By Mike Corasaniti
The Milwaukee Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays have never been considered poster teams for postseason success.
The Brewers are still one of eight teams in the entire league to have never won a World Series and Toronto hasn’t seen playoff baseball since their second World Series win in 1993.Two hot months of baseball for the respective clubs though have given hope to some weary fan bases.
A Word on Milwaukee
The Brewers have come down to earth a little after starting scorching hot out of the gate to start the season. Their divisional lead over St. Louis sis constantly in flux, but series wins over the Orioles and Cubs have seemingly put the Brewers back on track. Upcoming series against Minnesota and Pittsburgh should only add to the gap their working on in between them and the Cardinals.
But if Milwaukee wants to distance themselves from the role of dark horse and into the contender ranks for 2014, there are few issues they will need to address.
Ryan Braun’s productivity has been a concern for Milwaukee all season. But even battling injury, the Brewers have seen some of his power come back in a major way which is an important and promising sign going forward. Milwaukee’s team batting average hovering around .260 is a good thing, but they’ll need bats like Braun’s to keep it there.
From the mound, the Brewer pitching staff has been nothing but a pleasant surprise so far for Milwaukee. Francisco Rodriguez is looking like the closer he has the potential to be, and Kyle Lohse and his seven wins have become a solid leader for the rotation. If the supporting cast, like the ever-improving Wily Peralta and his 2.73 ERA, can continue to shut down offenses then they could be throwing well into the postseason.
A Word on Toronto
North of the border there is a very different division leading team that has given itself a comfortable division lead after a surprisingly fruitful start.
May was very good to the Blue Jays as Jose Bautista provided his typical productivity from the plate and Edwin Encarnacion exploded for 16 home runs. And with Melky Cabrera on pace to finish the season with more than 200 hits, Toronto’s bats are among the hottest in all of baseball.
If there is anything that could bring down the Blue Jays it’s a lack of depth in their rotation, which is strange to say for a staff that has one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Mark Buehrle, who at the age of 35 is showing some of the best stuff he’s ever shown, is on pace to start this season’s All-Star Game in Minnesota. If Toronto can find support from more than just Buehrle and a knuckleballer named Dickey it will coast comfortably an AL East title and be able to set it’s sights on a much larger prize.
The Brewers are one of the most interesting teams in baseball right now, mostly because they may be the most difficult to figure out. At times they have shown elite stuff and at others they have slumped into a team looking like it could be irrelevant come August.
The Blue Jays on the other hand are looking more like a team who has finally figured out how to get over the hump it has been facing down for the past few promising – but ultimately disappointing – seasons. They are baseball’s hottest team right now, and they are showing that they just may have the depth to keep it going past the end of the season.
Blue Jays in 5