have just 51 games left to play in the regular season. They have played 111 games so far this season. It’s been a bit of a brutal first 23 of the season, as they Brewers have had several long stretches of games, including two stretches of 17+ in a row. While that has really tested the team, it also sets up an interesting scenario for the second half of the season, where the Brewers will get plenty of rest.

Following the games on August 1, here are where the contenders in the National League stand for their schedule:

NL Rest Days

Team Games Remaining Rest Days Longest Streak Double Headers
Team Games Remaining Rest Days Longest Streak Double Headers
Brewers 51 9 9* 0
Diamondbacks 53 7 14 0
Giants 53 7 13 0
Dodgers 53 7 13* 0
Pirates 53 7 10 0
Cardinals 54 6 13 0
Phillies 55 6 17 1
Cubs 55 5 23 0
Rockies 55 5 13* 0
Nationals 55 6 14 1
Braves 58 4 22 2
Streaks listed with a * are the longest remaining full streak after this one, as those teams are currently in their longest streak (coincidentally, 17 games for all of them).

The Brewers have several advantages when looking at this list. First of all, they have the most remaining off days with nine remaining, which is two higher than the next team on that list. Compare that to some of the other contenders, such as the Braves, who only have 4 off days the rest of the season, and the Cubs and Rockies, who have 5 off days each. An extra 4 days off is big, as that allows their starters to rest a little more. When September hits, that won’t matter as much because of expanded rosters, but at a minimum, it could be more games where the Brewers don’t have to deploy a bench bat as a starter to give one of their regular player’s a rest.

In addition, this allows them to have to play less consecutive games to finish the season. Starting next week, the Brewers have at least one scheduled off day every week the rest of the way. As a result, the maximum number of games they have to play in a row is nine games, and they are the only contender in the NL that doesn’t have a streak of 10+ games after their current one. That means additional time to rest the bullpen. The club can deploy starting pitchers with extra rest, or even skip starts from the fifth starting pitcher here and there to get the stronger starting pitchers more starts. It’s flexibility that other teams will not have.

On the other side, some of the other contenders will have some long stretches to deal with. Other than the Pirates, every other contender has a streak of 13+ games in a row remaining. In addition, there are three teams who still have to play a streak of 17+ in a row. The Braves will play 22 games in 20 days later this season. Part of the reason for that is a rainout to make up against the Cubs, who also had to use an off day for that and will play 23 in a row. Meanwhile, the Phillies have it a little better with only 17 in a row, but those 17 will be their last 17 games of the season, and that could potentially hurt them in a playoff push over the last few weeks.

With gaps like this between the teams with the most rest and the least rest, it does bring up questions of why there’s such a difference. There’s a few facts to remember here, though. First of all, it’s not as if the Brewers didn’t have to deal with these streaks at all this season. They played 21 in 20 days before the All-Star Break, and are in the middle of 17 in a row right now. It’s just a matter of the timing of the streaks. The Brewers dealt with it early, other teams will deal with it later.

It’s also very hard to avoid scheduling streaks like this at all during the season. Though scheduling did ease up by adding four more days to the season (pushing the number of non All-Star Break off days from 16 to 20), it still means that, in a 26 12 week season, there are going to be weeks where there will not be an off-day. When those weeks happen consecutively, long streaks of games in a row happen. It’s an unavoidable part of scheduling, and it’s just a reality to deal with in the game.

Of course, even with optimal scheduling, that doesn’t mean teams can avoid streaks like this. Weather also becomes a factor as the season goes on. For teams who play outdoors, there’s at least a few games each season where weather forces a game to be rescheduled. Sometimes that results in double-headers, which end up being long days but save off days. However, sometimes they have to be scheduled on a mutual off-day. When that happens, teams like the Cubs and Braves end up with an extra long stretch in their schedule, and there’s nothing that can be done to avoid that.

This is where the Brewers playing at Miller Park, with a roof to block those elements, can help the Brewers in their scheduling. By having a guaranteed half of their games in a domed stadium, it cuts the chances of rainouts in half by itself. They also still get the advantage of playing in other parks with roofs. Add in games against the Diamondbacks and the Marlins, who also have roofs over their stadiums, and that results in only 75 games that could be affected by weather. Most other teams have to deal with 140+ games that could be affected by weather (depending on division and opponents, though in the NL, each of the three divisions has one team with a stadium with a roof). When games get rescheduled, they get moved to later in the year. That means, in August and September, there’s a higher chance of a make-up game happening.

All of this put together is why the Brewers will get a schedule with the most rest built into it to finish out this season. It doesn’t mean that the schedule will be easier. though. With eleven teams in striking distance of a playoff spot, there’s still a lot that could happen this year. The Brewers still need to play well down the stretch as they fight to get back into the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They will need to take advantage of anything they can to stay ahead, and a schedule with more scheduled off days built into it is one advantage they can use.