Two games up with six to play, and three of them against the team that’s chasing them.
That’s the type of scenario that makes things tense for fans, but the playoffs effectively are starting early for the Milwaukee Brewers. And, in the (in)famous words of Ned Yost, the math is still on the Brewers’ side.
The Brewers have a chance to clinch the top wildcard spot - and possibly knock the Cardinals out of the second wildcard altogether - with a sweep. Winning 2 of 3 would put the Brewers in a very good position heading into the final weekend, but winning even just one game will ensure they still leave town with a lead in the Wild Card race, with the Brewers finishing the year against the lowly Detroit Tigers while the Cardinals go to play the Cubs.
It’s sort of fitting it all comes to this - both teams have been evenly matched this year, with the season series being split at 8 a piece coming into today. Both teams have won 2 series against each other, and split the one 4-game series they played this year. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Monday - 7:15 p.m. CDT
TBA vs. Jack Flaherty
Tuesday - 7:15 p.m. CDT
Gio Gonzalez vs. Austin Gomber
Wednesday - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. John Gant
The Brewers have announced that they’ll pull Chase Anderson from his scheduled start against Flaherty in the opener and go with a Johnny Wholestaff approach instead. It’s an interesting call considering how it could affect the bullpen the rest of the series, but it might be their best chance to match zeroes against Flaherty, who has shut down the Brewers at every turn this season.
In three starts against Milwaukee, Flaherty has an ERA of 1.00 in 18 innings, allowing 2 total runs in 3 starts, striking out 29. He’s done that to plenty of other teams this year, though, putting up a 3.08 ERA in 26 starts, striking out 174 batters in 143 innings. He is coming off of what might possibly be his worst start of the season, though, when he gave up 5 runs on 5 hits in 4.2 innings in Atlanta last Wednesday. It’s worth noting he’s up to a career-high of 174.2 innings on the season, after throwing 170 last year.
The Brewers will face the dreaded Rookie Pitcher in the second game of the series when the 24-year-old left-handed Gomber takes the mound. After debuting in the big leagues in the Cardinals’ bullpen, Gomber joined the Cardinals’ rotation full-time in the start of August and has largely been getting good results since then, putting up a 3.83 ERA in his last 9 outings. He’s done it by working around a lot of traffic on the bases, though, as he’s struggled with his command, walking 20 batters in 47 innings. He’s coming off a start in which he held the Braves to a single run over 5 innings, but got hit hard by the Dodgers in his start before that, allowing 7 runs on 9 hits in 3 innings.
Gant continues to fill in as part of the St. Louis rotation, but has largely struggled to pitch deep into games. That happened on Friday night, when he was only able to make it through 2.2 innings after walking 3 and allowed 4 hits, but the Giants were only able to score 1 run against him in what ended up being a 5-3 St. Louis win. He only allowed 2 runs against the Brewers in 4.1 innings the last time he saw them on August 19th, despite 6 hits and 2 walks. The Brewers will hope to capitalize on their base runners better this time -- like the Dodgers did on September 15th when they tagged him for 6 runs in 4.1 innings.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference