In an attempt to determine the difficulty of the remaining schedule I took all remaining Brewer games and dumped them into a spreadsheet, looked up the run differential of the opponent (because we all know that run differential tells you more about the quality of the team than wins and losses, right?) and popped that number in the next column. Then I added those up, and took an average.* Not really sure what to call this “metric” or how useful it is, but I found it illuminating. So here goes:
*For example, the Brewers play the Dodgers 6 more times and the Dodgers have a +58 run differential, so they count for +348 of the total. Make sense? Good.
Remaining opponents have scored 93 more runs than they have allowed, an average of +1.75 per game. Tough opponents include the Dodgers (six games, +58), Blue Jays (two games, +38) and Giants (six games, +19), but what really hurts them is the lack of awful teams. They have a bunch of games against the Cubs (-46) but so does everyone else. They have three against the Padres (-39) but the Cards have five. The only negatives on the Brewers schedule are the Cubs, Padres, and Marlins. Maybe in a vacuum +93 doesn’t sound like a lot to you. Well…
Remaining opponents have scored 816 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -14.57 per game.
The Cardinal schedule is just littered with awfulness. Three games with Boston (-50), five more with the Padres (-39), three with the Phillies (-59), three with the Rockies (-54), and three with the D-backs (-73…Gritty!). The toughest task ahead for them is a three-game series with the Orioles (+30) and after that the best team they have is the Brewers (+24 as I write this). If the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs they have no one to blame but themselves.
Remaining opponents have scored 322 fewer runs than they have allowed, an average of -5.75 per game.
The ease of the Pirates schedule is bolstered by a stretch in September where they will play thirteen consecutive games against teams at -46 or lower (Cubs, Phillies, Cubs, Red Sox), but at least there are a few challenges out there. They still have a four-game series with the Tigers (+36), a three-game series with the Nationals (+71) and seven against the Braves (+22). They also face the Diamondbacks and the Padres, so it’s really all over the map.
Remaining opponents have scored 295 fewer runs than they’ve allowed, an average of -5.27 per game.
Similar to the Pirates but not as extreme. They get two against Boston (-50) and four against the Rockies (-54), but everyone else is middling. They face Cleveland (+3), Miami (-17), and have three at Baltimore (+30).
The Cardinals have a much easier schedule down the stretch, there’s no getting around it. The Brewers will probably have to win the head-to-head battle by a decent margin to hold them off. Hopefully they get started this weekend.