Series Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68) vs Milwaukee Brewers (96-66)

Milwaukee is already up 1-0 in this series but these things take too damn long for me to write to have this up before that happened (laughing). It’s hard to believe that there are two teams from the NL Central in the playoffs this year.

Team overviews

Team stats, with NL rank in parentheses

DBacks Brewers
wOBA .321 (4th) .327 (3rd)
UBR 0.9 (6th) -3.9 (11th)
UZR 55.8 (1st) 16.2 (4th)
DRS 33 (4th) 19 (7th)
SP FIP 4.13 (11th) 3.75 (6th)
RP FIP 3.76 (8th) 3.24 (3rd)

Two of the biggest surprises this season were that the Brewers did not have the top offense in the NL and that they didn’t have one of the worst defenses, let alone a defense that scored as above average in both systems. The third biggest surprise was that Rickie Weeks put in a full season. For some reason I was convinced that he had broken his hand earlier this year, but I must be remindering one of his 5000 other injuries in his Brewers career. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder did their part (and then some) to power the Brewers offense along side solid seasons from Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Nyjer Morgan. However, the left side of the Brewers infield was an absolute black hole of offense. Casey McGehee turned back into a pumpkin, posting a .223/.280/.346 line in a whopping 600 PAs, good for a -21.2 wRAA. Next to him on the diamon, Yuniesky Betancourt had nearly as terrible a season posting a .252/.271/.381 line in 584 PAs for -17.6 wRAA. Subreplacement level stopgaps “backing them up” at the position such as Craig Counsell and Felipe Lopez combined for an additional -16.6 wRAA. Ouch. Don’t worry though – it looks like Jerry Hairston, Jr. has seized the job (laughing).

Defensively, the Brewers pair of CF (Morgan and Carlos Gomez) not surprisngly led the charge. Unfortunately for the Brewers with Hart and Braun on either side of them they can only get one of those gloves in the lineup. Braun, Fielder, and unsurprisngly Betancourt had poor defensive years but no one was particularly putrid on defense.

Pitching is of course the biggest change between this year’s team and last’s. The Brewers went all in with this being Fielder’s last year, trading for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Both deals have worked out great, with Greinke posting a sub-3 FIP and solid years from the rest of the rotation. The pitching staff was remarkably healthy – only six different pitchers started games for the Crew this year. Greinke missed time early in the season with a ST injury and Narveson went on the DL for a few weeks, but that was it.

I don’t know what to say about the Diamondbacks. Most of the advanced stats don’t like them (BP has them as a sub-.500 team on TTL). Team defense is definitely their biggest asset. All of their regular starters posted sub .300 BABIPs. The team was led by pitchers Ian Kennedy (another member of the Wandy Rodriguez All-Starts), Daniel Hudson, and a huge year from Justin Upton. It’s a stars-and-scrubs kind of squad – Upton gets the headlines but they’re also starting guys like Lyle Overbay, Willie Bloomquist, Paul Goldschmidt, and Ryan Roberts, and gave 200 PAs to Xavier Nady.

On the fielding side all of Arizona’s top performers were in the outfield, which worked out well considering the flyball tendencies of their pitching staff. No one graded out particularly terrible except for Willie Bloomquist inexplicably playing 197 innings in LF.

Pitching Matchups

Pitcher ERA, FIP, and xFIP are listed

Saturday: Ian Kennedy, RHP vs Yovani Gallardo, RHP

The Brewers won this game 4-1 yesterday, mostly punctuated by a Fielder HR in the 7th. Gallardo silenced those who doubted the Brewers for starting him over Greinke by going eight innings, striking out nine while walking one.

Sunday: Daniel Hudson, RHP (3.49, 3.28, 3.79) vs Zack Greinke, RHP (3.83, 2.98, 2.56), 4 PM CT

All I have to say is

(dying laughing)

(dying laughing)

(dying laughing)

(dying laughing)

at the White Sox for trading Dan Hudson for Edwin Jackson last year. It’s hard to believe that Jackson has been involved in so many mind-boggling trades – he was also involved in that Colby Rasmus hornswoggle earler this year.

Greinke has some poor luck early in the season with HRs and BABIP but as you can see his peripherals are more than solid. His current deal runs through next season, and depending on how unsettled things are in the NL central next year vis-a-vis Pujols and Fielder, even without Prince Milwaukee could have a decent chance of winning back to back division titles – they also have one more year of Marcum.

Tuesday: Shaun Marcum, RHP (3.54, 3.73, 3.89) vs Josh Collmenter, RHP (3.38, 3.80, 4.18)

Collmenter is a rookie, and given his numbers I’m a little surprised that I haven’t seen his name thrown around in ROY conversations. He’s only 20 innings or so over last year’s workload, so the DBacks don’t have to worry much about fatigue but his season has been quite the outlier based on his minor league numbers. Collmenter posted a 1.63 BB/9, but was projected to have a number well north of four.

Marcum’s peripherals regressed a bit this year despite the league change. It’s surprising to see a K rate drop after moving to the NL, especially the NL Central. Marcum is an extreme flyball pitcher, and has a .269 career BABIP.

Wednesday: Randy Wolf, LHP (3.68, 4.29, 4.47) vs Joe Saunders, LOL (3.69, 4.78, 4.38)

The Brewers haven’t announced a game 4 starter yet, but I think Wolf gets the start unless they go down 2-1, in which case Yo could the start on 3 days rest. Wold had a disappointing year with the Brewers last year, and followed it up with an okay-ish one this year. He’s seen a big drop in strikeouts since joining the Brewers, but his walk rate this season was much closer to what he put up in his Dodgers season that got him this contract in the first place.

Gah, Joe Saunders. The Jeff Francouer of pitchers. It’s hard to believe that he’s only 30 years old – he’s already morphed into the prototypical junkballing 37 year old lefthanded journeyman. At least he didn’t have a random 17-7 season this year so we don’t have to hear about what a Gutsy Pitcher Who Knows How To Win he is.

Friday: Ian Kennedy, RHP (2.88, 3.22, 3.50) vs Yovanni Gallardo, RHP (3.52, 3.59, 3.19)

I mentioned above that Kennedy was a member of the Wandy Rodriguez All Stars, players who gave me a bad first impression and I’m always surprised at when they do well. He’s had a solid season but he needs a few more before he solidifies his membership in those ranks. I’m still going to instinctively think that he sucks though (laughing)

Gallardo had a solid year and was rewarded for his solid career with the Crew by getting the first NLDS start. The results were good, but I hope Roenicke sees the light and tries to get Greinke as many starts as possible in future playoff rounds.

Prediction

I think I said Brewers in 4 earlier this week, but I’ve changed my mind. They should sweep the Dbacks out of here.


berselius

About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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