Man, we've got to wait another day before we play? Sheesh. Well, at least we can watch the American League play-offs today. To tide us over until then, we traded questions regarding the upcoming series with Kyle Lobner from Brew Crew Ball, who are the Milwaukee baseball arm of SB Nation [and are not to be confused with the other BCB in the NL Central!]. Thanks to him for suggesting this, and his answers. You should head over to Brew Crew Ball for my responses to their question, and more importantly, to see how Brewers fans are anticipating this series.
We're relieved it looks like we won't face Zack Greinke until Game 3, especially since he went 11-0 at Miller Park this year. What was the thinking there, and are you on board with it?Greinke's NLDS role is still a little up in the air. He doesn't like long layoffs between outings, so he pitched on short rest in the season's final game to avoid having a week off between his last regular season start and game one of this series. He only threw 74 pitches in the game, though, so it's strongly possible the Brewers will let him pitch on short rest again in Game 2. As you mentioned in your question, he's been excellent at home this season.
I think you can make a strong case that Greinke is being mishandled a bit here, and that the Brewers bent themselves back too far just to avoid making him deal with a couple of days of extra rest. With that said, Yovani Gallardo is hot right now and Shaun Marcum is coming off a solid season. They won't embarrass themselves while the Brewers wait for Greinke to be ready to pitch again.
The Brewers are doing everything they can to promote both guys, going so far as to send "resumes" for both hitters out to prospective voters this week. Fielder's season is worthy of recognition (and likely drove up his free agent value), but I think Braun's is really the most valuable. He's an elite player who does more things well: He can hurt you with his speed and average, not just his power.
The last time Fielder and Rickie Weeks were n Arizona, they got an unappreciative reaction, shall we say, from the All-Star Game home crowd. How was that perceived in Milwaukee and will it have any impact - positive or negative - on the team?
I think many of us understood why Arizona fans were upset, but were surprised at how long the grudge was held. Regardless of whether or not Fielder should have chosen Justin Upton as a participant, the Home Run Derby really isn't THAT big of a deal. I doubt it'll have any impact on this series: These games are too important to allow oneself to be distracted by fans upset over something that happened months ago.
What would you say is the Brewers' biggest strength, and their greatest weakness?
They don't get a lot of the press, but the Brewer bullpen has been phenomenal lately. Even on days when a starting pitcher leaves early they're capable of keeping the team in the game for extended periods of time and giving the bats an opportunity to come through. John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez get a lot of attention but Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, Kameron Loe and Marco Estrada are also having very good years.
Meanwhile, the Brewers have real problems on the left side of their infield, where they're likely carrying two of the least valuable regulars playing on a contending team. Casey McGehee appears to have played his way out of the lineup with an awful September to cap off a really disappointing season, and Yuniesky Betancourt really isn't much more valuable at shortstop. The two are an incredible combination of weak defense and poor hitting, and Jerry Hairston Jr can only replace one of them at a time.
What Diamondbacks player are you most concerned about?
Who am I NOT worried about? I'm really curious to see how the Brewers handle Miguel Montero and the rest of Arizona's lefties. They don't have an established lefty in the bullpen for key at bats against those guys, although they may attempt to use Chris Narveson in that role.
As far as pitchers go, I'm really curious to see how Ian Kennedy will fare in game one, and concerned that he's a guy who could exploit some of this Brewer offense's weaknesses.
And, of course, you'd be foolish not to be thinking about Justin Upton.
Predict how the series is going to unfold.
I know the first game in every playoff series is important, but I think the first game in this series is more important than most. If the Brewers can get by Ian Kennedy and pick up a win, I'm relatively confident in their ability to take two of the next three and keep this series from getting really interesting.
If the Brewers stumble in game one, then the pressure will be cranked up on them pretty early and I'm not sure how they'll respond. If they need to win games in Arizona to win the series I'm not sure how I feel about their chances.
Just for fun, tell me something about a Brewers player we might not know.
Nyjer Morgan adopted a kitten during the season and named it "Slick Willie." Morgan's antics have been chronicled, celebrated, remembered, retold and welcomed during his short tenure in Milwaukee, where he's gone from being a castoff with reported attitude problems to being the heart and soul of this team. Milwaukee loves this guy, and it's looking like getting him on the cheap this spring was one of Doug Melvin's best moves.