At a certain level, it has to be tempting for Brewers manager Dale Sveum to just start C.C. Sabathia every game of this series. Obviously, that's not actually feasible, but who cares about Sabathia's future? The Brewers are losing him anyway. Ride the guy until he dies. Let the Yankees pay the price three years from now. Series Schedule Game 1: Wednesday, October 1, 3 p.m. Milwaukee (???) at Philadelphia (Hamels). Game 2: Thursday, October 2, 6 p.m. Milwaukee (???) at Philadelphia (???). Game 3: Saturday, October 4, 6:30 p.m. Philadelphia (???) at Milwaukee (???). Game 4 (if necessary): Sunday, October 5, Time TBD. Philadelphia at Milwaukee. Game 5 (if necessary): Tuesday, October 7, Time, TBD. Milwaukee at Philadelphia. SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PHILLIES-BREWERS SERIES 1. Seriously, That Really Is Dale Sveum Managing The Brewers. Of all the potential Steve Fisher/Phil Garner interim-to-pennant-winner candidates, Sveum has to be considered the least likely. Ask any Red Sox fan about Sveum's epic incompetence at waving runners home from third base; you had to wonder if he was just flipping a coin, Two Face style, and randomly flapping his arms accordingly. And now he's 11 wins away from a World Series title. If that happens, Bob Brenly will be displaced as Worst Manager To Win A World Series, and, once again, we'll have more proof that managers don't really do a thing.
2. This Is It For The Brewers. Sure, Ryan Braun's gonna be around for a while, and Corey Hart and his ilk are serviceable. But, much like the Astros (though not as stupidly), Milwaukee placed all its bets on this season. Sabathia's gone after the year — and, with Matt LaPorta already knocking the ball around in Cleveland, at no small price — and it's unlikely they'll be able to sign Ben Sheets either. And you get the sense Prince Fielder's "old player skills" are going to offer diminishing returns as well. They're going to look extremely different next year than they do now. If they go out early, you have to wonder if it was worth it.
3. Brett Myers Is Unstable As A Pitcher As Well. When Brett Myers hasn't been busy punching his wife in the face, he has been having one of the more bipolar years in recent memory. His struggles early in the season were so profound that he was sent to the minor leagues. When he returned, he was dominant, going 7–2 with a 1.80 ERA heading into September. Then, this month, he's been awful again. It's almost as if the guy has wild mood swings or something. Just a theory. The Phillies are an extremely likable team, but you can be forgiven if you pull against them in Game 2.
4. Listen To Beltran. Just for fun, let's hark back to Carlos Beltran's words in the preseason: "Without Santana, we felt, as a team, that we had a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we're going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We've got what it takes. To Jimmy Rollins: We are the team to beat." One might forgive a Phillies fan for taking a little joy — again — in watching the Mets' implosion. But they're not ones to gloat.
(Photo via New York Daily News) 5. Never Forget. Yes, yes, Brad Lidge has been amazing this year. He hasn't blown a save all season, and he generally looks like unhittable, like he did in the glory days of Houston. But let us not forget what happened to Lidge the last time he was in the postseason. Of course, everybody remembers this:
But let's not also look past what happened in that World Series: Lidge lost two games, including the decisive Game 4, in which he gave up the lone run in a 1-0 loss. That postseason devastated him for two seasons, and he's just now back to form. But the postseason punishes the fragile. How much will he sweat when facing Ryan Braun with a one-run lead and a runner on in the bottom of the ninth? Could he handle that again?
6. The Brewers Aren't Particularly Likable. You have to be happy for Brewers fans, who have waited 26 years for a return to the postseason. But you don't necessarily have to like this team, which, in the opinion of this Cardinals fan, have taunted, showboated and chest-pounded to a rather excessive amount for a team that, until yesterday, had never won a damned thing. (Whatever my thoughts on the Cubs franchise, their players act like they've been there before.) I know, I know: Complaining about baseball etiquette is the last refuge of the elderly, jilted, crotchety fan. I'm pretty certain that I'm only acting out of emotion and am 100 percent wrong. But still: I'm not the only person who feels this way.
7. If The Brewers Can Win Early, Look Out. The Brewers' rotation is a shambles right now, other than Sabathia of course, but sometimes, Sabathia is enough. He'll never be this good again, but this moment, Sabathia's pretty much a superman. If the Brewers can get away with throwing him just once this series and still win, he could start Game 1 of the NLCS. If Sveum was willing to throw him on three days rest in Game 4 — which of course he will be — he'd get three starts in the series. That would scare anybody ... especially the Cubs.
PREDICTION The Brewers have done everything they can to blow this season, and, somehow, they still couldn't find a way to do it. Why should the NLDS be any different? Brewers in 5.