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Friday, September 27, 2019

Improved Pitching Is Fueling Brewers’ Postseason Push Without Christian Yelich

September constitutes its own weird frame of reference for MLB—speed and distance are harder to accurately discern, everything passes too slowly or too fast, the stakes are either so high that you cannot look down or so low that the situation is all flattened out. The usual standards do not apply.

So, from the perspective of this late-season weirdness, when Christian Yelich fractured his kneecap on September 10, it seemed fairly clear: Milwaukee’s season was over. The Brewers would not return to the postseason for a second consecutive year. An extreme reaction to one injury? Sure. But the team was one game back of the second wild-card; Yelich was not only their best player, but arguably the best in the National League; and their proximity to a playoff spot had been possible only with an extreme hot stretch that seemed like it would be difficult to sustain even under the best of circumstances. Their remaining schedule was fairly easy (four of five series were against losing teams), but even so, there was no room for error; FanGraphs put their postseason chances at just 25%. The stakes were just too much, and Yelich was too good. There was too much time to fill. From this frame of reference, Milwaukee was, if not screwed, dangerously close to it.

But, of course, it wasn’t. The Brewers’ Wednesday win over the Reds clinched their postseason spot. Even without Yelich, they’re going back to October. They have not just survived the last two weeks. They’ve dominated them. Since Yelich’s injury, Milwaukee is 12-2, part of a greater run that’s turned on the strength of what was formerly their biggest weakness: In September, Brewers pitching has been crucial to their success.

Milwaukee’s staff has ranged from clear problem area (in the spring) to serious liability (early season) to, at best, simply fine (late summer). As a group, it’s never been a particular positive. And now?

Not what any of us were expecting two weeks ago, is it?

 

QLE Posted: September 27, 2019 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, christian yelich, pitching

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