An MLB Death March?

July 14, 2011

I was thinking  about two upcoming trips. Both begin Thursday. Both show promise. The question is whether each can avoid becoming a Death March. 

The Brewers are enbroiled in a war with the St Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. Only one of the three will play in the post season. It is a whole new season.

And the Brewers begin this new season on the road. Their trip will take them from Colorado to Arizona to San Francisco. So far this year the Brewers have gone 7-5 against those three. Not bad. But then 9 of the 12 were at Miller Park.  

The Brewers have the best home record in the National League (33-14). Unfortunately, they have the worst road record in the league (16-29). Heck, if the Brewers had the Padres’ road record (21-25) they would be back in Milwaukee printing playoff tickets.

Well, OK. You get it. They don’t have to play 50% ball on the road to have a 5-6 game lead to win the division.

What explains the disparity? Who knows? It’s enough to be alarming.

And it could get worse. The Rockies have been average  at home (22-22).  But Arizona (23-19) and San Francisco (28-16) defend the house very well.

And where are the Cards and Reds starting the second half? The two first go to the Queen City. They hate each other. It’s either good for the Brewers or LaRussa’s guys get a leg up in the tightest of divisions.

The Cards then go to NYC to meet the Mets (what’s left of them) before playing the Pirates (and let’s not forget the Pirates). All of the three series are on the road.  

The Reds travel to Pittsburgh and go back home versus Atlanta. Atlanta is a playoff team but I’m not sure anyone “travels” from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. Mark Twain’s characters may be. Advantage Reds. 

The point is the Brewers get the daunting  schedule. They travel the furthest. They have the longest stretch. And they are already the worst road club in the league.

I could be wrong. I often am. But it seems the Rockies often beat the Crew. And I know the D-backs have been beating the Brewers both home and away. Maybe the Brewers will finish a long trip by winning a series against the Giants. Sure.

The Brewers will welcome the chance to come home and host the Cubs. Well, may be. The Cubs have beaten them 5 of 7.

A promising season could be over in a week.

Meanwhile my family travels this weekend for 4 days  in the Wisconsin Dells.  It’s an annual get-together with the extended family. Her extended family. Getting smacked around by the Rockies doesn’t sound too bad.

The Brewers have played only 31 games into a 162 game season. They have a dismal record, 13-18. Still it’s been only 31 games. The Crews’ poor start has to be put into perspective.

First, there are still 131 games to go. Of course, that’s 131 games of 162. By my math 20% of the season is over.

No problem. It’s not how many games they play. It’s a matter of how many they win. Assuming a final record of 90-72, a club would have a winning percentage of .555. Hey, you don’t have to be the Big Red Matheen to hit that target.

Of course, with a start of 13-18, the Brewers would have to go 77-54 or a winning percentage of .587. Not easy. 

Forget the pure math. A winning percentage among the NL Central clubs should be enough. Although .555 might be just a little shy in the division based upon the past 2 years – Cincy in 2010 (.562) and St. Louis in 2009 (.562). And the Cards are at .563. So 90 wins might be just a little short.

Only the Cubs pierced the .565 the division’s winning percentage barrier in recent years. Chicago had a .602 winning percentage in 2008. The Brewers finished that season with a .556 winning percentage and a Wild Card invite to Philly.

A Wild Card finish this season could be possible but for the 5 or more contenders. At this point, based upon winning percentage, you can ID the Marlins (don’t laff), Braves (just swept the Brewers 4 in Atlanta), Reds (2010 Division Champs), and Giants (just World Champs). Then add the current division leaders – Phillies, Cards and Rockies. That’s 8 clubs including the Brewers.

That’s crowded. OK. Forget the Wild Card. Back to winning the division.

The Brewers are just 5 games behind the division lead! Sure, they are barely ahead of the Astros and have to climb over the Cubs, Pirates and Reds to get to the Cardinals. They won’t be in a two-team race for a month like the 1951 Giants and Dodgers (or even the Giants and Padres).  

But they do visit St. Louis this weekend for 3 games. Despite losing 6 in a row against the Astros and Braves, the Crew could turn it around. They might collect some two-out hits. Some one other than Braun and Fielder might drive in a run. May be none of them won’t get caught on the bases, booting the ball or throwing to the wrong base. Perhaps their bullpen won’t melt down. Maybe they can turn it around.

Forget the records and play. May be they can get 2 of 3.

It’s baseball. There are 131 games left. It’s a long season……