Beginning on Tuesday at American Family Field, the Milwaukee Brewers will face off with the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games of their National League Wild Card Round series.
The Brewers cruised to victory in the National League Central division early. They secured their spot as the No. 3 seed in the National League playoffs, while the Diamondbacks secured theirs due to Cubs and Reds defeats.
The Brewers possess an outstanding rotation and bullpen and are used to playing with only a few powerful bats and solid pitchers for extended postseason runs.
The Brewers faced stiffer-than-expected competition from the Cubs and Reds this season, but pulled away in the last month.
The Brewers have one of the weaker hitting teams in baseball, yet Darin Ruf, Blake Perkins and Jesse Winker may all return just in time to help Milwaukee make a postseason run. Although that won’t solve all its issues immediately, it should help.
Milwaukee currently ranks in the bottom 10 in both wRC+ and OPS. Though they have improved since August 1 and now sit within the top half of their league, other playoff teams, such as the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers can all pitch; therefore if Milwaukee can outpitch everyone they may make it all the way to World Series glory. But that is a long road that probably won’t end well for the Brewers.
Milwaukee features one of the top-10 starting rotations. Their pitchers often avoid walking too many batters while striking out more than the league average.
Since August 1st, Milwaukee’s performance has notably improved; they only trail the Tampa Bay Rays and San Francisco Giants for starter xFIP since then and also reduced their walk rate during that timeframe.
Milwaukee’s bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and Elvis Peguero could return just in time to lead them back into playoff contention. Milwaukee currently ranks eighth in bullpen xFIP rankings and, even more impressively, is fifth with 25%+ strikeout rates.
The Brewers boast an abundance of relief options, with Devin Williams serving as one of the premier closers in MLB.
The Arizona Diamondbacks played well down the stretch, thanks to an outstanding start that propelled them. Aside from the Baltimore Orioles, few other playoff contenders can match Arizona for young talent on their roster – Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is just 29 and counts among their veteran regulars!
This team won’t necessarily coast through the playoffs on luck alone. Although they might appear underdogs, having two ace pitchers at the top of their rotation and two reliable arms in their bullpen should give them an edge against opponents. Furthermore, having such an unpredictable lineup and bullpen could create even greater chaos on gameday.
Arizona has managed to overcome some dismal projected numbers. They rank near the bottom in Hard Hit Rate and midway in both wRC+ and OPS.
They boast several stars like Corbin Carroll and Christian Walker who present formidable threats against any pitcher, but overall the lineup lacks consistency.
The D’Backs possess what may be the premier starting pitching duo in the playoff field: Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Both pitchers are talented starters with an impeccable track record.
Arizona ranks near the bottom-10 in starting pitcher xFIP this season; since August 1, however, they’ve moved up into the top 10 due to a less-than-sluggish rest-of-rotation performance.
Since they possess some excellent starters, this team should be able to navigate a short series with just them and a bullpen – however, they could face challenges after the Wild Card Round, if they can to the next round.
Arizona made a smart move at the deadline by adding Paul Sewald as a bullpen xFIP contributor, as they rank in the lower half this season.
Since August 1st, both players have remained relatively in the same spot; having them both available will make Torey Lovullo’s decisions easier.
Milwaukee’s pitching will get them through this series. the Diamondbacks have not played well over the last week, and while they can win this series, I think they come up short.
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