The Milwaukee Brewers currently sit at a mediocre 11-10 , but they are still tied for first place in the NL Central. Yes, the division may be down this year from past seasons, but it will make for an exciting race for the divisional crown.
In order for the Brewers to make a run at the pennant, or even just the postseason, there are five keys that the will lead to the team's success.
Lately the Brewers' starting pitchers have been up and down, especially Yovani Gallardo, who currently has an ERA of 4.88.
Shaun Marcum, on the other hand, really seems to have found a groove as he is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA.
Zack Greinke should be back in the dugout by early May, as he is currently on a Triple A rehab assignment.
The big fly has been very kind to the Crew so far this season, as they are among the league leaders in home runs. Ryan Braun has hit a total of seven HR's this year, which is tops in the majors.
If the core of the lineup can stay productive throughout the season, it will put many pitchers in situations with runners on base. This will lead to many runs, even in a pitcher friendly ball park like Miller Park.
Injuries have already taken their toll on the Brewers this year as both Corey Hart and Zack Greinke are currently out of the lineup.
Greinke, the Brewers big offseason acquisition, suffered a cracked rib while playing pickup basketball in Arizona during spring training. All-Star right fielder, Corey Hart, is currently in a Triple A rehab assignment, with a strained rib cage muscle.
The Brewers have been forced to platoon many players in right field including Brandon Boggs and Mark Kotsay.
Casey McGehee is currently batting .288 with two home runs and three RBI's. In order to force opposing pitchers to pitch to Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee will need to keep producing base hits as the year goes on. Prince Fielder was one of the most walked players in the league the past few seasons, and for the Brewers to succeed, they will need to give Prince as many at bats as possible.
Because Casey McGehee is manufacturing, Prince Fielder is on a tear so far this season with a .368 average, three homers and a league leading 21 RBI's.
After the catastrophic ending to his Axford's opening day appearance, he has recovered well and has four saves in six opportunities so far. The consistency of Axford could very well be the deciding factor for the Brewers late in the season.
After taking over for future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman last season, Axford ended the year with a total of 26 saves, placing him among the leaders in the National League. Axford recently showed his dominance on the mound, overpowering the Astros offense on April 24th, which resulted in his fourth save of the season.