With the two losses in Phoenix during the NLDS, the Brewers have fallen to 39-44 on the road. Between that unimpressive record and the specter of three games at St. Louis, there is naturally some fear among the fanbase concerning the Brewers’ chances of advancing to the World Series.
When we watch the Brewers win 70% of their games at home, it’s only natural to feel a little disappointed — even cheated — when the team goes under .500 on the road. But let’s not forget: the struggles of the team on the road have been far from a universal constant for the Brewers this season.
The Brewers suffered through three road trips in the first month and change of the season: a three game sweep at the hands of the Reds to open the year, a 4-4 trip between Pittsburgh, Washington, and Philadelphia, and the real kicker, a 2-8 ordeal split between Houston, Atlanta, and St. Louis, leaving the Brewers at 6-15 on the road to open the campaign.
Lest we forget, this Brewers squad was nowhere near full strength. Just looking at April, we see a plurality of players no longer playing a role thrown into the fire. Erick Almonte received 29 plate appearances, as did Wil Nieves. Mark Kotsay took 57 in lieu of the injured Corey Hart. Casey McGehee took 107, finally hitting the pine in the playoffs with the emergence of Jerry Hairston Jr. Jeremy Reed and Brandon Boggs took 17 combined. On the pitching side, Sean Green pitched 9.1 innings, Sergio Mitre pitched 9.0, Mitch Stetter 5.1, Zach Braddock 8.1, Brandon Kintzler 12.1, and Marco Estrada took 21 innings in the place of the injured Zack Greinke. The hitters combined for -0.4 WAR; the pitchers for -0.1 WAR.
The team on the field has been completely revamped. Zack Greinke is getting starter’s innings over Estrada; Francisco Rodriguez and Takashi Saito have solidified the bullpen; Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Jerry Hairston Jr. have taken the starts in the outfield and at third base. The roster on the field over the next three days in St. Louis is the same at the top as it was six months — six months! — ago. But the foundation of players necessary to hold the team up is much improved, gone from replacement players to productive major leaguers.
Since those three road trips, the Brewers have a 33-29 record on the road (and 31-22 against National League opponents) — not excellent, not elite, but not the extraordinarily poor record the year-long treatment of the Brewers’ road struggles would lead some to believe. The Brewers are more than capable of winning one game — even two — in St. Louis, and if they can do that, it will come down to two games at Miller Park for a chance to go to the World Series. Despite Monday’s poor showing, it’s hard to imagine this year’s Brewers team asking for anything more than that.