Milwaukee Brewers Are Looking To Put the NL Central Away

Milwaukee has a four-game lead in the NL Central, and with five weeks to play, they're in a strong position to pull away in their division.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: William Contreras #24 and Devin Williams #38 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 01, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The pieces are finally coming together for the Milwaukee Brewers. Their offense is getting hot at the right time, their pitching staff is looking as strong as it has all season, and they will look to build upon their division lead when they head down to the Windy City in what will be a pivotal series with the Cubs starting on Monday.

TeamRecord (GB)Last 10Last 20Last 30Run Differential
Cubs69-61 (4 GB)7-312-820-10+79
Reds68-63 (5.5 GB)5-58-1213-17-19
Via Baseball-Reference

Each team in the NL Central has had their ebbs and flows this year. The standings have been neck-and-neck all season long, and it will be a fight to the end in this division.

The Reds have been one of the biggest surprises in 2023. They have leaned upon their abundance of young talent all season long, and it has paid off thus far. Despite losing eight of their first nine games in the month of August, the Reds are still within striking distance of first place in the NL Central and find themselves in the heart of the Wild Card race.

The biggest question mark for this team will be their starting rotation. In order to remain competitive and make a playoff push, the Reds will need their pitching staff to step up in a big way in the final month of the season.

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The Chicago Cubs have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past month thanks to their hard-hitting lineup. They improved their roster at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Jeimer Candelario, and it feels as if there are no breaks in their batting order.

There is no denying the firepower of the offense, but Chicago’s success down the stretch will be predicated on the sustainability of their pitching staff. With questions about Marcus Stroman’s ability to return from the injured list this season, the Cubs will need their pitching staff to step up in order to catch the Brewers at the top of the division.

In the end, it is looking like the Milwaukee Brewers’ division to lose.

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Milwaukee. The Brewers have been near the top of the division since the start of the season, but it feels as if they’ve squandered several opportunities to build a substantial division lead.

However, they are in the midst of one of their hottest stretches of the season, both offensively and as a pitching staff, and they are starting to get some key pieces back as we approach the final month of the year. BetMGM has the Brewers as heavy favorites to seal up the division, and their ability to do so will hinge on the dominance of their pitching staff in the final few weeks.

Elite Pitching Staff

Milwaukee’s elite pitching staff continues to be at the heart of their success. Starting with their bullpen, this team continues to help players elevate their game, and it has greatly contributed to the team’s success this season.

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The Brewers’ bullpen leads baseball in Win Probability Added (WPA) at 7.78, and they also have the best record in MLB in one-run games at 27-11 – a feat that can be attributed to their steady bullpen.

They’ve had numerous players claim high-leverage roles in their bullpen, and they have several players who can fill in as a dependable setup man to one of the best closers in baseball in Devin Williams.

Transitioning to their starting rotation, Milwaukee’s lockdown starting rotation is yet again the main storyline for this ball club. They are starting to get healthy at the perfect time, and at full strength, the Milwaukee Brewers might have the best rotation in the National League.

Starting RotationERA (xERA)FIP (xFIP)WHIPOpp BA
1. Corbin Burnes3.65 (3.38)4.00 (3.98)1.08.197
2. Brandon Woodruff2.65 (2.84)4.41 (3.53)0.88.176
3. Freddy Peralta3.95 (3.35)3.87 (3.66)1.17.212
4. Wade Miley3.18 (4.48)4.55 (4.84)1.17.231
5. Adrian Houser4.58 (4.30)4.26 (4.34)1.48.288
Stats courtesy of FanGraphs

As we approach the final month of the season, Milwaukee’s starting rotation is in the best spot it has been in all year.

While Corbin Burnes has struggled with consistency at times this season, he remains one of the best pitchers in the entire sport when things are clicking. Despite not demonstrating the same degree of pinpoint accuracy that fans have been accustomed to seeing over the past two seasons, Burnes likely still has the pitching advantage in any matchup come playoff time with how dominant he can be when he is on his game.

Brandon Woodruff recently made his return to the starting rotation after missing most of the season with a sub-scapular strain in his throwing shoulder, and he has not missed a beat since his return.

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He is still one of the best strikeout artists in the game, highlighted by his 31.8% strikeout rate and 10.85 K/9. Woodruff’s return has monumental importance for both the floor and ceiling of this ball club, and the Brewers continue to have one of the best one-two punches at the top of any rotation in the National League.

