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September 10, 2012

Wezen-Ball

Milwaukee's Impossible Road to the Wild Card

by Larry Granillo

The Brewers have won 15 of 20 and, after a two-out, two-run home run from Norichika Aoki to tie the game up in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday, the club was ever-so-close to sweeping the Cardinals and moving to within four games of the Wild Card spot. As it happened, however, St. Louis came through in the bottom of the tenth inning to win the game and keep the Crew six games back and tied with the Phillies for the final spot. In short, Milwaukee has a very long, if not impossible, road to the playoffs. That isn't going to keep Brewers fans from believing, however, especially after the 2011 Cardinals (and 2007 Rockies before them) showed them that a big September might be all it takes. Are they right to believe?

As of Monday morning, Milwaukee was six games out of the final Wild Card spot with two teams—the Dodgers and Pirates—between them and the holder of that spot, the Cards. That's three teams that must somehow flounder in these last three weeks while the Brewers surge. Considering that some of those teams ahead of the Brewers also play each other, the situation is pretty bleak.

Here are the remaining schedules of the four teams ahead of the Brewers in the Wild Card standings, with games against each other bolded.

Atlanta Braves: at Milwaukee (3), vs. Washington (3), at Miami (3), at Philadelphia (3), vs. Miami (3), vs. New York (3), at Pittsburgh (3)
St. Louis Cardinals: at San Diego (3), at Los Angeles (4), vs. Houston (3), at Chicago (3), at Houston (3), vs. Washington (3), vs. Cincinnati (3)
Los Angeles Dodgers: at Arizona (2), vs. St. Louis (4), at Washington (3), at Cincinnati (3), at San Diego (3), vs. Colorado (3), vs. San Francisco (3)
Pittsburgh Pirates: at Cincinnati (3), at Chicago (4), vs. Milwaukee (3), at Houston (3), at New York (4), vs. Cincinnati (3), vs. Atlanta (3)
Milwaukee Brewers: vs. Atlanta (3), vs. New York (3), at Pittsburgh (3), at Washington (4), at Cincinnati (3), vs. Houston (3), vs. San Diego (3)

Of the Brewers 22 remaining games, six are against Wild Card contenders ahead of them. This is actually a good thing for Milwaukee, as it gives the Brewers the most direct chance to make up ground on their Wild Card opposition. However, that only goes so far. The Cards and Dodgers have a four-game set coming up this weekend while the Braves and Pirates close out the season with a three-game set. During those seven games, Milwaukee will not be able to make up ground on at least one team, making everything else that much more difficult.

How difficult you might say? The table below describes how many games the Brewers need their opponents to lose in order to make the playoffs, assuming a) Milwaukee wins all six games against the contenders and b) the contenders split any games amongst each other (we'll give Atlanta the 2 games-to-1 split in its three-game series with Pittsburgh).

Team Current
Losses
Assumed
Losses
Games Remaining
(non-contenders)
Losses Milwaukee needs if they finish...
16-0 12-4 8-8 4-12
Braves 60 64 15 8 12 15* --
Cardinals 65 67 18 5 9 13 17
Dodgers 67 69 17 3 7 11 15
Pirates 67 72 17 -- 4 8 12
Brewers 71 71 16 -- -- -- --

* If Milwaukee finishes with 79 losses, the Braves could only tie them in this scenario.

In case the table is a bit hard to read, let's look at the Dodgers. Currently, Los Angeles has 67 losses. If Milwaukee sweeps both Atlanta and Pittsburgh and the Dodgers split their four-game set with St. Louis, Los Angeles will have 69 losses with 17 games to play. If the Brewers then finish out the season 16-0 (or, to be more precise, 22-0 after accounting for the six wins against Atlanta and Pittsburgh), the Dodgers would fall behind the Brewers if they lost three games. If the Brewers finished up those 16 games with a .750 winning-percentage, Los Angeles would fall behind them with 7 losses; a .500 finish for Milwaukee would mean the Dodgers would need to avoid 11 losses and a .250 skid would mean the Dodgers would just need to do better than 2-15.

What makes this table such bad news for the Brewers is not that it relies on them finishing the month 22-0 or 18-4. That's incredibly difficult, we know, but we've seen it happen in the past. No, what makes this table so dire is that not only will Milwaukee need to finish the season on a scorching hot streak but, at the same time, they will need three of the four teams on the table to finish correspondingly bad. Milwaukee isn't hoping for just one or two bad months. They need three of them. Any limited success from even two of their opponents will quickly squash the Brewers' dreams. Don't forget that this all operates on the assumption that Milwaukee sweeps its two series against Atlanta and Pittsburgh!

