On May 28th, Baseball Prospectus gave the Milwaukee Brewers an 18% chance at making the playoffs. That may have sounded quite charitable at the time — the club sat at just 19-28 and was reeling following two come-from-ahead losses at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. And then there was a series in Los Angeles, where the Brewers have struggled oh-so-badly, against a Dodgers team that was getting Matt Kemp back and had a 32-15 record heading in. And the injuries.
But then the Brewers won. And then they won again. And then they won again. And finally, road Zack Greinke and the suddenly reanimated corpse that is Aramis Ramirez led the Brewers to the fourth victory Thursday night, securing the sweep.
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Brewers’ playoff odds were already up to 33%. Once the odds are updated (likely well before I awake), I expect they will be somewhere between 35% and 40%. Maybe higher. But probably not, since yesterday’s light slate didn’t allow the Brewers to pair their victory with a Cardinal, Met, Nat, Phillie, or other contending team loss. Still, if people are already looking for turning points, this is a real one, not the easily manufactured ones typically seen in the early months of the season. The sweep has given life to a team that may have been dead in the water with yet another series loss.
Not that things aren’t still precarious — they always are at six games under .500. But the Brewers have a great chance to make up ground with the upcoming schedule, as a homestand begins Friday with series against the Pirates, Cubs and Padres before a road trip to Kansas City and Minnesota to kick off the second round of interleague play. A deeper look at the schedule shows reason for optimism: of 111 games remaining (a bright spot in and of itself), the Brewers face Pittsburgh, Chicago, Houston and San Diego 43 times.
Thanks to the four-game sweep of the National League’s best team (by record, at least), opportunity is knocking. Now it’s time for the Brewers to answer the door.