This piece will touch on every team that shares the same goal of a Wild Card berth as Milwaukee, and what needs to happen in order for the Brewers to outlast them by game 162. It’s certainly possible that the division leaders of Atlanta, Arizona, and Chicago could lose their hold on the division by the end of the season, but this piece will zero in on the current wild card picture as of 8/20.
Philadelphia Phillies- Record: 68-56, tied with Brewers
The Phillies have enjoyed a resurgent 2018 campaign under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, after having a rough last few seasons. Additions of Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta compounded with starter Aaron Nola having a breakout season (2.24 ERA) and Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins enjoying continued success has made Philadelphia an interesting contender with a good mix of young, ascending players as well as experienced veterans. The Brewers and Phillies have split their season series, 3-3. They perhaps have as good a chance to win their division as they do to claim a Wild Card spot, because as of Monday, August 20, they are just 0.5 games back of Atlanta.
St. Louis Cardinals– Record: 68-57, 0.5 GB of Brewers
The Cardinals are the hottest team in the National League right now, having won 9 of their last 11 contests and with a record of 20-11 since Mike Matheny was relieved if his managerial duties in favor of interim skipper Mike Schildt. A huge reason for their surge is first baseman Matt Carpenter. Carpenter struggles mightily out of the gates for St. Louis but now sits atop the National League in home runs with 33. When some of their strong rotation pieces come off the DL (Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha), this Cardinals team has as good a chance as any to be a serious playoff threat.
Colorado Rockies- Record: 68-56, tied with Brewers
The Colorado Rockies, who beat the Brewers by one game for the second Wild Card spot in 2017, once again find themselves neck and neck with the Crew. As usual, the Rockies have a stout offense backed by Nolan Arenado (30 HR), Trevor Story (.903 OPS), and Charlie Blackmon (.342 OBP.) The rotation, much like Milwaukee’s has been serviceable, but lacks a true ace. Colorado’s bullpen outside of Adam Ottavino has been their biggest issue, and getting those other guys right will be key for them in this chase.
LA Dodgers- Record: 67-58, 1.5 GB of Brewers
If you glanced at the Dodgers’ lineup, you would have no doubts that they would be a full-fledged World Series contender; especially after the trade deadline acquisitions of Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. However they would find themselves watching from the couch if the playoffs started today, and much of that can be attributed to recent bullpen struggles in the wake of stud closer Kenley Jansen hitting the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat. This team surely has a run in them, but they look vulnerable at the moment.
While it is definitely important to follow what these other National League do with the remainder of their schedule, the Brewers simply need to take care of business with their own remaining schedule which is according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, the easiest in the National League among the contenders. The upcoming homestand in which the Brewers will welcome Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to town is a crucial one. None of the three starting pitchers the Brewers will face from Cincinnati have an ERA of below 5, and while the Pirates are slipping out of contention, it will be important to take advantage of them as well.
As long as the Brewers remain focused on catching the Cubs, that effort should propel them to at least a Wild Card spot, if not the division title. And for a fan base that hasn’t tasted October baseball since the days of Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and the rest of the gang, a postseason berth of any kind would make this a successful season.