Second verse, same as the first
There were a few interesting similarities between Game #1 and #2 in Milwaukee. Both saw the Brewers jump on our starter for a first-inning advantage. A home-run then pulled the D-backs back within one run, before they regained the lead. The Arizona bullpen then held firm down the stretch, as the Milwaukee offense were unable to take advantage of chances to turn the game back in their favor. Paul Sewald came in to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run lead, and hit a batter, but escaped without allowing a run. The Diamondbacks prevailed despite managing three fewer hits than the Brewers over the course of the game.
Gabriel Moreno gets all shook up
D-backs’ fandom collectively held its breath, after catcher Moreno took a nasty blow to the helmet, which clearly rattled his marbles. He initially stayed in, but was replaced by Herrera and there were concerns Gabriel would end on the 7-day concussion DL. Fortunately, that result seems to have been dodged, and hopefully, with almost three days before the NLDS starts, that’ll give him time to recover. It does expose the D-backs post-season lack of depth at catcher. Seby Zavala was acquired too late to be eligible and Steak85 reports that Ali Sanchez is hurt. We’d potentially have ended up with Juan Centeno on our roster. Given the team is now 59-37 when Moreno starts, and 27-41 when he doesn’t, it’d be a huge blow.
What about that bullpen?
9.1 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. The turnaround is remarkable, considering that through September 3rd, the D-backs’ relief ERA was 4.66, which ranked them 23rd in the majors. But since then? Including these two playoff games, Arizona’s bullpen has gone 7-1 with a 1.97 ERA, and that’s over 114 innings, so we’re getting into quite a meaningful sample size. Ironically, the only better club in the majors over that time were... the Brewers, who sit at 1.95 after the wild-card series. The likes of Sewald and Kevin Ginkel get the high-profile innings. But I want to point out that Ryan Thompson and Andrew Saalfrank have combined to throw 26.2 innings for Arizona this year, and allowed one earned run between them.
Big in the clutch
As Diamondhacks noted, Arizona were the beneficiaries in nine of the ten biggest plays, as measured by Win Probability in the series. Here are a full list of the ten, followed by a video highlight reel of all the plays in question.
- #10. Gm 2, down 5-2: 10.7% - Sal Frelick, Forceout at home
- #9. Gm 1, down 3-2: 11.3% - Ketel Marte, Solo Home Run
- #8. Gm 1, down 4-3: 11.4% - Josh Donaldson, Ground Ball Double Play
- #7. Gm 1, tied 3-3: 12.3% - Gabriel Moreno, Solo Home Run
- #6. Gm 1, ahead 4-3: 12.5% - Christian Walker, Double to CF; Carroll Scores; Pham Scores
- #5. Gm 1, ahead 1-0: -13.6% - Tyrone Taylor, Home Run; Donaldson Scores
- #4. Gm 1, down 3-0: 15.3% - Corbin Carroll Home Run; Perdomo Scores
- #3. Gm 2, down 2-1: 15.9% - Ketel Marte Single to CF; Perdomo Scores; Carroll Scores
- #2. Gm 2, down 2-1: 16.7% - Corbin Carroll Double to RF; Perdomo to 3B
- #1. Gm 1, down 4-3: 22.0% - Tyrone Taylor Double Play Lineout; Adames out at 2B
On to Los Angeles
There’s now two days of rest, which will help recharge the bullpen, before we start in Los Angeles. Game 1 looks to be Clayton Kershaw vs. Merrill Kelly. Quite a few narratives here. Kershaw has dominated the D-backs in Dodger Stadium. But in general, playoff Kershaw has been nowhere near as good as the regular-season variety. Meanwhile, Kelly is 0-11 against Los Angeles in his career. There’s no doubt, the Dodgers and Braves are the top teams in the National League, with over 100 wins each. But this is a five-game set, which could perhaps see four starts from Kelly and Zac Gallen. I don’t take this match-up lightly, for obvious reasons. But after what we saw in Milwaukee, who’d bet against Arizona?