The Brewers missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after winning 96 games and the NL Central Division in 2011. The St. Louis Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers 19 times in 2016.
2015 Record: 68-94
Against St. Louis in 2016: 3 games April 11-14 @STL, 3 games May 30-June 1 @MIL, 3 games July 1-3 @STL, 3 games July 8-10 @MIL, 3 games August 29-31 @MIL, 4 games September 8-11 @STL
Much like the Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers struggled in a way that the organization has not experienced in quite some time. Their 68 wins in 2015 was the club’s lowest total since winning 67 in 2004.
The Brewers are not that far removed from being one of the NL Central powers, again, very similar to the situation in Cincinnati. In 2008, the Brew Crew made the playoffs as a Wild Card after winning 90 regular season games.
As mentioned, in 2011 the Brewers won 96 games and earned an NLCS berth before falling to our Cardinals amidst that historic World Series run.
The Brewers struggled most of the way in 2013 en route to a 74-88 record. They experienced a mini bounce back in 2014, finishing the year at 82-80 with hope of competing again in 2015.
Obviously, that didn’t happen and the Brewers cleared some pretty big names from their payroll last summer as well as this off season.
If anything, the cases of the Reds and Brewers are perfect illustrations of how quickly things can go from good to bad in baseball. It should serve as a reminder of how privileged we have been as Cardinal fans over the past decade.
The Brewers have no idea what they will get from their pitching staff in 2016. Bigger-name starters like Wily Peralta and Matt Garza turned in a couple of the worst seasons of their careers last season. In 2015, Peralta went 5-10 with a 4.80 ERA while Garza went 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA.
There are no defined roles in the Milwaukee bullpen entering camp, and it will be interesting to see what some of the younger arms like Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress and former Cardinal Michael Blazek are capable of in higher-leverage situations this year.
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Outside of Jonathan Lucroy, Braun, Carter and arguably Aaron Hill, there aren’t any established big league bats in the Brewers lineup. A team that finished 22nd in runs scored a season ago will look to youngsters like Rymer Liriano, Jonathan Villar, Scooter Gennett, and Domingo Santana for some sort of offensive uptick in 2016.
If the Brewers have any advantage going forward in the NL Central, it has to be how young they’ve become. Of the Brewers projected Opening Day starting nine, the average age is just 26-years-old.
The fact that the Brewers can get some of these younger talents an advanced number of at-bats this year should pay dividends down the road, if they can keep the group together.
Anyhow, again similar to the Reds, 2016 looks to be a full-blown talent evaluation/rebuilding type of a year for the Brew Crew. I just don’t see them getting anything that resembles consistent pitching, and their young guys are understandably going to experience some lumps as they adjust to full-time Major League duties.
A season ago, the Cardinals won the season series with the Brewers by a count of 13-6. Anything less that that would be a disappointment in 2016, unless something crazy happens and Milwaukee comes out firing.
Interestingly, the Cardinals are just 47-42 against the Brewers at Busch Stadium III over the past decade. On the flip side, they are 48-32 playing in Milwaukee over that same time period.
With those numbers in mind, I am going to pick St. Louis to win just six of ten at home against the Brewers while winning seven of nine in Milwaukee. That would add up to a 13-6 season series win once again.