Many things came together for the Brewers over the final month, leading to their improbable surge into the thick of the NL wild-card chase. A revived bullpen is at the top of the list, however.
During the middle of the season, the relief corps could not protect leads, and the Brewers suffered a string of demoralizing losses that appeared to leave them dead in the water. Had they won even a few of those games, they'd probably be on the verge of a playoff berth.
Manager Ron Roenicke said it's only natural to play the "what if?" game but said it serves no real purpose at this point.
"You can't help but think about it a little bit," he said. "I always thought we had a better team than what we were playing in the middle of the season.
"The injuries did hurt us early, no question. When we lost (shortstop) Alex Gonzalez, that was a big blow. But I thought the guys came up and did a good enough job that we should have been playing better.
"Then, when we started playing better, we got into that stretch with the bullpen. If we don't go into that stretch, I don't know what our record would have been. It would have been really good.
"You always think about those things because you have to think about what happens in the past to figure out what you need to do in the future when those things happen. Because they will happen again. The more times you go through these, the more you may have an answer to getting it a little bit better."
With time running out in their pursuit of the Cardinals for the second-wild card berth, the Brewers are hurt badly by every loss. Roenicke said it is not healthy to think you can't lose a game, however.
"For St. Louis to win out, they could," he said. "And if they do, they deserve to win. The position we're in now, we know we have to play great baseball.
"That doesn't mean we have to win every single game and I don't think that feeling that you have to win every game is a good atmosphere to put on a team when you go out to play."