Freddy Peralta might be the biggest X-factor for this team come playoff time. On the surface level, his numbers don’t fly off the page. However, the current version of Freddy Peralta might be the best we have ever seen.

His 30.6% strikeout rate is in the 91st percentile, and his impressive 11.46 K/9 is the fourth-best mark in MLB among qualified starters. It took some time for Peralta to settle into form this season, but since the All-Star break, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. In the second half of the season, Peralta leads MLB in fWAR (1.8) to go with an ERA of 2.49 and a K/9 of 13.40 through eight outings.

At the back of the rotation, Wade Miley and Adrian Houser each bring a dependable arm and a strong veteran presence to the mound. They have both pitched about as well as you could have hoped for thus far in 2023, and they do an excellent job at giving the team a chance to win each time they pitch, which is especially valuable coming from the four and five spots in the rotation.

The Brewers have the necessary star power and depth in their starting rotation to compete in 2023, but in the end, they will need their offense to perform in order to make a run in the playoffs. Without any offensive consistency, there is a cap to how far this team can go in the postseason.

The Offense

Since the Brewers were one game away from reaching the World Series back in 2018, they have had a history of their bats going cold once they reach the playoffs. Offensive consistency has been their biggest shortcoming in recent years, so they will need role players to step up to help complement the top of the lineup if they wish to compete with the cream of the crop in the National League.

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TeamRuns (NL Rank)wRC+ (NL Rank)BA (NL Rank)OPS (NL Rank)wOBA (NL Rank)
Brewers574 (9th)90 (13th).235 (14th).696 (15th).305 (15th)
Stats via FanGraphs

The Brewers rank near the bottom of the National League in various different offensive categories this season. They have found a way to win games despite battling through offensive dry spells, but in order for the Brewers to secure their first playoff series win since 2018, they will need to get hot at the right time. Luckily for Milwaukee, they have seen their bats heat up as of late.

Their offense is starting to click as we approach September. Since being swept by the Dodgers last week, the Brewers have won eight games in a row for the first time since June of 2021. Over that stretch, the offense is averaging 7.25 runs per game and they have finally started to show some consistency at the plate.

Leading the charge for the Brewers this season has been Christian Yelich. His importance to this offense cannot be overstated, as he has played a substantial part in the Brewers’ having a four-game lead in their division.

The duo of Yelich and William Contreras at the top of the order has been the lifeline of this offense. The two are a perfect complement to each other, and it’s a recipe that has worked well ever since Contreras took over as the two-hole hitter. Beyond that, Milwaukee will need one of their core players to step up and provide a spark in the middle of the lineup.

To put it mildly, it’s been a brutal sledding offensively for Willy Adames this season. It’s been the worst season of his career at the plate, and he has struggled to find his footing all year long. Still, Adames has arguably the biggest influence on this lineup, and the offense looks noticeably different when he is swinging the bat well.

Understandably, it’s a small sample size, but over the course of Milwaukee’s eight-game winning streak, Adames is slashing .394/.459/.667 with three homers and 10 RBIs. It’s no coincidence that both Willy Adames and the Brewers’ offense as a whole are having their hottest stretch of the season at the same time.

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Adames is an integral part of this team’s offense, and the Brewers will need him to stay hot in order to see postseason success.

Two of Milwaukee’s trade deadline additions, Mark Canha and Carlos Santana, are starting to settle into their roles with their new club, and the influx of runs they can produce will be essential in providing some offensive consistency for the Brewers down the stretch.

Outside of the veterans on the roster, the Brewers will look for one of their rookies to get hot to hold down the tail end of the batting order. Rookies have played a big role in Milwaukee’s success this season, as six of the Brewers’ seven walk-off wins have come at the hands of a rookie.

Specifically, Brice Turang, Joey Wiemer, and Sal Frelick have found themselves in key roles on this team. Each of these players has the ability to contribute in a unique way for this offense. However, since they would be seeing their first playoff action at the big league level come October, it would go a long way if the veteran bats around them could alleviate some of the offensive pressure.

Final Thoughts

The Brewers and Cubs will face each other six more times this year. The first three-game set will kick off Monday at Wrigley Field, and the two clubs won’t meet again until the final series of the regular season in Milwaukee.

The Brewers have their most important stretch of the season coming up, and they will look to lean on a rock-solid pitching staff to carry them to October. However, whether or not their offense can continue to perform so well in the final month of the season will be the determining factor for the ceiling of this ball club.

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