Brewer fans, let them break your hearts
By Jamie Wianecki
It sucks when you favorite team sucks. It really really sucks when your least favorite team is good. See the past few seasons as a Brewer fan. In 2015 Brewer fans dodged a bullet when the Cubs lost in the NLCS to the Mets who proved that young pitching is more valuable than young hitting. I thought Brewer fans were in the clear from the Cubs winning the World Series with this group because the Mets were also young and would have the Cubs’ number. But the Mets faltered badly in 2016, didn’t even make it past the Wild Card game against the Giants.
The reality for Brewer fans is the Brewers are struggling mightily right now, lost 6 of their last 7 games and are 10-18 since the All-Star break, but fans have been so invested from the hot start and being in first place for most of May through July. So what do you do as a Brewer fan, continue to let the Brewers break your heart or start cheering for the Cardinals or Pirates?
The Brewers have played well above what we expected. They are currently 60-59; however, they were only projected to win in the 60s by most. All the excitement of being in first place has more to do with the disappointing start by the Chicago Cubs. The Brewers were at their peak at the All-Star break, 5.5 games ahead of the second place Cubs with a 50-41 record. At the All-Star break last season, the Cubs were 53-35, which if the Cubs were to play at that pace again this year, the Brewers would have been in second place. If you don’t think it’s fair to compare this year’s Brewers against last season’s Cubs because they played out of their minds last season, that’s okay. But the Brewers also caught a break by being in the NL Central as well, because if they were in either of the other two NL divisions, the wouldn’t be in first either. As a matter of fact, if they were in the NL West they would have been in 4th!
Currently the Cubs sit atop the NL Central with a 60-55 record, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals (zero games back but have a lower winning percentage) with both the Brewers and Pirates only 2 and 3 games out respectively. At this time last season, the Cubs were 73-41, 14 games over the second place Cardinals. The Brewers are a drastically different team this year compared to last season, but last season at this time they were 51-63, 22 games out of first place in the NL Central—virtually no chance of making the playoffs. As the Brewers continue to struggle post-All-Star break, it appears a playoff run isn’t imminent; however, it’s still within reach. The Brewers didn’t make any major deals at the non-waiver trade deadline, while the Cubs spent a lot on Carlos Quintana. It was pretty obvious the Cubs were going to get out of their funk—especially since they had zero everyday players involved in the All-Star festivities, so they got a full five days rest.
To answer my question from earlier, do we let the Brewers break our hearts or start cheering for the Cardinals or Pirates? I am going to let them break my heart, for the moment. I want to see Orlando Arcia take over the team. I want to see Eric Thames and Travis Shaw become prominent power hitters in the National League. I want to see Jimmy Nelson become an ace (last start didn't help his cause). I am excited the Brewers made a strong step forward. As much as I was calling Eric Thames an MVP in June, I knew he wasn’t going to finish batting over .300. But it was fun while it lasted. Stearns has set up the Brewers to compete not just next season, but for the next 5-10 seasons with their young stars. I’m glad he didn’t trade Thames or Shaw for prospects because if they don’t make the playoffs this season, which I really hope they do, they will be a strong contender next season.