Not that any of this should be at all surprising. The Playoff Odds Report gave the Brewers a 0% chance this morning. Now we know why.

17 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

eskimoQball

The Brewers have just gone 15-5 in their last 20 games. So, for the purpose of this conversation, say they go 16-6 in their last 22 (continuing their current streak), with sweeps against ATL and PIT, they would need three of the following four things to happen: ATL is 1-14 or worse, STL is 7-11 or worse, LAD is 8-9 or worse, PIT is 11-6 or worse.

The Braves will not go 1-14, so forget that option.

The Pirates going BETTER than 11-6 in those games is unlikely, to the favor of the Brewers.

The Dodgers play at AZ, WAS, CIN, and SD, and have a home series against SF. They could surely lose 9 games in there, to the favor of the Brewers.

The Cardinals are the difficult one to get. They do, however, finish the season against WAS and CIN. And, while they play HOU twice and CHC once, two of those three series are on the road. If they lose 2 games in each road series (SD, HOU, CHC) and 2 games against the better competition (WAS and CIN), they just need to lose once in their home series against HOU and the Brewers could get in!

I can see all of these scenarios playing out, except one: the Brewers actually going 16-6 to finish...

Sep 10, 2012 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

Good news: Last night went perfectly! Here's to another great day!

Sep 11, 2012 05:37 AM
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eskimoQball

I will continue to post on this page every day until it becomes clear that the Brewers are actually out of the race. In the event that the Brewers complete the improbable, I request a fan interview, or something on that level in recognition of my fandom and continued dedication to this pursuit!

Last night went perfectly as well!

ASSUMPTIONS: MIL sweeps ATL and PIT and goes 10-6 in other games (thus finishing 16-6, based on going 15-5 in the 20 games immediately prior to this article)...ATL does not finish 1-14 or 0-15...STL, LAD, and PIT split games between each other (ATL wins 2 vs PIT).

NEEDS/VARIABLES: PIT, LAD, and STL all need to help the Brewers when not playing each other.

PIT, after losing twice to CIN, now would need to finish 11-4 or worse in games not played against MIL or ATL.

LAD, after losing last night, needs to finish 8-8 or worse in games not played against STL.

STL, after losing twice to SD, now would need to finish 7-9 or worse in games not played against LAD.

The Playoffs Odds Report now gives the Brewers a 0.5% chance!

Sep 12, 2012 06:11 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

Thanks! These are great comments and I look forward to seeing them everyday :-)

Sep 12, 2012 06:33 AM
 
eskimoQball

So, at this point, it seems to be getting serious. And, rather than me simply updating you, Larry, on what happened last night (as if you're unaware of the results), I'll ask a question:

Every couple/few years, it seems as though there is either a team that gives up a lead or a team that makes a late run. How often, if ever, has it happened that EITHER three teams collapse (as STL, PIT, and LAD are doing) OR two teams make almost-miraculous runs to the postseason (as MIL and PHI are). Multiples teams collapsing and/or thriving surely is less common than one team doing it, right?

Tonight, for your tracking pleasure, LAD hosts STL and PHI also plays.

Sep 13, 2012 06:15 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

PHI losing helps the Brewers, and STL winning means I'm cheering for LAD to get at least two this weekend.

Hopefully the first day off in three weeks for MIL doesn't halt the momentum! Looking for a series win at NYM!

Sep 14, 2012 06:28 AM
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eskimoQball

You can't win 'em all, right?!? The good news was PIT losing again, and LAD beating STL to split the first two. The Brewers can I'll-afford another loss to NYM at home this weekend, though. Go Crew!

Sep 15, 2012 07:06 AM
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eskimoQball

A win today, and MIL keeps pace with the STL/LAD winner...be series starts tomorrow with PIT!

Sep 16, 2012 09:55 AM
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eskimoQball

Given the upcoming schedule for STL, I was okay with the idea that they might lose yesterday...but they didn't, so now, as a Brewers fan, we need CHC and HOU to take at least 3 of the next 9 against STL.

For MIL, the hot streak continues, and a day off precedes a 10-game roadie. If they can sweep the lifeless Pirates, a premise of the original article, they could go 7-3.

Really, outside of STL, LAD, and MIL, WAS has a TON of control in this race, playing LAD now, MIL this weekend, and STL next week! It'll be a good measuring stick for their postseason readiness as well as shaping who they might see at some point.

Sep 17, 2012 06:22 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

Yesterday was the last off day for the Brewers. For a little perspective, Wisconsin bleeds green and gold. The Brewers (before 2008) were a way to get through early summer, and once training camp began in Green Bay, the Brewers were an after-thought.

