It’s very easy to be upset after the Brewers game 7 loss at the hands of the Dodgers on Saturday night. However, there is no doubt that the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers were something special. How often do the Brewers get more attention in Wisconsin than the beloved Green Bay Packers when their seasons overlap? The young and exciting Brewers took the entire state of Wisconsin by storm with their late season push for October baseball. Sure, it stings to be knocked out on your home field in a game 7, one win away from the World Series. The Brewers have plenty to be proud of despite that.
After a surprising 2017 (to some) the Milwaukee Brewers went out and made big splashes in the offseason, looking to prove that 2017 was no fluke. Despite adding elite outfield talent in Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, many fans and experts still underestimated the young Milwaukee club.
“They don’t have enough pitching!” Was a main point of criticism directed towards the Brewers. Little did they know how incredible new acquisitions Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley would be so crucial to the starting rotation. How incredible the bullpen would be anchored by Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Corbin Burnes, and Corey Knebel. Brewers pitching would finish the year with a 3.73 ERA, good for 4th in the National League. This pitching staff would go on to allow only two runs in the NLDS in route to a sweep of the Colorado Rockies, one of the best offensive teams in the league. Brewers pitching went on to post a 2.40 ERA in 10 games during the post season, the best of any of the remaining final four teams.
This team had doubters all season long and all Milwaukee kept doing was proving them wrong. No one expected them to be a final four team or to push the Dodgers to their limit. The Brewers are always going to be the underdog, even if they do finish at the top of the National League.
The 2018 Brewers should give hope to small market teams around baseball. With a payroll of just $108 million on the 40-man roster. It was the second lowest of any of the playoff teams as only Oakland had a lower payroll of $80 million. Seasons like this really go to show that any team can compete in baseball if they are managed correctly. David Sterns and Craig Counsell are at the forefront of the Brewers success. In the front office David Sterns is making all of the right moves and Craig Counsell is making the right decisions on the field.
There are always going to be fans who criticize decisions that don’t work out. For example, Jeremy Jeffress did not have a good postseason for the Brewers. Counsell trusted Jeffress all season as he was one of the best relievers in baseball. His regular season sample size was too significant to stop using Jeffress as the numbers indicated that he should’ve been able to bounce back. Unfortunately this was not the case and Jeffress posted an ERA over 6 in the post season. It’s easy to be upset with Jeffress after his poor postseason showing, but it cannot be forgotten how essential he was during their playoff push.
What really ended up costing the Brewers in these playoffs was the ability to drive in runners in scoring position. In game 7 against the Dodgers, Milwaukee had a runner on second with no outs and couldn’t drive him in. After that, the Milwaukee offense went silent and that was the theme throughout the entire playoffs. Even in the first two games against Colorado they were having this issue. The Brewers hit a measly .205 with RISP and was ultimately the death of the team.
The most important take away from this post season is the experience the younger guys got. Arica, Yelich, Shaw, Aguilar, Hader, Burnes, Woodruff, and others got their first taste of October baseball and are crucial pieces of the puzzle going forward. There is only room to go up for this young group of guys and they are looking to be just as good, if not better in 2019.
Sitting in that stadium when the Dodgers finally won it was one of the most painful experiences in my life. I really thought the Brewers had a shot at making it to the World Series after sweeping the Rockies. It didn’t end the way Brewer fans wanted, but it was still one of the best seasons in franchise history, and for sure the most memorable in my lifetime. The Brewers gave fans a reason to watch from game 1 of the regular season through game 7 of the NLCS. It was a fantastic season of Brewers baseball.