Year after year, they lurk in the shadowy corners of the National League, almost like a whispered secret in the world of baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers, a small-market team built on the supremacy of their bullpen, often seem like the forgotten team in the NL, even though they've consistently demonstrated their prowess and have won the NL Central division for the second time in three years. Now, as they step into the MLB Playoff's for the NL Wild Card Series once again, this might just be their year to shine, and they must seize this opportunity. Because it could be their last one.
The Brewers have been a consistent team
From 2018 until 2021, the Brewers made the playoffs every year, a remarkable feat for a franchise of their size and resources. However, their postseason journeys were often short-lived, with early exits becoming all too familiar. Outside of their thrilling run in 2018, when they battled the Los Angeles Dodgers to a seven-games in the NLCS, the Brewers found themselves eliminated in the first round in subsequent appearances, be it the Wild Card or the divisional round. Last year, they missed the playoffs entirely.
The Brewers have witnessed prosperous eras in their history, yet they've clinched just one pennant, an achievement dating back to 1982 during their tenure in the American League. Since their transition to the National League in 1998, the elusive World Series title has remained beyond their grasp. The mounting pressure on this franchise, especially during Craig Counsell's tenure that commenced in 2015, is palpable. As previously mentioned, the Brewers came excruciatingly close in 2018, falling a mere win short of a World Series berth. This season marks their fifth playoff appearance in six years, a testament to their consistency. However, consistency can take on a harsher hue when it's associated with a pattern of falling short in critical moments.
Despite their consistency, the Brewers find themselves entering the playoffs a bit off the radar. In the National League, they are the third-best division champion, overshadowed by powerhouses like the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. While they might not top the list of national favorites, the folks in Milwaukee have been patiently waiting for their moment. Can this be the year? Is a World Series finally within grasp?
What happens with Craig Counsell?
In a twist of urgency, Craig Counsell, often regarded as one of the game's best managers, is operating on an expiring contract, leaving fans and the organization uncertain about the future. In fact, some are saying he's the favorite to become the New York Mets skipper. This could be the Brewers' last, best chance to capture their first title that has eluded them for so long, with one of the games best managers.
How the Brewers can get to and win the World Series
For the Brewers, the path to making it beyond the MLB Wild Card Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and getting to the World Series lies within their superb bullpen. That tends to be the recipe for any team in the MLB Playoffs. Their relievers, like Joel Payamps, Hoby Milner and Bryse Wilson are some of the best in the majors in clutch situations, particularly in both one-run and extra inning games. And that's not even mentioning closer Devin Williams, who held batters to just a .158 batting average. Their bullpen as a whole for the season were second only to the New Yankees in ERA with a 3.40, according to FanGraphs.
Beyond their bullpen, the Brewers have a strong rotation in the likes of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta — although they'll be without Woodruff for the Wild Card series. While behind them is an elite defense, capable of robbing hits in both the infield and outfield.
However, for the Brewers, they're going to have to prove they can score runs and give their teams leads. Their going to have to rely on guys like former MVP Christian Yelich, William Contreras and trade deadline pickup Mark Canha, and hope that others like rookie Sal Frelick is up for the big moment of playing the MLB Playoffs.
The clock is ticking in Milwaukee. This has to be the year for the Brewers to win the World Series.