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Can the Brewers catch the Cardinals?
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Can the Brewers catch the Cardinals? Do you believe in momentum? Ryan Braun said they still have their eyes on more wins -- not just potential home field for the wild-card game against the Washington Nationals, but the division title.

Final week of MLB season on ESPN & ESPN+
Thursday, Sept. 26
Red Sox-Rangers, 2:05 ET, ESPN+
Friday, Sept. 27
Indians-Nationals, 7:05 ET, ESPN+
Saturday, Sept. 28
Orioles-Red Sox, 1:05 ET, ESPN+
Sunday, Sept. 29
Baseball Tonight, 6 ET, ESPN & 7 ET, ESPN2

The tricky issue: How many resources do you expend trying to avoid that wild-card game? Winning the division is huge, but the downfall of burning through Josh Hader and the rest of the bullpen is that you fight to get to a tiebreaker game on Monday, lose that, and then you have a fatigued pitching staff for Tuesday's wild-card game -- when it appears you'll face Stephen Strasburg, with Max Scherzer potentially in relief.

The Brewers have one more game in Cincinnati on Thursday afternoon, then three in Colorado. The Cardinals are off Thursday and host the Cubs for their final three. The Cubs have lost eight in a row and figure to be playing with the emotional urgency of a sloth, but maybe they'll show up to give their rivals some competition. The Rockies are bad and playing out the string. I'd call those matchups a toss-up.

The Brewers are lined up with Chase Anderson, Davies, Brandon Woodruff and Adrian Houser for their final four games. But, really, Counsell is almost managing every contest like a bullpen game these days. The expanded rosters allow him to pull his starters and go early and often to his pen. In September, a Brewers starting pitcher has gone more than 4⅓ innings only eight times in 23 games, more than five innings only three times (twice by Jordan Lyles) and never more than 6⅓.

The Cardinals have Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright slated for their final three games. Keep in mind, however, that red-hot Jack Flaherty also could start Sunday on regular rest.

The Cardinals, of course, are hoping for the best-case scenario: clinch before Sunday, so they don't have to worry about using Flaherty and have him ready to go in Game 1 of the division series against the Braves. My guess is if they're leading by one game on Sunday that they stick with Wainwright and hope to win. If they're tied with the Brewers heading into Sunday? That might force their hand to go with Flaherty to try to win the division title or at least force a tiebreaker on Monday (if both teams win).

If the Brewers do get to a Monday tiebreaker? Lyles' turn would be up, the guy they picked up from the Pirates at the deadline who has gone 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA since the trade -- a deal that didn't exactly rock the news wire at the time but proved to be maybe the biggest pickup of all at the trade deadline.

And if back on Sept. 5 you were told that Jordan Lyles would be in line to potentially start a game to give the Brewers a division title? No, you're right: Nobody would have told you that.

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