Despite the heartbreaking ending, Milwaukee’s season — especially in September — was a memorable one. Let’s review the Brewers’ season, and take a closer look at the ups and downs that accompanied.
The Brewers lost Yelich on , but the club won 13 of its final 18 games without him. Their successful end to September pushed them ahead for the NL’s final wild card spot, knocking out the Cubs in the process. The club’s 20 wins in September led the majors. The Brewers’ September surge also included recording the best ERA in the league that month. , but Milwaukee still managed to notch much-needed wins in the season’s final stretch.
“The inning was an ugly inning,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the game. “Crazy things happen. If you could have told me we’d hand the ball with six outs to go with Josh [Hader], that would have fit our script really, really well. It just didn’t play.”
Creative pitching in today’s game is becoming the norm, and Counsell’s strategy is expected to be deployed by a few other teams this postseason, including the Rays, A’s and even the Yankees. Jordan Lyles and Adrian Houser were able to pitch deep into games, but in 2019, no Brewers pitcher reached 160 innings.
Improbable run after losing Yelich
The pair of sluggers proved to be key acquisitions for the Brewers this season, and they both just might be worth another season or two with Milwaukee.
The Brewers signed both Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal to this offseason, and the signings proved to advantageous for the club. Especially on offense. Behind Christian Yelich, Moustakas and Grandal were the second and third best producers on the team. Grandal hit a career-high 28 homers and Moustakas was second to Yelich for the most total bases (270).
In Tuesday’s wild card game, Brandon Woodruff got sent out as the Brewers starter and threw four innings, with his only run coming from Trea Turner’s solo homer. Milwaukee got one inning from Brent Sutter, two innings from Drew Pomeranz and they needed just two more from All-Star closer Josh Hader. Hader recorded 37 saves and led MLB relievers in strikeouts with 138, but his command was off on Tuesday and that’s when things began to unravel in the eighth inning.
Out of the 10 postseason teams, the Brewers when it came to their pitching staff. Manager Craig Counsell continued to rely on the bullpen-heavy strategy he used in last year’s postseason. In their 10 playoff games in 2018, the Brewers averaged less than 3 1/3 innings from their starters. Losing Corey Knebel to as well as the of Jeremy Jeffress put more pressure on the Brewers to find production from every pitcher on their staff. Coming off a magical 2018 season in which the Brewers won the NL Central title after defeating the Cubs in a Game 163 tiebreaker, and came within a game of the World Series after pushing the Dodgers to , Milwaukee followed up with another playoff run. The run that pushed the Brewers into October came without the team’s best player, Christian Yelich.
Moustakas and Grandal stand out; will they return?
In his age-30 season, Moustakas’ bat was as consistent as ever, and he was versatile in the field for the Brewers, recording over 300 innings at second base. Grandal, 30, was solid all season-long but especially clutch during Milwaukee’s playoff push in September. The catcher led the team with seven home runs in the season’s final month. Their unconventional pitching plan had worked for almost the entirely of the game, but with the swing of Soto’s bat, the club’s season was on the brink of ending much earlier than they hoped. Before Soto’s three-run scoring at-bat, the Brewers were just four outs away from advancing to their second straight NLDS. In the ninth inning, Nats closer Daniel Hudson only had to face four batters (11 pitches) to secure the save. The dramatic turnaround echoed a similar accomplishment the Nationals pulled off during the regular season, when the club went from 12 games under .500 in May to the top wild card spot. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ magic run to the postseason, without their MVP, fell apart in just one inning.