Brewers Face Important 20 Game Stretch

Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun stretches before batting in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 20, 2010 in Denver. Milwaukee beat Colorado 6-1.       UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Brewers enter Tuesday night with 20 games remaining before the All-Star break and a record of 29-40.  As bad as things look now, neither the Cardinals nor the Reds have been able to further separate themselves from the rest of the division.  Making the playoffs continues to be incredibly unlikely, but a strong finish to the first half could have the Brewers in position to at least make things interesting down the stretch.

Of those 20 games, six are Interleague bouts — the series against the Twins and Mariners in this homestand.  However, after the three-game set against the Twins, they don’t play a playoff-caliber team again until July 1st, when they open a quick four-game road trip against the Cardinals.  Three of the teams they’ll be playing in this stretch — the Mariners, Astros, and Pirates — are genuinely terrible teams that the Brewers should be able to beat.

I don’t expect the Brewers to go 9-0 in those games, but they probably need to go 6-3 if they have any intentions of doing more than treading water before the break.  Needless to say, going 10-10 in these upcoming 20 games would probably officially signal the end of the season, and the Prince Fielder trade rumors would start to get loud.  So how do the Brewers need to fare in order to put themselves in a position to make a second-half run?

10-10 would mean finishing 39-50, and with 3 games each against the Pirates and Astros, it would probably also mean the team slips closer towards last place.

11-9 or 12-8 seems like a safe bet, but would only marginally help the team.  They’d be 40-49 or 41-48 in that scenario, and their position in the division would likely stay the same.

13-7 would make them 42-47 — not great, but at least within 5 games of .500.  Going 14-6 would be even better, and at 43-46 might have them comfortably in third place by the All-Star break.  Anything better than that would likely be too good to be true, considering that tough 8-game stretch against the Cards and Giants in which they’ll likely run into three or four Cy Young candidates, depending on how the rotations fall.

Unless the Brewers go on a miracle run and finish by winning 15 of 20, it’s unlikely they’ll be catching the Cardinals or Reds anytime soon.  What they can do, though, is keep us interested in what could at least be another winning season.  I know a lot of fans seem to be over the idea of winning 82 games just for the sake of winning 82 games, but it would at least give people a reason to be hopeful for next season.

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