2021 Milwaukee Brewers
2021 Milwaukee Brewers / Franchise: Milwaukee Brewers / BR Team Page
Clinched Division: September 26, 2021, vs. New York Mets
Managed by Craig Counsell
History, Comments, Contributions
From June 22nd to July 2nd, the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers tied the best 10-game stretch in franchise history in terms of run differential: they outscored their opponents 73 to 26 during that stretch. The 1982 Brewers team that was the only one to have reached the World Series, had also had a +47 during a ten-game stretch in September of that year. Not entirely surprisingly, the Brewers went 10-0 during that stretch, erasing a terrible start to the month of May, when they had lost 13 of 17 games and their offense had gone into full hibernation mode. The season's turning point was the acquisition of SS Willie Adames in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21st: inserted in the middle of the line-up, Adames immediately began playing at a near-MVP level, and his production became contagious. Luis Urias, the man he displaced, suddenly began to hit as well in his new role as a utility player, and others joined the fray. Another trade brought in 1B Rowdy Tellez, who had become surplus to the needs of the Toronto Blue Jays because of the development of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. into a superstar. They gave up reliever Trevor Richards, who had been acquired in the Adames trade but who was lost in an already excellent bullpen, and he became an important part for the Jays as the trade helped both playoff contenders.
The Brewers clinched a postseason slot on September 18th, the earliest such date in franchise history. They had run away with the division lead starting with their 11-game winning streak in late June, which coicided with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals both fell off the pace. The Cubs never recovered and went into fire sale mode at the end of July, but the Cardinals managed to claw their way back into the wild card race, where they were locked in battle with the Cincinnati Reds and the San Diego Padres. However, neither them nor the Reds ever seriously threatened the Brewers' lead in the division race in the final three months.
It was known heading into the season that the Brewers had one of the strongest bullpens in the majors, led by Josh Hader and Rookie of the Year Devin Williams. However, the starting rotation turned out to be the team's true strength: three starters made the All-Star team - Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff - and interestingly the Brewers used a six-man rotation during most of the year, with Eric Lauer, Adrian Houser and veteran Brett Anderson filling the other three slots. Lauer was much improved after having a disappointment in his first year with the team in 2020, while Houser pitched the first complete game shutout by a Brewers pitcher in seven years on September 4th. Burnes was the biggest story however: he began the season by striking out a record 58 batters before allowing his first walk, then on August 11th, he tied a record by striking out 10 consecutive batters, and on September 11th he combined with Hader to pitch only the second no-hitter in franchise history, a 3-0 win over the Cleveland Indians. The no-hitter had competition for highlight of the year, however: on September 5th, Daniel Vogelbach hit a walk-off grand slam against the Cardinals in the bottom of the 9th to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 win.
Awards and Honors
All-Stars: Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader, Omar Narvaez, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff
NL Cy Young Award: Corbin Burnes
Trevor Hoffman Award: Josh Hader
Adam McCalvy: "How They Got There: Crew's earliest clinch", mlb.com, September 18, 2021. 
Associated Press: "Brewers clinch NL Central, condemn Mets to losing record", ESPN.com, September 26, 2021