How the Brewers have made themselves Cardinals’ toughest opponent
The Brewers are even more potent than the St. Louis Cardinals likely thought.
Entering the season, the consensus among insiders was that the Milwaukee Brewers would present the biggest challenge to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. I was one of those people, going as far to predict that the Brewers would actually win the division.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying that I was right. We are not even 20 games into the regular season. But what I am saying is that I may have underestimated just how good the Brewers are and that should be of great concern to the Cardinals.
The Brewers are coming off a sweep of the San Diego Padres, who many believe are the only team that can compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They overpowered them with pitching. They had timely offense and put together good at-bats. They looked like the far superior team. And they did it without Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Kolten Wong, widely considered to be among their three best players.
Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are a big reason for their strong surge to start the season. Burnes has a 40-to-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first four outings and has looked like the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Woodruff is very good in his own right. Pairing them with a bullpen that features Josh Hader and Devin Williams, two of the best relievers in baseball, makes the Brewers an increasingly scary opponent.
The good news for the Cardinals is that while the Brewers have outplayed them to start the season, and even took the first series at Busch Stadium, is that they’re only three games back in the division. It is a deficit that they can easily make up in a week if they get hot and the Brewers skid. But first, they’ll need Paul Goldschmidt and others in the lineup to step up in order to catch them, something the team is optimistic will happen at some point, perhaps even soon.
But the Brewers are for real and considering how they’re currently playing, the Cardinals can ill afford to let them get any further ahead in the division.