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The Milwaukee Brewers are not the most rewarding baseball team to follow. The Brewers have not played in the postseason since 2011 and have only made four playoff appearances in franchise history. Even so, this historically futility is also why it’s oddly fun to root for the Brew Crew. Legitimate playoff runs are like seeing Halley’s Comet and playoff appearances are like landing on the Moon.

The Brewers are on the cusp of a somewhat unexpected playoff appearance in what was expected to be a rebuilding year. After securing their 7th consecutive series win Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, the Brewers look primed to make a deep playoff run. Making the playoffs is obviously the first order of business and the Brewers have an affinity for late-season collapses, so any optimism should be tempered. The good news is there are multiple paths to the playoffs, even if the Crew need to scuffle their way there. Let’s take a look at the Crew’s path to playoff appearance #5.

Winning the Wild Card: The Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers are the top three contenders for the NL Wild Card.

The Brewers currently have a 3.0 game lead on St. Louis for the top wild card spot, meaning Milwaukee would host the wild card game. Playing St. Louis is not the preferred outcome because the Cardinals have a history of thwarting our infrequent shots at glory. The Brewers also have a 4.0 game lead on the Dodgers, giving the Crew a nice cushion with 15 games to go.

The next six days set up favorably for the Crew. The Brewers host the 72-73 Pittsburgh Pirates and 63-84 Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile the Cardinals host the Dodgers for the next three games, allowing the Brewers to benefit regardless of the outcomes in St. Louis. After that series the Dodgers will host the NL West-leading Colorado Rockies and the Cardinals will travel to play the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. Given this setup, if the Brewers go 4-2 on this upcoming homestand they could be a virtual lock for the playoffs.

Winning the NL Central: Making the playoffs is infinitely better than not making the playoffs. However, winning the division is at least three times as good at winning the wild card because division winners are guaranteed to play least three games. In this case there is also the added bonus of besting the Chicago Cubs.

The Brewers currently trail the Cubs by 1.5 games for the division lead. The Cubs have a remaining schedule that is both favorable and unfavorable. Their next series is a three game set against the Reds at Wrigley Field. After that they travel to Arizona for three games against the fading Arizona Diamondbacks and then will head to the south side for another three games against the Chicago White Sox. However, the Cubs only have one remaining off day this season and have not had an off day since August 20th.

The final playoff push starts today. Giddy up.