The Arizona Diamondbacks will head to Milwaukee to face the Brewers at 7:00 ET tonight. The Diamondbacks find themselves back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017 despite trying to give the spot away by going 1-4 in their last five games. For the Brewers, this is familiar territory recently. They made the postseason four years in a row from 2018-2021 and missed the playoffs last year by one game. Let's see what this battle has in store for us in this National League Wildcard Series.
NL Wildcard Series: #6 Arizona Diamondbacks vs. #3 Milwaukee Brewers
Arizona has a slight edge offensively, scoring 18 more runs than Milwaukee during the season. They also lead the Brewers in team OPS, .730-.705. However, the Brew Crew is the best team in the majors at run prevention, allowing just a hair under four runs per game, whereas the Snakes surrender 4.7 RPG. Something has to give.
Milwaukee's lineup has been much better since August 1st, scoring over five runs per game. Carlos Santana has hit 11 home runs since coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in late July. William Contreras has been red hot for a while now. Since September 1st, the catcher is slashing .333/.412/.465, bringing an 18-game hitting streak into the playoffs. Christian Yelich has recently started to catch fire after a sluggish August. He is 10-for-25 with six walks in his last seven games. The team's home run leader, Willy Adames, put up a .852 OPS in September.
Arizona has runaway Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll. Sometimes, rookies hit a wall when the calendar turns to September. Not this kid. He has slashed .311/.362/.453 over the last month and even stole 13 bases in that time. Ketel Marte bounced back in September after a dismal August to the tune of a .926 OPS. Lourdes Gurriel set career highs in doubles and home runs this season and has a .836 OPS since August 1st. On the downside, Christian Walker has struggled recently despite returning to his 30-home-run ways this season.
Milwaukee begins the series with 2021 Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. While this was not his best season, Burnes still pitched well, with a 3.39 ERA and 200 strikeouts for the third season in a row. Wade Miley may be the Game Two starter, as Brandon Woodruff is not on the roster due to a shoulder injury. Craig Counsell will likely work his magic of playing matchups. He also has Colin Rea and Freddy Peralta at his disposal to start.
The Diamondbacks have Brandon Pfaadt going today. He looked good in his final start of the season against the Chicago White Sox, striking out eight without walking a batter. Cy Young hopeful Zac Gallen will get the ball in Game Two, with Merrill Kelly taking the hill in Game Three if necessary. Both Gallen and Kelly set career-highs in strikeouts this season with 220 and 187, respectively. Gallen and Kelly also combined to shut down the Brewers during the season. Arizona's top two gave up just five earned runs with a 32/7 K/BB rate in 27 innings over four starts against Milwaukee.
Aside from Devin Williams's dominance and airbender, the Brewers have a solid group in the pen. Bryse Wilson has allowed just one run in September, while southpaw Hobe Milner has not allowed an earned run since August 15th. Joel Payamps is also on the roster. However, he has been tough to trust lately, coughing up at least one run in seven of his last 13 appearances.
Paul Sewald solidified the back end of Arizona's pen, and he has gone six-for-six in save opportunities in September. Kevin Ginkel is another solid option for Torey Lovullo, as he has a knack for keeping the ball from leaving the yard, allowing just three home runs all season. Left-hander Andrew Saalfrank and Ryan Thompson have given up one earned run between them in 23.1 innings.
This should be a close series, especially since the Brewers are without their number two starter. The Diamondbacks bullpen is better than it was at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, the Brewers' offense has been rolling for the last two months. There is a lot of pressure on Burnes today. If the Diamondbacks can win against Milwaukee's ace, it is unlikely the Brewers will take two in a row from Gallen and Kelly. However, this is Burnes's time to shine, and Counsell is a master at mixing it up—Brewers in three.
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