After a long, arduous season, the Milwaukee Brewers are just a few games away from clinching a playoff spot. It was not always pretty at times, but thanks to a strong pitching staff and the managerial know-how of Craig Counsell, the ball club is also on pace to eclipse the 90-win mark and take home the NL Central title.
The Brewers hold a seven-game lead over the Chicago Cubs with just 10 games remaining in the season — a nearly insurmountable deficit even with a three-game series against Chicago to close out the campaign. Milwaukee is also likely locked into the #3 seed in the National League. The Atlanta Braves are 11 games ahead of Milwaukee, while the Los Angeles Dodgers maintain a 7.5-game gap as the number-two seed.
If the current playoff seeding holds true, the Brewers would face the Cubs in the NL Wild Card Round then, should they advance, draw the Dodgers in the Divisional Round. Neither divisional matchup is that ideal for the Brewers, as Milwaukee has just one win in six games each against the Dodgers and the Braves. Still, the club has an elite starting rotation as anyone that makes them a tough opponent for any team in the league.
As for Wild Card matchups, the Cubs are far from a sure thing. Chicago is 0.5 games ahead of the Miami Marlins heading into games on September 21, while three other teams (Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, and San Diego Padres) are within 4.5 games of the final NL Wild Card spot. Which of these teams poses the biggest challenge for the Brewers in the postseason? Let's find out.
Phillies in NLWC, Braves in NLDS
While this is an unlikely scenario, it is still possible for the Brewers to draw the Philadelphia Phillies. Philly is the top NL Wild Card team, with a 4.0 game lead over the last team out (the Marlins). This is a deep Phillies lineup with very few holes offensively. Six starters have at least 15 homers on the season and five players are batting .265 or better. Their team batting average is 18 points higher than that of the Brewers.
Philadelphia also has the pitching depth to compete in the postseason. Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler will both finish with 200-plus strikeouts on the season, while Ranger Suarez and Cristopher Sanchez anchor an underrated back of the rotation. While this team is a threat, it is hardly a matchup that will cause significant worry among Brewers fans, as Milwaukee is 4-2 against the Phillies this year. In fact, the Brewers fans will be confident facing off against any other their potential Wild Card foes, as it is unlikely that any of them will even crack the 90-win mark this year (last year the Mets were a Wild Card team with 101 wins and the 87-win Phillies reached the postseason.
As for the Divisional Round, the more difficult matchup is the Braves. The Los Angeles Dodgers' offense is just as dangerous as the battery down in Atlanta, but Los Angeles' starting pitching depth will be tested. Clayton Kershaw leads the team with just 121.1 innings pitched as injuries have ravaged this group to the point that it is difficult to discern who their starters even are. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May are both out for the year, while Kershaw has been dealing with some shoulder troubles of his own. The team should get Walker Buehler back, but he has not pitched since June 2022 and will not have the stamina to pitch significant innings.
The Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, offer Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, Charlies Morton, and Max Fried — all of whom offer ERAs under 3.80. The Wild Card Round should result in a series win for the Milwaukee Brewers regardless of the opponent, but the Brewers will face a difficult matchup in the NLDS regardless of the opponent.