Arizona: 94-68; 1st in NL West
Milwaukee:96-66; 1st in NL Central
Game 1: Oct. 1, 2:07 PM – Yovani Gallardo (17-10 3.52) vs. Ian Kennedy (21-4 2.88)
Game 2: Oct. 2, 4:37 PM – Shaun Marcum (13-7 3.54) / Zack Greinke (16-6 3.83) vs. Daniel Hudson (16-12 3.49)
Game 3: Oct. 4 – Joe Saunders (12-13 3.69) vs. Shaun Marcum (13-7 3.54) / Zack Greinke (16-6 3.83)
Game 4*: Oct. 5 – Josh Collmenter (10-10 3.38) vs. Randy Wolf (13-10 3.69)
Game 5*: Oct. 7 – (TBD vs TBD)
Road to the Playoffs
MIL: If you followed the Brewers during last offseason then the fact that they are currently sitting as a strong playoff contender shouldn’t be that surprising. Before the season even began, they were making major steps towards this year’s postseason. In early December, they picked up Blue Jays ace Shaun Marcum (37-35 3.85 w/ the Jays) and a just a few weeks later, they acquired Zack Greinke from the Royals just two years removed from a Cy Young award (16-8 2.16 in ’09). While clubs like Boston and Philadelphia were making big splashes signing free agents, Milwaukee quietly made headlines solidifying their starting rotation with 2 quality aces.
These acquisitions played their roles perfectly during the season. Marcum won 13 games and Greinke won 16. Throw in young gun Yovani Gallardo and veteran Randy Wolf and the Brewers possessed one of the best rotations in all of baseball this year. Their starters 73 wins, were 3rd most in the big leagues trailing only Philadelphia and Texas. Their bullpen is anchored by superstar closer John Axford who’s 46 saves and just 2 blown saves were bests in the NL.
Offensively, the Brewers are led by the best hitting duo in all of baseball: MVP candidates Ryan Braun (.332-33-111) and Prince Fielder (.299-38-120). Thanks to their efforts as well as a steady lineup around them, that includes Corey Hart (.285-26-63), Rickie Weeks (.269-20-49), and Casey McGehee (.223-13-67), the Brewers led the National League in homers.
ARI: Unlike the Brewers’ scenario, the Diamondbacks currently sitting in the NLDS may be surprising to a lot of folks. Last year, Arizona sat in the basement of the NL West. Nobody counted them in, not with the Giants ready to go again this year plus the fact that the only major offseason change was the addition of closer J.J Putz.
However, armed with that new closer, young budding superstars, and a manager starting his first full season with the team, Arizona set out with a new vigor and their eyes set on the division crown. Their first half against the Giants were nothing to write home about, but they dominated the defending champs in the 2nd half winning 7 of 9. This success led them to overtake the Giants in mid- August and by September hold a healthy 6 game lead on the reigning champs.
The success started right with the rotation. Ace Ian Kennedy jumped from 9 wins to 21 this season and lowered his ERA by over a run. Fellow starts Daniel Hudson (+9) and Joe Saunders (+3) both excelled this season. Rookie sensation Josh Collmenter chipped in 11 wins. The aforementioned Putz excelled in the closers’ role posting a 2.17 ERA while saving 45 games. Offensively, Justin Upton(.289-31-88) emerged as a serious MVP candidate while catcher Miguel Montero (.282-18-86) continued his strong offensive career. The wildcard proved to be super utility player Ryan Roberts (.249-29-65), who earned himself a starting role while posting career highs in every offensive category.
Prediction: While the Diamondbacks are a feel good story and post some quality talent, the Brewers’ pitching staff and offense are both deeper and stronger. It’s been a great run for Kirk Gibson’s squad, but I don’t see them getting past the Brewers.
Brewers in 4.