ST. LOUIS -- As of Tuesday, the National League Wild Card Game was one short week away. But the Brewers are pushing the roster and strategy planning that would accompany a potential appearance in that win-or-go-home affair until this weekend at the earliest.For one, they had not clinched anything yet.
ST. LOUIS -- As of Tuesday, the National League Wild Card Game was one short week away. But the Brewers are pushing the roster and strategy planning that would accompany a potential appearance in that win-or-go-home affair until this weekend at the earliest.
For one, they had not clinched anything yet. And they still had hope of winning the NL Central.
"Look, I think you think about possibilities in your head, certainly," manager Craig Counsell said. "But things change enough where it's easier to wait. I think you end up wasting a lot of breath on stuff that doesn't happen if you do it the other way.
"As we get into the weekend, we have to prepare for everything. We have to prepare for what's first, and a Wild Card situation would be first. We would have to prepare for that as we get to Thursday, Friday."
First things first.
"Our focus at this point is really, 'Let's get through this series [against the Cardinals] and see where we are,'" said Brewers GM David Stearns. "We have an off-day on Thursday, which gives us a nice time to regroup, take stock of the situation and plot out how we want to handle this weekend, and if we're fortunate enough to make the playoffs, how we want to handle any rosters going forward. We've been talking on and off."
Obviously, the preferred path to October is winning the division and avoiding the stress of a Wild Card Game. The Brewers have plenty of players who know that firsthand, including three participants in the Royals' epic, 12-inning win over the A's in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game. Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain played in that game for Kansas City (Erik Kratz was on that Royals team, too), and Stephen Vogt played for the A's.
"It was incredible," said Moustakas. "We talk about it all the time. I have no idea [what the score was]. Honestly, people ask me questions about that game and I don't remember anything. It was such a blur. It was unbelievable."
Joakim Soria (2015 Pirates), Jonathan Schoop (2016 Orioles) and Curtis Granderson (2016 Mets) have also appeared in Wild Card Game box scores.
Ryan Braun has not, since the Brewers' last postseason appearance in 2011 came in the year preceding the introduction of the second Wild Card in each league. But he made the case Monday night that chasing the Cubs in the division while trying to hold off the Cardinals and other clubs in the Wild Card race will help Milwaukee should the team find itself in a Wild Card contest.
"I think Ryan is right," Counsell said. "We've tried to treat these games in a manner closer to how a playoff series or a Wild Card Game would be treated. But a Wild Card Game is a nine-inning season. That's literally how you have to treat it. It's a nine-inning baseball season. That's totally different."
The NL Wild Card Game will air on ESPN. The precise time of the first pitch is to be announced.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.