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Milwaukee Brewers to face Washington Nationals in National League Wild Card game on Tuesday

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Milwaukee finishes the regular season in the second Wild Card slot.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers clinched a spot in the postseason earlier this week, but exactly what road they would be taking was still up in the air before they played today’s game 162. They started the day one game back of the divisional lead, but the 9-0 thumping that the St. Louis Cardinals put on the Chicago Cubs this afternoon rendered the outcome of Milwaukee’s tilt against the Rockies at Coors Field essentially meaningless. That contest eventually ended as a 4-3 loss in 13 innings, meaning that the Brewers finished with an 89-73 record and two games back of St. Louis in the National League Central standings. So, Milwaukee will settle for a playoff berth via the NL’s second Wild Card slot.

The top Wild Card team on the Senior Circuit was the Washington Nationals at 93-69, so the Cream City Nine will head to the nation’s capital to play at Nationals Park in the do-or-die elimination game on Tuesday night, October 1st. First pitch in that game is scheduled for 7:08 PM central. The Brewers won the season series between the two clubs, four victories to two.

Max Scherzer will toe the slab to begin the game for the Nationals, he of a 2.92 ERA and 54 FIP- in 27 starts and 172.1 innings this season. The future Hall of Famer missed nearly a month worth of action between late July and late August this season, and since returning to action on August 22nd, he has compiled a more pedestrian 4.74 earned run average in 38.0 innings. He’s punched out 54 batters against only eight walks in that time, but has been bitten by issues with the home run ball, serving up eight of them during his last seven starts. After Scherzer, rotational stalwarts Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will be available out of the ‘pen for the Nats. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Davey Martinez turn to one of those two hurlers rather than his typical bullpen arms, as the Nationals have the worst relief corps in the league this year by ERA.

Milwaukee will send All-Star Brandon Woodruff to the mound to oppose Mad Max. The 26 year old finished his first full season in the big leagues with a 3.62 ERA in 121.2 innings across 22 starts this season, along with a far more impressive 67 FIP-. Woodruff missed nearly two months with an oblique injury before returning to make two abbreviated starts in September, pitching 4.0 scoreless innings. He’s probably not stretched out to go much deeper than 50-60 pitches, so it’s likely a good thing that the “A” bullpen should also be well rested for CC. That means potential multi-inning availability from guys like Drew Pomeranz, Josh Hader, Brent Suter, and Junior Guerra. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that second-half ace Jordan Lyles makes an appearance, either.

The Brewers should also be getting two important players battling injuries back into the lineup for Tuesday — Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain. Braun, the team’s best player by wRC+, home runs, RBI, and fWAR since batting champion Christian Yelich went on the shelf on September 10th, suffered a mild calf strain on Friday night and didn’t play at all during the weekend. Cain, who has been dealing with knee injuries throughout the year, sprained his left ankle sliding unsuccessfully into home plate on Saturday night and missed the regular season finale. Braun is probably more of a sure thing than Cain, but both players were reportedly feeling better and one would think they’d probably try to do all they can to be on the field for the winner-take-all situation on Tuesday night.

The Brewers and Nationals will have until Tuesday morning to submit their 25-man active rosters for the Wild Card game. The winner of the one-game playoff will move on the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of the NL West with a 106-56 record. That five-game series starts on Thursday, October 3rd.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs