Opposite dugout: Brewers trying to make room in crowded playoff race

Manager: Craig Counsell (4th season)
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Record: 75-60

Last 10 games: 7-3

Who to watch: 1B Jesús Aguilar (.277 with 30 HR, 92 RBIs); 3B Travis Shaw (26 HR, 74 RBIs); CF Lorenzo Cain (.309 with 136 hits, 24 SB); OF Christian Yelich (.319 with 151 hits, 75 RBIs); RHP Jhoulys Chacín (13-5, 3.61 ERA); RHP Chase Anderson (9-7, 4.04 ERA); LHP Josh Hader (2.05 ERA, 10 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 2-1

Pitching probables:

Aug. 31: RHP Jhoulys Chacín (13-5) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (8-13); 7:05 p.m., MASN
Sept. 1: RHP Chase Anderson (9-7) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7); 7:05 p.m., MASN
Sept. 2: RHP Junior Guerra (6-9) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (16-6); 1:35 p.m., MASN

Inside the Brewers:

All due respect to the American League, but have you seen the postseason picture in the National League lately? Simply put, it's quite crowded. In the NL East, Atlanta and Philadelphia are battling for first place, with Washington on the outside looking in. Out west, it's a three-team race between Arizona, Colorado and Los Angeles. Meanwhile, in the NL Central, Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee are separated by less than five games. For the Brewers - and frankly for every team in the senior circuit - every series has become a must-win. The Brewers sit 4 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the division lead, but are tied with the Cardinals for the top wild card spot.

Milwaukee's offense is led by NL Most Valuable Player candidate Christian Yelich. Yelich was traded by the Marlins in the offseason, and has certainly enjoyed his first season with the Brewers. Entering last night's action, he led the NL with a .319 batting average and has already established a career high with 26 home runs. That mark is just four behind the team leader, first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar brings the power with 30 home runs, along with a team-leading 92 RBIs. With Yelich and Aguilar grabbing the headlines, it can be easy to overlook the performance of center fielder Lorenzo Cain. Cain is batting .309 this season with 136 hits, 23 doubles and 24 stolen bases. Even with all of this talent in the lineup, the Brewers went out and acquired second baseman Jonathan Schoop at the trade deadline. Schoop has scuffled a bit since leaving Baltimore, hitting just .214 with three home runs. But his addition to the lineup has the Brewers eyeing their first trip to the postseason since 2011.

Jhoulys Chacín starts for the Brewers in tonight's series opener. Chacín has established himself atop Milwaukee's starting rotation, thanks to the best season of his 10-year career. Chacín is 13-5 with a 3.61 ERA, and with a win tonight he would match his single-season high. He faced the Nationals back on July 23, allowing one earned run while striking out nine. Chacín isn't untouchable, though. He's given up five earned runs in three starts this season, including multiple outings where he allowed eight runs. Chase Anderson had a breakout season last year, amassing a 12-4 record and 2.74 ERA. This season, however, the right-hander has struggled to find consistency. He's 9-7 on the year, and has given up four earned runs in three of his last four starts. Still, Anderson is looking to win his third straight decision opposite Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. Junior Guerra will get the start in the series finale. It's been a rough second half of the season for Guerra. After posting a 3.23 ERA in 18 starts before the All-Star break, Guerra is 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA since. If there's a silver lining for Guerra, one of his best starts in the second half came against the Nationals on July 24. That day, he pitched six innings en route to a quality start.

The Brewers' bullpen situation has been a little unsteady lately. Reliever Corey Knebel, who began the year as the team's closer, struggled over the last few weeks, and was just sent down to the minors to get back on track. With Knebel demoted, look for reliever Josh Hader to step into the closer's role. Hader has 10 saves on the season, and boasts a stingy 2.05 ERA. Other relievers include Jeremy Jeffress, Dan Jennings, and Taylor Williams.

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