Although many pegged the Brewers to own yet another top-5 selection in the draft, they have arguably been the best rebuilding team in the league. Owning a 70-86 record, they have nearly cemented themselves as a non-last place team, as one win ensures them at least 4th place in the NL Central. While catching up to the Pirates is a near-impossibility, the Crew has begun to shut-down players for the season. Though it is sad to think we won’t see RHP Zach Davies and RHP Junior Guerra pitch until next season, there is one thing that matters this season: draft pick order. While I don’t condone the idea of throwing the final six games of the season, the pressure of the upcoming draft is too important not to think about when in a rebuilding phase.
The actual place in the draft order has little importance in terms of drafting a talented player – a selection of one or two slots lower ultimately doesn’t do an entire lot in the grand scheme of things (as long as a team’s scouting department is solid). Rather, it comes in the benefits tied to the order in the draft. Normally, the worst 10 teams in the league are given protection rights when it comes to the Free Agency Period. Usually, if a team decides to pursue a top free agent, that team would have to forfeit their draft pick as compensation. But if the selection falls within the top-10 that year, their first selection is protected, and the second round pick is forfeited – making it an easier choice for losing teams to sign a big free agent. Owning a higher draft pick also allows a team to have a larger bonus pool to spend on their players – meaning if the Brewers get a higher selections, they’ll have more money to spend when signing draftees.
At this point, the Brewers currently would have rights to the ninth pick in next year’s draft, but could that change in the next week?
#7 Overall Pick: Oakland Athletics (67-88):
Series Remaining: @ LAA (3 games), @ SEA (4 games)
The season so far was one many fans were expecting: growing pains and constant pitching rotation shifts due to their their incision of young prospects to pair with an inefficient offense (rank last in AL in runs scored, 4th-worst in MLB). They currently are in last place in the AL West, and are one game away from nabbing a top-5 selection (Padres and Rays at 67 wins). They finish up the season by playing seven games against inter-divisional opponents Los Angeles and Seattle. We do know the probable pitchers for the next series, and it looks as though they could have a chance to win two games in Los Angeles with the trio of Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, and Sonny Gray throwing. However, with Mengden coming off a rough start and Sonny Gray reportedly limited to just a couple of innings, the Angels could continue to extend their four-game winning streak. Ideally, us Brewer fans would want them to win both series at the least in order to give us a chance to get a higher pick on account of our tough schedule. But regardless of the outcome, the results of that series could determine if we do slot at anything lower than ninth to end the season.
#8 Overall Pick: Los Angeles Angels (69-86):
Series Remaining: vs. OAK (3 games), vs. HOU (3 games)
Riding the four game winning streak all the way home will be the key for the Angels final stretch, as well as the Brewers’ indirect success at a higher pick. As mentioned earlier, the Angels will face the Athletics in a key three-game series beginning tomorrow. Going into today, they’ve owned a 17-13 record despite being the fourth-worst team in the AL. This recent success could continue against the next two series, as they have a 56.9% chance of victory in each game against the Athletics and a 49.6% chance against the Astros (according to teamrankings.com). If they can manage to win four of their final six, it could put the Crew in a solid position to at least tie, if not finish a game under the Halos.
#9 Overall Pick: Milwaukee Brewers (70-86)
Series Remaining: at TEX (3 games), at COL (3 games)
Currently being one of the best-of-the-worst teams in the majors, the Brewers will have an uphill battle against the AL West clinching Rangers and offensive-heavy Rockies. In terms of potential victories, the Crew will avoid the Rangers’ top starters: Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. Game one of the series will see RHP Matt Garza taking on RHP Martin Perez – who’s thrown four straight straight quality starts along with his 2.13 ERA in that span. RHP Jimmy Nelson will face RHP A.J. Griffin in Game Two, and RHP Chase Anderson will throw the finale. LHP Derek Holland was slated to oppose him, but has since been told he’ll by moving to the bullpen for the rest of the season. Though it may appear that Texas could rest their regulars since clinching the AL West, they will push for home field advantage to further hopes of a long tenure in the playoffs. The Brewers will be hard-pressed to prevent runs against the 5th-best offense in the majors, and it’ll even more difficult the final series. Though no pitchers have been announced for the series in Colorado, there most likely will be a couple of call-ups that will get the nod. With Junior Guerra and Zach Davies shut down for the rest of the season, a spot or two might be given to a mix of RHP Taylor Jungmann, RHP Tyler Cravy, and LHP Brent Suter (most likely in that order). Those will be tall orders to ask, as they’ll be facing the second-best offense in the MLB in the worst park possible. Even though the season has been much better than many had anticipated, the Crew could drop five of their final six – thus prompting a selection as high as #7. If they continue their winning record in September (13-10), it could mean they might fall a spot or two. The Rockies, who would own the #11 selection if the season ended today, are three games up on the Crew – meaning the Brewers have an small chance of surpassing them. Even so, it appears as though they’ll have draft pick protection even if they slip in the reverse standings and fall to their 73-89 projection.
#10 Overall Pick: Philadelphia Phillies (70-86):
Series Remaining: at ATL (3), vs. NYM (3)
Believe it or not, but the Phillies could be in a tight spot for their final six games. After losing three of four to the Mets (including the 17-0 drubbing today), they’ll be forced to play the surging Braves before returning home to play the Mets once again. Their next three scheduled arms – RHP Jerad Eickhoff, LHP Adam Morgan, and RHP Jeremy Hellickson – could keep them from losing to the Braves, who are winners of seven of their last eight. Though both teams are ranked as worst and second-worst in terms of run producing, it will be key for the Phillies to win to ensure at least a top-9 selection for Stearns and Company.
In the end, for the Brewers to nab the highest selection possible (#7) without tying any other team and with some leeway (as in a 2-4 finish to the season), this list of happenings would have to occur:
- The Oakland Athletics would have to sweep Seattle and take two of three from the Angels
- The Los Angeles Angels could lose two of three to Oakland, but must sweep Houston
- The Phillies would have to win at least three of their next six games
If there were any tiebreakers between the Brewers and another team(s), rules dictate that the Brewers would have higher drafting rights than both the Athletics and Angels. Draft order between tied records is determined by the previous season’s win-loss record (Angels went 85-77). The Athletics and Brewers tied last season at 68-94, but the Athletics won 88 games in 2014, as opposed to the Brewers’ 82-80 record. So, with tiebreakers, the Brewers could still land the #7 pick and win three of six games if:
- Athletics win five of their final seven
- Angels win four of their final six
- Phillies win four of their final six
By breaking it down, it makes it seem as though it could be easy to still maintain a respectable record while earning a higher draft position, but asking for losing teams who have started to shut down players to win the majority of their games is a tall order. In all likelihood, the Brewers draft pick will be a protected one (meaning a top-10 pick), and they could slip into the #8 pick if they win four of their final six – pushing any 73-win tiebreaker in our favor. Though the Phillies could also get in the way of plans, they have a better chance of taking three games from Atlanta and New York than the Brewers do against Texas and Colorado. Jumping one spot (#8) or standing pat (#9) in the reverse standings is the most confident prediction one could give in accordance with these guidelines, though they could also drop to #10 if the Phillies and Brewers both go even at 73-89.