Craig Counsell Becomes Brewers Winningest Manager

Craig Counsell
Morry Gash – Associated Press

On Wednesday night the Milwaukee Brewers (35-29) finally had a game where they dominated with both pitching and hitting as they beat the New York Mets (41-23) 10-2. This wasn’t any ordinary win though, it was Craig Counsell’s 564th victory as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers which is the most in franchise history.

Let’s look at what Counsell has meant to the Milwaukee Brewers since taking over the reins in 2015.

The Initial Seasons

Craig Counsell was hired as the Brewers manager on May 4, 2015.

Counsell’s first test as a manager came immediately as the Los Angeles Dodgers came into Milwaukee for a four-game series. Behind a three-run 8th inning, capped off by a Ryan Braun RBI infield single, the Brewers won 4-3 to give Craig Counsell a 1-0 record as a manager.

2015 was directly in the middle of a rebuild in Milwaukee. The Crew finished the season 68-94 overall and 61-76 under Counsell. The Brewers would only get better with him at the helm.

2016 was a little better as the Brewers finished 73-89, but, obviously, they wanted more.

2017 looked like the season where the Crew would get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. They went into the All-Star break with a record of 50-41, but out of the break, they went 9-18 giving them a 59-59 record. Despite getting back to winning ways and finishing with an 86-76 record they came up just short of a playoff spot.

Back to the Playoffs

Realizing how close they came in 2017, the entire Brewers organization knew they needed to get over the hump.

2018

2018 was the year that every Brewers fan and member of the organization has dreamed about their entire lives. It was a bit of a shaky start as Counsell only recorded 16 wins in the first 29 games, but after getting swept in four games by the Cubs it all changed.

On July 6, 2018, their record was 53-35. Counsell had got them to 18 games over .500 for the first time since June 28, 2014.

They finished the second half with an eight-game win streak. To cap off a historic season, they beat the Cubs 3-1 in a rare game 163 where the Crew won the National League Central for the first time since 2011. They finished with a record of 96-67, tying them for the most wins in franchise history (2011).

They made it to game seven of the National League Championship Series where their season came to a close. Despite coming up one game short of the World Series, Craig Counsell had led the Crew to one of the best seasons in Milwaukee Brewers history.

2019

The Crew looked to get back to the playoffs for a second straight year which had not happened since the 1981-82 seasons. They started the season 8-2, but after that, it was a rather inconsistent first half as the Crew went into the All-Star break with a 47-44 record.

Hoping to get back to the playoffs, Counsell and the Crew completely flipped the script late in the second half. They entered September with a record of 69-66 and on September 27 they held a record of 89-70.

With all their might, they had fought their way back into a playoff spot for a second straight year. They claimed the second wild-card spot and once against felt immense heartbreak as they lost immediately to the Washington Nationals.

2020

Counsell had been involved in the MLB in some capacity for a long time and this was certainly one of the most unique experiences of his long career.

The 2020 MLB season was only 60 games long, but they wanted to be back on the field playing even if it meant doing it without fans.

This was not a great season for the Crew as they were working with plenty of new players. It wasn’t all able to come together cohesively in such a short time span.

They finished the regular season 29-31. Even with a losing record, they snagged the last spot in an expanded playoff field. They once again lost immediately.

2021

With a full season and fans back in stadiums Craig Counsell was ready to get back to winning ways.

They began the season 17-10, but went through a rough patch and found themselves at 24-25 after a loss on June 26. Starting on June 27 they won 14 of their next 16. After a five-game losing streak, they went on to win 13 of their next 14. They went into the All-Star break at 53-39.

In a second half that featured a combined no-hitter with Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader, they were able to not only claim their fourth straight playoff appearance but also won the National League Central for the second time in four years.

Unfortunately, for the third straight season, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

He has taken the Crew to four straight playoff appearances which is incredible considering they only had four total appearances in their first 49 seasons (1981, 1982, 2008 and 2011).

The Historic Victory

The Crew started the 2022 season 29-16. They had impeccable pitching and got great offense from each member of their lineup. It was certainly looking like another spectacular season. That has not been the same story in June.

The Brewers are on their worst stretch since 2015 which included an eight-game losing streak. This struggle just meant more waiting for Counsell before he could finally achieve this great milestone.

The Crew had to take on the New York Mets who have been rolling, but after getting shut out in game one the Brew Crew broke out their bats in game two and came away with a huge 10-2 victory. Counsell’s historic managerial victory was highly interesting for many reasons.

It was their first time scoring 10 or more runs in a game since May 11, but their first time doing it in a victory since May 5. It was also their first time scoring double-digits after getting shutout since September 7, 2021, against the Phillies.

This game included great pitching and solid offense. Corbin Burnes dominated with eight strikeouts in six innings giving him his first victory since May 29. Their offense also put up seven runs in the fifth inning, their most runs in an inning since they scored seven in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on August 11, 2021.

Additionally, this now makes two wins in the Brewers’ last three games which could possibly mean good things for the Crew as they move into the second half of June.

Looking Ahead

With historic win No. 564, Craig Counsell stands alone as the winningest manager in Milwaukee Brewers history. He has accomplished things with this team that no other manager has which has been extremely exciting for the Brewers organization and fans. Even though he has been wildly successful at getting the Crew to the postseason, he is still searching for a way to get to the biggest stage in baseball: The World Series.

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