WASHINGTON -- Throughout the Brewers' climb back into postseason contention, several factors have contributed to their turnaround.
A more reliable bullpen might be the most prominent factor, but with the Brewers seeking a series win over the Nationals on Monday, manager Ron Roenicke was praising the depth of a lineup that has produced the most runs in the National League. Milwaukee entered the series finale having plated 733 runs this season, third in all of baseball to the Rangers and Yankees.
That offense has come from a lineup that lost Prince Fielder to free agency last winter and has endured injuries of varying significance throughout this season to Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun and others.
"It is deep," Roenicke said of his lineup. "For a while there, I was writing out the lineup and thinking, 'Well, I hope this little group right here does something.' Now I write up the lineup and I say, 'Wow, that's really nice.' When [Jonathan Lucroy] is sixth, you've got a really good lineup."
Feeling the full brunt of September baseball, the variety of injuries has only increased as the Brewers wrapped up their series with the Nationals and prepare for another pivotal three-game set with the Reds.
But even with Hart continuing to work his way back from a left arch injury and Braun playing through groin issues, Roenicke isn't checking with players daily to see if they can go. A quick check with head trainer Dan Wright covers that, and with the Brewers entering play Monday 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race, players throughout the clubhouse are playing through their ailments.
"We're in that situation where every game is intense, every play is intense," Hart said. "You never know how many chances we're going to get, so every chance is big for us. We've been playing like that for the past month, and that's why the way we are."