200 Miles From the Citi

August 22, 2011 10:41 AM

World Series Brewin'?


It was about a year ago I started to get really excited about my Giants over Rangers World Series pick.  (Yes, in case you didn't know, in March 2010 I picked the Giants over the Rangers in the 2010 World Series.  I like tooting that horn.)

The Rangers were starting to pull away in the AL West, and the Giants were within striking distance of the Padres, who I never thought would hold on.  (I acknowledge I was almost very wrong there.)

This year, I'm starting to get that same feeling - not in the AL West, where my AL Champion pick Angels are not out of it, but are dangerously close - about the Brewers.

Like last year, I feel like just making the playoffs is the first step towards that World Series pick coming true...and the Brewers are knocking on that door.

But despite their weekend sweep of the Mets, I'm not bursting with confidence about Milwaukee.

Mets fans saw one of the hottest teams in baseball come tearing through Queens over the weekend. And quite a few of the Brewers' best traits were on display against the Mets - late-inning magic Saturday, good starting pitching Friday and Sunday, and power throughout the three-game series, even in power-starved Citi Field.

But there seems to be more than meets the eye with Milwaukee.

They've gotten tremendously hot against teams like the Pirates, who they've absolutely owned the past five or so seasons, the Dodgers, who are having a Mets-like season, and the Astros, who are terrible...not to mention the rest of the NL Central, which is a pretty weak division this year.

And all that wouldn't be all that bad if there weren't some stark contrasts against the good teams.  During interleague play, the Brewers looked outclassed as they lost five of six to the Yankees and Red Sox...including two games at Fenway Park where the Sox knocked the Brewers around for 22 runs.  (They also lost two out of three to Tampa Bay, to further the argument.)

Before they got championship-like hot in August (six straight wins to close out July, then a 16-3 August record), the Brewers played .500 ball against the Rockies, Giants, and Diamondbacks...teams about the caliber of what the Brewers would be playing in the first round of the playoffs.

It's not like the Brewers have no hope once they make the post-season, though.  Their pitching, supposed to be much-improved this year, has been.  Shaun Marcum has been on a streak that has seen his record improve to 11-3 with a 3.40 ERA...and Zack Greinke is up to 12-4 as he rides a 5-start winning streak, which doesn't include three previous solid starts in which he took two no-decisions and a loss.  Those two off-season acquisitions need to be formidable in the post-season for the Brewers to have a chance to advance - they look like they're hitting their strides just in time.

The Brewers have also gotten an explosive (the good, catalyst explosive, not the bad, disruptive explosive) contribution from Nyjer Morgan, who is a complex character, to say the least.  It seems to be no small feat that he can help a clubhouse with his alter egos rather than tear it apart.

And, finally, it was early in the season, but the Brewers held their own in April in Philadelphia, taking two out of three in an exciting series that had playoff preview written all over it.  Outside of that series, the Brewers haven't been all that competitive in games against potential playoff opponents...but they have won almost 60-percent of their games, and opened up an 8-and-a-half game lead in their division.  You have to win the games on your schedule...they've done that, and can ride it to a division win.

And just getting into the post-season is the first step...once they do that, anything can happen.

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