When Christian Yelich fouled a ball off of his kneecap on Sept. 10, the Milwaukee Brewers’ season looked doomed.
Staying in the wild-card race was supposed to be tough without the reigning NL MVP, but not only did they stay in it, their scorching September has the Brewers in the hunt for a second straight National League Central title.
Coming off a sweep of the Cincinnati Red, Milwaukee heads west to face the Colorado Rockies for the final three games of the season. The Brewers trail St. Louis by a game in the division; the Cardinals host the Chicago Cubs this weekend.
Milwaukee (89-70) needs at least one win from Chicago to have a chance to catch St. Louis, which seemed far-fetched 17 days ago but is a reality heading to Colorado.
The Brewers, who already have clinched a playoff berth, also trail the Washington Nationals by one game in the race for the NL’s first wild card. The Nationals completed a five-game series sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a win on Thursday.
“We made it so it’s a big weekend in Denver,” manager Craig Counsell said after Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. “We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. We need some help. It’s an uphill climb with three games to go, but we’ve given ourselves a chance. To get it to one game with three to play, you feel like you definitely put some heat on the Cardinals.”
Milwaukee has put itself in this position with a 20-4 record in September, and has won 18 of 20 since Yelich was hurt.
Counsell will send Zach Davies to the mound on Friday night to start the three-game series. Davies (10-7, 3.61 ERA) will go against Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela (10-11, 6.90), who is trying to even his record in his last start of the season.
Davies will be making his fourth career start against Colorado but his first ever in Denver. In his previous three starts against the Rockies, he is 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA.
Senzatela will make his third career start against the Brewers, but he doesn’t have a decision in his first two outings against them despite a 2.00 ERA in those starts. Like Davies, he has not faced Friday’s opponent in Denver — both of his starts came at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Colorado (68-91) has a dual goal for this weekend — impact the playoff seeding in the National League and salvage the last series of 2019. The Rockies reached the playoffs the previous two seasons and will play their last game against Milwaukee for the second straight year.
The Brewers swept them in the NL Division Series in 2018, with the clinching game coming in Denver on a cold day.
Colorado was expecting to be back in the postseason this year and looked in a strong position in late June but has gone 28-57 since to lose 90 games for the first time since losing 94 in 2015. A Milwaukee sweep this weekend would equal that 2015 mark.
Despite the disappointing stretch, the Rockies are still playing scrappy ball. They went 16 innings and beat the San Francisco Giants with Charlie Blackmon’s three-run homer on Tuesday night but missed a chance to get their first road series win since June with an 8-3 loss to the Giants on Thursday.
“Our guys really try hard and they care, and every pitch, every at-bat counts,” Blackmon said.
–Field Level Media