Milwaukee Brewers: 5 Keys for a Late Run into October

Grant Tucker@@grant_tuckerContributor IIApril 24, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers: 5 Keys for a Late Run into October

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    MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 04: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers greets teammates during player inrtoductions before the home opener against the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park on April 4, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Braves defeated the Brewers 2-1. (
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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.

Starting Pitching

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    MARYVALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Yovani Gallardo #49 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 24, 2011 at Maryvale Stadium in Maryvale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    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 Long Ball

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    MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 04: Rickie Weeks #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers is congratulated by teammate Ryan Braun #8 after hitting a solo home run in the 3rd inning against the Atlanta Braves during the home opener at Miller Park on April 4, 2011 in Milwaukee,
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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.

Avoiding Injury

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    MARYVALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Corey Hart #1 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 24, 2011 at Maryvale Stadium in Maryvale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    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.

Keeping McGehee Hot

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    ATLANTA - JULY 15:  Casey McGehee #14 of the Milwaukee Brewers against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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.

Axford's Confidence

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    ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 18: Relief pitcher John Axford #59 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 18, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Brewers beat the Cardinals 3-2.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    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.