By Brian Foley, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Sep 26, 2018 at 12:01 PM

The Milwaukee Brewers are on an absolute tear. After losing three straight games in mid-August to fall out of the playoffs entirely, the Brewers have posted a 23-10 record to move back into the first Wild Card spot (3.5 games clear of Colorado), and just a half-game back of Chicago for both the division lead and the top seed in the National League.

On Wednesday night, Milwaukee will look to finish off a sweep in St. Louis in what will be the Brewers’ final obstacle of a grueling stretch that included 15 consecutive games – and 18 of 21 – against NL Central competition. After taking the first two games against the Cardinals this week, the Brewers are 11-6 in those intra-division contests and have notched W’s in six of the seven series. Oh, and in the three games against non-NL Central opponents, all Milwaukee did was sweep San Francisco at Miller Park, holding the Giants to an average of 2.7 runs per game.

Following the St. Louis series, the Brewers will return home for one final three-gamer against Detroit. The Tigers are in total free fall and have played at just a 57-win pace since Aug. 3. The Cubs, meanwhile, still have two games left with Pittsburgh before a three-game series against the Cardinals, all at Wrigley Field. The schedule certainly favors the Brewers, who can solely focus on capturing the division crown rather than fighting off pesky Wild Card contenders. FiveThirtyEight gives Milwaukee a 43 percent chance to win the NL Central. Winning the division title is no longer a pipe dream or a fool’s errand; the franchise’s third pennant is on its fingertips right now.

To celebrate, OnMilwaukee has dusted off an old-school video from the Brewers’ archives. Check it out!

That’s not a cold snap sitting over Milwaukee right now; it’s Brewer Fever!

The Brewers won’t be able to match the franchise’s highest win total (96 set by the 2011 team), but this team has still put together one of the best baseball years this city has ever seen. The 2018 season marks only the Brewers’ eighth 90-win campaign ever, and the team is just one win away from locking up the fifth postseason appearance in the organization’s history.

Lorenzo Cain – the organization’s prodigal son – has returned home to post arguably the finest season of his career at 32 years old. He currently leads the NL in wins above replacement and is flashing his elite defense and on-base skills on a nightly basis.

Christian Yelich is ripping extra-base hits all over the yard – likely out of spite after I wrote that Cain should be the MVP frontrunner earlier this month (but based on his wonderful Players’ Tribune piece, probably not). Now he is the NL MVP favorite.

Travis Shaw, one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball since 2015, quietly shifted his Mayor of Ding Dong City duties over to second when Milwaukee acquired Mike Moustakas in July. And now after dealing for infielder Jonathan Schoop and moving him to shortstop, the Brewers have their very own "jumbo package" with the Moose, the Mayor, Schoop and the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Jesus Aguilar lined up across the infield.

Ryan Braun is in the middle of his worst season offensively, but he has still gracefully moved into a quasi-starter and elder statesmen role. The 34-year-old is also finding his swing as the playoffs approach, blasting three home runs in his last two games and posting a .291/.371/525 slash line since July 24.

On the mound, the starting rotation is hanging by a thread, but they (and Craig Counsell’s managing style) are still keeping the team in the game each night. And for what the starters lack in style, the relievers bring it in spades. The Brewers’ bullpen ranks first in the NL in strikeouts per nine innings, led by the fireballing Josh Hader and Corey Knebel. Top pitching prospect Corbin Burnes entered the fray during the summer and has posted a sparkling 2.60 ERA in 28 games. Jeremy Jeffress doesn’t get the same attention as his teammates, but his 1.35 ERA is unmatched by any reliever who has thrown at least 40 innings (and Jeffress has completed over 73 frames this year).

General manager David Stearns constructed a strange team that has only gotten stranger throughout the season, but Milwaukee has as much talent as nearly any other NL squad. Even on the bench, there are former starters like Curtis Granderson, Domingo Santana and Orlando Arcia who could definitely win a playoff game with a big knock or a defensive web gem. Counsell has also expertly handled his clubhouse thus far and has done well to mix-and-match position player platoons and reliever workloads.

The Brewers finished one game out of a playoff spot last year, but that team didn’t feel quite ready to do damage against baseball’s best. And even at the start of this season, the 2018 unit didn’t look quite ready either. But as the summer has turned to fall, this team continues to coalesce and find its footing. Now the Brewers have starpower and a strategy, which will be a dangerous combination for the rest of the NL to overcome.

Only four games remain on the regular season calendar, but an even bigger test awaits in October. As Yelich said when he penned his article on Wednesday: "LET’S GOOOOOOOOOO!"