Well, this is it. 159 games are in the book, and just three, short games remain until the Diamondbacks go into the darkness that is known as winter. They’ve shown flashes of their potential, but they’ve also shown just how fleeting potential can be until it materializes. Some of the young guys have done well. Others have struggled. Mostly, they’ve done both at different points in the season. The next few seasons promise to be interesting. If that’s a good thing or a bad thing, well, that’s why we’re going to play the games.
The Brewers are a team either on the cusp of a playoff spot or of some of the worst regular season disappointment a fan base can know. There is just one NL Wild Card spot left, and the Brewers are two games back. Depending on how this series and the Phillies series against the Astros goes, the Brewers could be the first team eliminated from playoff contention by tie breaker. Or just as easily, their hopes could be ended by 8pm Arizona time tonight.
Game 1 — 10/3, 4:40 PM: Tommy Henry (3-4, 1.57 WHIP, 68 ERA+) vs. Brandon Woodruff (13-4, 1.08 WHIP, 129 ERA+)
Henry has pitched eight games in his rookie season, and you don’t get much more of a mixed bag. He has as many games where he has only given up a single earned run as he has given up 5+ ERs (three). Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, those three blow out starts have come in his last three starts. A huge part of this is how many home runs he is giving up. His HR/9 innings is sitting at two. To put that in context, in Reno of all places, that HR/9 was 0.9. Despite moving to a much more pitcher friendly environment, the higher level of competition has figured out how to take him yard. In his last two starts, he has given up three home runs each.
Earlier this month, the Diamondbacks tagged Woodruff for five runs in 5.2 innings pitched. Very much out of the norm for him, as it was the first time he had given up more than three since May 9th. Since then, he has been on a roll. He’s picked up four wins and a no decision. The no decision was a game in Coors Field where he only allowed one run in seven innings. Of course, it was Coors, so the Brewers ended up losing that game by a score of 7-10. In addition to that gem of a no decision, during this run, he held the Yankees to a single run over eight innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals scoreless over six. Either this is the worst time to face him, or he’s due for a rough outing.
Game 2 — 10/4, 4:40 PM: Zac Gallen (12-3, 0.89 WHIP, 163 ERA+) vs. Eric Lauer (10-7. 1.24 WHIP, 103 ERA+)
Gallen had a couple of sub-standard (for him) outings immediately after the end of his scoreless streak. He’s bounced back nicely since, however, throwing eight one run, two hit innings against the Dodgers, and seven innings of two run ball against the Astros. A strong outing here would pretty much seal a second place finish in the Cy Young awards, in my opinion, and a fantastic start might just get him a couple of first place votes, especially if he can bring that ERA and WHIP down even more.
In his last start, Lauer shut down the Marlins over five innings, holding them scoreless and only allowing one baserunner. Before that start, though, he had two consecutive outings of 2 and 2⁄3 innings, one of which was a seven run beat down in Coors Field from the Rockies. He faced the Diamondbacks on 9/2, holding them to two runs in 6 2⁄3 innings.
Game 3 — 10/5, 1:10 PM: Merrill Kelly (13-8, 1.14 WHIP, 117 ERA+) vs. Corbin Burnes (12-8, 0.98 WHIP,
Kelly enters the final game of the season 5 and 2⁄3 innings short of 200 IP, a goal of his for this season. Personally, I have to wonder if pushing for that was or is a great idea. As he has caught and surpassed his personal best for innings pitched, the results have been decidedly un-Merrill Kelly like. His last start in particular was a nightmare. 4 and 2⁄3 innings pitched, eight runs on nine hits and two walks, which were topped off with three home runs. Barring an absolute implosion, I don’t see Lovullo taking him out before he reaches 200 IP.
Burnes did not fare well against the Diamondbacks in the series at the beginning of the month. He gave up five runs, on seven hits and three walks, but ultimately didn’t take a decision, as the Brewers won the game 8-6. That was his first of two such starts in the month of September, as he also gave up fjve runs on seven hits to the Mets three starts later. Last time out he held the Marlins scoreless over eight innings.
My conclusion is you should enjoy these last three games. Another season has come and gone, surpassing most expectations. Rookies have given us reason to hope, some a couple players took the next step that we had been hoping for. With Gallen going, I think we avoid the sweep, and with a bit of luck and a final good outing from Kelly, we even have a good shot at ending the season with a series win.