2018 Milwaukee Brewers
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2018 Milwaukee Brewers / Franchise: Milwaukee Brewers / BR Team Page
Clinched Division: October 1, 2018, At Chicago Cubs
Managed by Craig Counsell
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2018 Milwaukee Brewers entered the season with optimism after playing well enough in 2017 to be in contention for a wild card spot until the last days of the season. Most observers agreed, as they were generally pinned to be wild card contenders in the NL Central, although few went as far as to predict a division title. They started the season well enough, with a record of 17-13 at the end of April, even if that only placed them third in the division at that point as a tight four-team race was developing, with only the Cincinnati Reds out of the picture. They turned on the afterburners in May, however, and after a couple of brief stays in first place early in the month, reached first on May 13th for a prolonged period, as they continued winning after that. On May 22nd, they were the first National League team to reach 30 wins, and by winning their next game as well, they registered the best 50-game start in franchise history at 31-19. They had built a three-game lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates at that point, with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs also within striking distance, at 3 1/2 and 4 games back respectively.
One of the biggest contributors to the Brewers' fast start was reliever Josh Hader, who was striking out batters at an amazing rate (58 in his first 30 innings), while his bullpen-mates Jeremy Jeffress and Matt Albers had ERA's of 0.35 and 1.17. This had helped the Brewers overcome the loss of closer Corey Knebel, who had only appeared in 9 of the team's first 50 games. Manager Craig Counsell had not felt the need to designate a closer when Knebel was unavailable, as five different pitchers had recorded saves already. The offensive leaders were 3B Travis Shaw, who had 12 homers, and CF Lorenzo Cain, who was having a great all-around season after signing on as a free agent in the off-season. On May 26th, the Brewers won a game by a score of 17-6 over the New York Mets, the most runs they had scored since 2010.
The Brewers managed to stay in the NL Central race all season, never falling too far out, but never managing to build much of a lead either. On September 26th, a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals guaranteed them a spot in the postseason for the first time since 2011. They were still a half-game behind the Cubs with four games left to play, so it was still up in the air which of the two teams would have home field advantage throughout the postseason, and which one would host the Wild Card Game. A couple other player had emerged as leaders in the second half, namely OF Christian Yelich, making a strong bid for the MVP Award, and reliever Jeremy Jeffress who had emerged as a reliable closer in place of Knebel, with Hader doing the set-up work. The lack of a dominant starting pitcher was seen as the Brewers' Achilles' heel, however.
The season went down to the wire, as the Brewers managed to reach a first-place tie with the Cubs on the penultimate day of the season. Yelich was again the hero, homering twice to lead Milwaukee to a 6-5 win over the Detroit Tigers while the Cubs lost to the Cardinals. As both teams won their final game, Milwaukee cruising to an 11-0 win over Detroit , they had to play a one-game playoff in Wrigley Field on October 1st to determine who would finish with the best record in the NL, and who would host the Wild Card Game.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Jesus Aguilar, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Christian Yelich
- NL MVP: Christian Yelich
- NL Silver Slugger Award: Christian Yelich (OF)
- Trevor Hoffman Award: Josh Hader
- Associated Press: "Yelich, Brewers beat Cubs 3-1 for NL Central title" ESPN.com, October 1, 2018
- Associated Press: "Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich boost Brewers with glove, bat", USA Today Sports, March 22, 2018. 
- Tom Haudricourt: "Brewers showed you can have constant flux in starting rotation and still play in October", Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, October 10, 2018. 
- Tom Haudricourt: Special Brew - An Inside Look at the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers, KCI Sports Publishing, Stevens Point, WI, 2019. ISBN 978-1940056753
- Richard Justice: "Brewers' positive energy still thriving this spring", mlb.com, March 11, 2018. 
- Gabe Lacques: "The Milwaukee Brewers aren't bad for baseball - and they'd be worthy foes for the Red Sox", USA Today, October 19, 2018. 
- Adam McCalvy: "Can restocked Brewers play up to expectations? Crew added Cain, Yelich to surprising core with hopes of reaching postseason", mlb.com, March 8, 2018. 
- Adam McCalvy: "Attanasio discusses Crew's Deadline moves", mlb.com, August 2, 2018. 
- Adam McCalvy: "The Top 10 Brewers Moments of 2018", mlb.com, September 26, 2018. 
- Adam McCalvy: "Brewers' quick rebuild built on strong foundation: GM Stearns retained organizational core, made savvy signings and trades to build winner", mlb.com, October 2, 2018. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Under pressure: Cubs, Brewers meet again Monday with NL Central title on line", USA Today, September 30, 2018. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Brewers, hungry to end seven-year playoff drought, seized the offseason and expect to win", USA Today Sports, February 21, 2018. 
- Mike Petriello: "The surprising trades that built the Brewers", mlb.com, October 9, 2018.