The Brewers aren’t in the playoff race anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the games they’re playing now aren’t important. Just ask the Cardinals. Entering Tuesday’s series opener against the Brewers, the Cardinals sat at 65-51, only one game behind the Reds and even in the loss column. Entering play today, the Reds have a 3.5 game lead. How big was this two game series for St. Louis? Let’s take a look at some playoff odds systems.
6/16: 41.6% chance of winning division, 59.4% chance of reaching playoffs.
6/19: 26.5% chance of winning division, 47.5% chance of reaching playoffs.
The losses to the Brewers killed the Cardinals chances at the division, and although they still have a decent shot at making the playoffs, they’re now more likely, at least according to Coolstandings methodology (not great!) to miss the playoffs than make it.
Let’s take a look at a method that I like a bit better: the one used at Baseball Prospectus. They don’t use last season’s statistics, and instead use third order wins, which are cool because they adjust for strength of schedule as well as expected runs scored and allowed.
6/16: 51.7% chance of winning division, 66.7% chance of reaching playoffs
6/19: 31.2% chance of winning division, 47.1% chance of reaching playoffs
Remarkably, the two game sweep by Milwaukee lowered the Cardinals chances of winning the division by nearly 20 points. Part of this is due to the fact that the Reds continue to win, of course, but the fact that the Brewers took these two home games from St. Louis will be a big factor in September as the Cardinals chase the Reds.
The Brewers start a series with the Padres tonight. The Padres have a 95%+ chance at reaching the postseason according to both sites, so even if the Brewers sweep, it probably won’t have much of an impact on the race, but there are still a number of teams that the Brewers can attempt to play spoiler against as the season winds down.