The Milwaukee Brewers are having a fantastic 2021 season.
At 58-42, the team has a seven-game lead in the National League Central division, and barring something unforeseen, the Brewers are going to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) July 24, 2021
Before getting to the playoffs, though, Milwaukee needs to finish the job in the regular season.
By doing these three things, the club should be able to lock up the division title without breaking a sweat.
Let’s get started.
3. Take Care Of Business In Head-To-Head Matchups With Divisional Foes
No matter the circumstances, the quickest way for a team to make up ground on an opponent in the standings is by beating them head-to-head.
The Brewers are well aware of this, and they know that they’re going to have to take care of business against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals down the stretch this season in order to lock up the division title.
The Brewers and Reds will meet for just one more series before the regular season ends, so Milwaukee might be out of the woods in that regard, but the same cannot be said about St. Louis.
The Cardinals will have 13 more chances to gain ground on the Brewers before the season wraps up.
And although the Cardinals are just a .500 club today, it doesn’t sound like they’ll be selling at the deadline.
“I would find that very hard for us to get to that point,” said Cardinals president John Mozeliak when asked about the possibility of selling at the deadline. “First off, our roster isn’t really set up that way. Probably, some of the players who would have the most interest we see as part of our future.”
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s keep in mind that there is an eight-game difference between the Brewers and Cardinals.
That’s a pretty big gap, and in all likelihood, it will be too steep of a mountain for St. Louis to climb.
However, on the off chance that the Cardinals win, say, nine of their 13 head-to-head matchups with Milwaukee, then we’d be looking at a difference of just three games.
So nothing is certain just yet.
2. Trade For A Replacement For Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is in the first season of a two-year deal that he signed with the Brewers prior to the 2021 campaign.
It initially looked like a high upside deal for Milwaukee, but unfortunately, it has not worked out.
Throughout his career, Bradley has never been known for his offense.
Rather, his claim to fame has always been his elite outfield defense.
His battle has always been centered around staying productive enough offensively to justify keeping him in the lineup for his glove.
He hasn’t been able to do so in 2021.
He is batting just .180 with an OPS of .555 and an OPS+ of 50.
He has a -0.8 offensive WAR on the year and has a WRC+ of just 53.
As promised, the 31-year-old has been great defensively, but the Brewers can’t keep his bat in the lineup with the way he’s going right now.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is batting .185 and I remember when Click was crucified for not being aggressive to sign him to a long term deal.
— longhorndave (@longhorndave) July 26, 2021
The team should explore trade options for a replacement.
1. Stay Healthy
Once the trade deadline has come and gone, there is very little you can do to address players who are lost to injuries.
Sure, you can make a minor-league call-up, you can explore the free agent market for a veteran in need of a team, and you can try your hand at making a waiver deal, but those aren’t desirable options.
Once August hits, the stretch run is upon us, and it becomes a survival of the fittest.
Which teams will stay healthy?
Which teams will remain motivated?
Which teams will run out of gas?
If the Brewers feel the need to rest some players every so often in order to preserve them for the remainder of the year, that’s what they should do.
If they feel the need to take extra precautions with players who are dealing with seemingly minor injuries, that’s what they should do.
Of course, the team shouldn’t get too nonchalant with its division lead, but there is some breathing room to work with.
Health should be the top priority from here on out, because injuries are the biggest threat to Milwaukee’s division title hopes.