The Milwaukee Brewers have operated like the Kansas City Royals, National League Edition for a few years now. No, not the current Royals—a team with eight decent players and so much riff-raff that they suffered their second 100-loss season in a row—the Golden Age Royals of 2013-2015. Some of that has been their usage of two future Royals Hall of Famers: Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain. But it goes beyond that.
Last year, the Brewers forced their way to game seven of the NLCS through timely hitting, excellent defense, and a shutdown bullpen that locked down games early. They did so against better opponents, refusing to go away or back down. This year, despite operating in a division with the ever-competent St. Louis Cardinals and a good Chicago Cubs team, they managed to squeak into the playoffs through sheer force of will once more after losing the defending NL MVP Christian Yelich to an injury. Yelich is done for the year.
The Brewers will face the Bryce Harper-less Washington Nationals. After spending much of the year in a bit of no-man’s land, the Nationals won eight straight games to end the season and seize the first Wild Card slot. If they can get out of this game, their top three starters—Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin—are poised to make a truly excellent playoff rotation. Meanwhile, Juan Soto is a superstar in the making, and Anthony Rendon is a legitimate MVP candidate.
Whoever wins will get a chance to play the 100-win Los Angeles Chargers in the NLDS.