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Friday, August 26, 2011

A Month to Remember

On July 25th the Brewers sat a half game out of first place, behind co-division leaders Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Needless to say, one month later the picture has changed. The Pirates, as many of us expected, fell completely out of contention in rather quick fashion, while the Cardinals went 13-15 over the next month. The Brewers, meanwhile, won 24 of their next 29 games. The Crew now leads the Cardinals by nine and a half games, and the Pirates have fallen even further, sitting behind the Reds in fourth place at 16 games back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Playoff Hopes Starting to Come into Focus

The Brewers still have 39 regular season games left, but after winning 18 of their last 20 games and opening a seven game lead in the NL Central, murmurings of the Crew making the playoffs are growing. Granted, of those 39 games they play the Cardinals six times. If the Cardinals sweep both series they would reduce the seven game lead to one. That's highly unlikely, considering how the Brewers have played as of late, along with this season's record between the two, but it's still possible. Indeed, there are still too many games left in the season for me to feel comfortable expecting the Brew Crew to make the postseason, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't started thinking about the distinct possibility, even probability, that they win the division.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Bad Time to Lose a Starter

On the heels of last night's extra innings win in St. Louis came news that Brewers' starting pitcher Chris Narveson sliced his hand while attempting to fix his glove with a pair of scissors. He will miss his next start and might land on the DL. Normally a missed start by a team's number five pitcher would not be of much concern because off days usually allow the other starters to move up spot and pitch on regular rest. Indeed, with Monday's off day, that is still possible if Narveson misses only one start.

However, this injury comes on the first day of a stretch where the Brewers play seventeen games in sixteen days, including a double header in Pittsburgh on August 22nd, requiring another starter to step up and fill in for Narveson if he ends up on the DL. With the double header at the end of this stretch the Crew may need to call up a minor league pitcher, such as Mark DiFelice or Mike McClendon, regardless of whether or not Narveson misses more than one start. Narveson's injury shouldn't affect the Brewers too much, but its timing is unfortunate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Most Important Series of the Year

Forty seven games remain in the Brewers' season. Although, in the end, every game plays into a team's record with just as much weight as any other, none are more important than the three that begin in St. Louis tonight. Beginning with last week's series vs the Cardinals in Milwaukee, games between the two rivals now take on a playoff atmosphere in what's become a two team race in the NL Central. Winning two games of this series will have a large impact on the fortunes of either team, both mentally and in the standings. The Brewers enter the series with a chance to improve their lead from three games to six, while the Cardinals could close the gap with a sweep. Last week's series became quite heated, and I expect nothing less from these next three games. Outside of the actual postseason, these games represent the beginning of the best baseball has to offer: two division rivals on hot streaks, high intensity and competition, battling it out for what could make the ultimate difference in their seasons at a point when the playoffs seem a real possibility. Let the pennant race continue.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tony La Russa Roots For the Brewers

Last week the Cardinals made a trade to bolster their starting rotation and bullpen. In doing so they certainly improved their pitching staff, though that improvement came at a large cost as they sent their young slugging center fielder, Colby Rasmus, to the Blue Jays. I have to wonder if the Cardinals couldn't have made similar improvements without losing someone who could have become a centerpiece of their lineup in seasons to come. Rasmus has had his ups and downs over his time in the majors, but most scouts believe he's the real deal and one (tweeted by Buster Olney) said: "I think Rasmus has a chance to be a star. I don't understand that deal at all." At center field, such a commodity should be kept at nearly any cost.