After yet another disappointing series against the San Diego Padres, the Milwaukee Brewers will enter the first work week of May with a poor 10-15 record, including three losses out of four to the San Diego Padres over the weekend. There appear to be many issues with this team – only two runs were scored the entire series – but the biggest issue going forward is simply the hole that this team has put itself in.
Entering the season, most projection systems pegged the Brewers for something within two games of .500. I don’t believe that a whole lot has changed since then – yes, Trevor Hoffman has looked awful, but at the same time, Jim Edmonds looks like a legitimate starter in right field, Casey McGehee has showed that his excellent 2009 probably wasn’t a fluke, and Jeff Suppan is no longer in the starting rotation, all significant upgrades from what we – and more importantly, the projection systems – thought would happen coming into the season. This team is probably still a .500 true talent team going forward, if not slightly better than that.
That doesn’t change the fact that a 10-15 record puts the Brewers a whopping 7 games back of the Cardinals for the division and 4.5 games back of the Giants for the NL Wild Card. Simply put, there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of teams to climb over in order to make the playoffs.
First, the good news: the top 6 teams in the Wild Card race – San Francisco, New York, Washington, Florida, Chicago, and Cincinnati – are by no means great teams. These aren’t the kind of teams to take fast starts and turn them into 90 win seasons. I don’t expect any one of these six teams to finish above 86 wins – New York probably has the best chance out of all of them, especially if they can survive until Carlos Beltran returns from injury.
Still, the Brewers are also behind Colorado and Atlanta, both teams the projection systems and myself expected to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year. These teams have not played well, at 12-13 and 11-14 respectively, but are both loaded with talent and quite capable of making runs at the postseason fueled by long winning streaks. I feel that these are the two teams that the Brewers or any other prospective wild card team will be chasing come September, so Milwaukee should consider it a blessing that they are only two games behind Colorado and one behind Atlanta.
In order to finish with 88 wins – probably the minimum necessary to get the wild card – the Brewers would have to go 78-59 the rest of the way. That’s a .569 winning percentage – above this team’s true talent, but given a little luck, certainly possible. Beyond the Boxscore ran their playoff odds again yesterday using preseason CHONE projections. Their simulation put the Brewers playoff odds at 13%. That number doesn’t exactly fill anybody with confidence, but at the same time, the season is far from over. The Brewers have dug themselves a hole. Over the next five months, we’ll see if they can dig themselves out of it.