The Brewers won the NL Central with an overall record 92-70. Between their record and the Cubs fading at the end of the season, they won their division with a solid nine game lead. Much like the Diamondbacks, they had a steep slump mid season, only winning at a .407 clip in the month of May, before slowly improving to .500 over June and July, and finished strong over .600 during August and September.
This will be the third series that the Diamondbacks have played against the Brewers this season, and so far, it’s gone in favor of Arizona. Mid-April the two teams faced off in Arizona, which resulted in a series win. However, their second series in June was less positive, losing two out of three. This lines up with their home/road splits. At home, they won just over 60% of the time, but on the road, their winning percentage was much lower at .531. All total, however, the Diamondbacks won the season series 4-2.
The Starting Pitching
The Brewers starting pitching took a huge blow on Monday, when it was announced that their number two starter, Brandon Woodruff, would not be playing in the Wild Card series due to a shoulder issue that had previously kept him out for an extended period earlier this season. While this does make the path easier, the Brewers still have a phenomenal pitching staff lead by 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, who will be starting Game 1. While Burnes is not pitching to that level this year, he still has earned an ERA+ of 127. They haven’t announced their Game 2 and 3* starters yet, but behind him are Old Frienemy Wade Miley, who is turning a fantastic, if shortened, season of his own at 137 ERA+, and Freddie Peralta, 112 ERA+.
For the Diamondbacks, in a turn that no one would have guessed a month or two ago, Brandon Pfaadt will be starting Game 1 for the Diamondbacks. He gets the ball thanks to the Diamondbacks being unable to clinch early and needing to use both Gallen and Kelly to get the job done, rather than letting Kelly Saturday off and rest until Tuesday. The key here will be which Pfaadt shows up, and how long will Lovullo let him find his footing. However, after Pfaadt, they’ll have Gallen for Game 2 and Kelly for Game 3*. I believe that with the loss of Woodruff, the pitching match ups on their own are much more favorable.
Especially when you look at the offense. Strictly on a pitcher to pitcher matchup, the Brewers might have an edge, but when you look at the offense the Diamondback pitchers will be facing, they might start looking better. The Brewers rank in the bottom third of OPS+, WRC+, OPS, SLG, BA, and second most double plays in the sport. Is that last one cherry picked? Perhaps, but with the Diamondbacks strong infield difference, that could easily come into play. An offense that weak could allow Pfaadt especially to have a repeat of his performance against the White Sox where he went 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings.
The Diamondbacks offense isn’t lighting any of those categories on fire either, per se, but they do have a line up that can, and does, get hot at any time. And I think that’s one of their strengths. They aren’t a top heavy line up that relies on one Aaron Judge or Mike Trout type to keep things moving. It’s a well balanced line up that has contributors top to bottom that can get hot and push the team forward at any given time. Plus their self-proclaimed chaos on the basepaths when used correctly can force errors on the part of the opposing teams.
The Diamondbacks bullpen has stepped it up considerably in the past month. Paul Sewald has found his footing in the new environment, Kevin Ginkel has cemented himself as the eighth inning set up guy that we’ve been missing just as much as a closer, and the rest of the ‘pen around them has been stable as well. They’ll need to continue that, and then some, to keep up with not only Devin Williams, the Brewers All-Star closer, but also the rest of postseason bullpens.
Until Monday, most people said that the Brewers had the advantage due to their starting pitching. Personally, I believe that a lot of that advantage has been nullified since they lost Woodruff. Not eliminated, mind you, but the Diamondbacks now have the clear advantage in Game 3 for sure and probably Game 2 as well. The offense should run circles around Milwaukee. Literally, with their struggles at defending against the stolen base.
Basically, I think that the Brewer’s poor offense will help the Dbacks pitching play up, and while the Dbacks offense is going to struggle against Brewer pitching, it will be less than it would be otherwise. If that happens, they’ll have a really good shot.