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Opinion: These Milwaukee Brewers are for real

Jay Sorgi's blog
Opinion: These Milwaukee Brewers are for real
Posted at 9:26 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 15:07:10-04

We're guessing you weren't saying in March that the Milwaukee Brewers would be the first team in the National League to 30 wins.

But entering game 50 of the year against the Arizona Diamondbacks (11:35 a.m. Wednesday on WTMJ), that is where they stand:
- With a 30-19 record
- With a 2.5 game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals and a three-game lead on the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates
- With the second-best record in the National League (only surpassed by the Atlanta Braves with a .005 lead on them)
- With the fifth-best record in all of Major League Baseball (the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros surpass them)
- With a 9-4 record against any 2017 playoff team not named the Chicago Cubs.

All that without the services at different times of core starting pitchers like Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, relievers like Corey Knebel and position playing stalwarts like Ryan Braun and Eric Thames amidst a long list of injuries.

However, it's with the services of insane depth at positions lost (all stats courtesy Baseball Reference):
- 1B Jesus Aguilar: .967 OPS, 7 HR and 20 RBI
- 3B Travis Shaw: .828 OPS, 11 HR and 28 RBI
- P Junior Guerra: 3-3, 2.98 ERA
- P Brent Suter: 3-3, 4.72 ERA
- P Freddy Peralta: 1-0, 3.72 ERA before being sent back to AAA Colorado Springs

Plus, it's with the bullpen-by-committee approach that Craig Counsell has worked to insane brilliance.

With the pen filled with super-reliever Josh Hader (2-0, 1.23 ERA, six saves and 58 strikeouts - nearly a two strikeout-per-inning ratio) and four other pitchers with winning records (Matt Albers, Oliver Drake, Jeremy Jeffress, and Dan Jennings), this bullpen may be the best in baseball.

So far, it appears the only soil on their otherwise pristine season is their current issue beating the Chicago Cubs.

They are 1-7 against the Chicago northsiders. They are 29-12 against the rest of Major League Baseball.

Extrapolating that over 162 games, that would lead to a season record of:
- 3-17 against Chicago
- 100-42 against the rest of MLB
- Total record: 103-59

That's not so bad. 

OK, that's an understatement. That ridiculously good. Like best-record-in-Brewers-history good, seven wins more than the current record holder of 2011, and the second best MLB season record since 2004.

Should we expect 103 wins from this team? No.

But should we expect them to only win three times against the Cubs? No.

It seems probable that for the Brewers to reach the ultimate destination of a World Series title (heady stuff for a franchise that has never won one and hasn't made the playoffs in seven years), they may have to defeat the Cubs in the postseason. They will need to find a way to overcome their current slump against that team whose fans love to invade Miller Park.

Of course, they still have 113 games to play before getting to the postseason, too.

But the fact we're talking about potential impediments to a world championship says something. It says that so far in 2018, this team is for real.