In 2008, though, when MIL made its first playoff appearance since 1982, the NFL regular season essentially failed to begin until about Week 5, after PHI eliminated MIL. That truth has remained each season since then. And, just when it seemed as though Wisconsin would return to the 'old normal', with the Packers needing to fill our hunger for good sports right away in Week 1, the Brewers made their run.

The Packers have benefitted from the lack of full-season pressure the past few years, and the relationship between these two teams can be most-clearly seen in the friendship between Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun.

Maybe such a relationship between two professional franchises exists elsewhere, but I'm currently at a loss for where that is. Wisconsin currently boasts the NFL MVP, NL MVP, Miss Wisconsin, and two-time Big Ten Champs in football...not bad.

Go Brewers! We'll see you when you get back home!

Sep 18, 2012 07:00 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

Beating the Pirates is expected, for two reasons: 1) PIT has been bad recently; 2) Last night was the 9th time out of 13 this season that MIL has beaten PIT.

Unfortunately, STL beating HOU was also expected. I thought HOU had a chance in the 7th, but that was squandered. We really only need HOU to win once, but even if they don't, the sweep by SD last week essentially gave a game, so a sweep of HOU at home for STL isn't the worst for the Brewers...as long as they sweep PIT.

The double header today between LAD and WAS will be quite telling for LAD.

Sep 19, 2012 07:13 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

So, the Brewers have, essentially, pulled even with LAD, as they are now even in the loss column. More completely, the Brewers control their destiny against LAD...and against every team except STL. Unfortunately, the schedule and current standings continue to support the notion that STL will still have to finish the 'collapse'.

What would the tiebreaker scenario be if STL, LAD, and MIL all end the season tied? I believe STL would host MIL if just those two are tied. I believe MIL would host LAD if just those two are tied.

Until tomorrow...

Sep 20, 2012 05:23 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

Unofficial tiebreaker scenarios (by my calculations):

If STL and LAD are tied: LAD hosts (6-5 record against STL)
If STL and MIL are tied: STL hosts (9-6 record against MIL)
If LAD and MIL are tied: MIL hosts (6-1 record against LAD)

If STL, LAD, and MIL are tied: MIL hosts (.545 record against STL/LAD)

Sep 20, 2012 06:24 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

In the three team scenario, I should add that LAD would host STL, with the winner going to MIL.

The fun scenario for STL and LAD in this scenario is playing four games against four teams in four days in four cities (LAD, MIL, ATL, WAS/CIN). At least those cities are fairly sequential from west to east!

Sep 20, 2012 06:31 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

The Brewers have 2.5 games to make up and have 10 games to do it (STL has 9 games left). The good news is that the Brewers, thus far, have weathered the ease of STL's schedule. STL plays HOU, WAS, and CIN in their final three series, while the Brewers have CIN, HOU, SD, and their final game with WAS today. It would seem that the Brewers have the easier schedule.

It is completely plausible for STL to win 2 of 3 against HOU and lose 2 of 3 against WAS and CIN, thus going 4-5 to finish.

It is also plausible that the Brewers win today, take 1 of 3 in CIN, and 2 of three against HOU and SD, thus going 6-4, which only gains them 1.5 games. So, the Brewers need to win today, and either win the series in CIN or sweep one of the series against HOU and SD to work into a tie.

It could happen, but with each passing day, it becomes more difficult...Go Brewers!

Sep 24, 2012 06:41 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

The assertion on Sept 10 was that if Milwaukee went 16-6, there was a fairly reasonable set of events that could play out...resulting in MIL making the playoffs...let's chech for an update.

ATL has clinched the first Wild Card, as expected.

PIT, for all intents and purposes has fallen out of the race.

LAD is tied with the Brewers, 3.5 games behind STL. They have a game left against SD, then 3 against each COL and SF.

MIL has gone 11-4, including sweeps over ATL and PIT. With one game left against CIN and 3 each against HOU and SD, it could nearly be expected that MIL wins at least 5 more, thus going 16-6.

LAD and/or MIL going 5-2 to finish, though, means STL must go 1-5 or worse in their finish against WAS and CIN. Those two series are in STL. While 1-5 is unlikely, it is possible for them to lose twice in each series, thus going 2-4. In that event, either MIL or LAD could still have one hot week, winning 6 of 7 (MIL could beat CIN today, sweep HOU, and take 2 against SD, for instance) and get that one-game play-in against STL. While not essential, unless MIL and/or LAD has plans to sweep the final 6 games, both teams need to win today. We shall see...

Sep 27, 2012 06:38 AM
rating: 0
 
eskimoQball

Simply terrible...good night ya'll.

Sep 27, 2012 13:07 PM
rating: 0
 
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