The Milwaukee Brewers (89-73) will take on the Washington Nationals (93-69) on Tuesday evening in the National League Wild Card Game with the Dodgers looking on intensely. The winner of the matchup will be the Dodgers’ opponent in the National League Division Series and there seems to be an obvious favorite for who the Dodgers would be better suited to face: the Milwaukee Brewers.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) October 1, 2019
The Brewers are a very solid baseball team, but are one that looks a bit different than the one that took the Dodgers to 7 games in the 2018 NLCS.
They lost MVP candidate Christian Yelich for the rest of the season after he fractured his kneecap. And two of the Brewers’ most reliable relievers from 2018, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress have been injured and left the organization, respectively.
Milwaukee, a new-look team, against a team that somehow got even better in the off-season despite the departure of Bryce Harper? Anything can happen in a winner-take-all one game playoff, but there seems to be an obvious underdog and favorite in this matchup.
Still, let’s take a look at the Milwaukee Brewers and see how they match up against the Dodgers should they emerge victorious on Tuesday night.
On the season, the Brewers’ starting pitching corps put together a 4.40 ERA (16th in MLB) and 4.42 xFIP (15th in MLB). Pretty middle of the road. Starting pitching should play an interesting role in the Brewers’ plans should they advance considering manager Craig Counsell’s well-documented unconventional approach to the playoffs.
They will be starting right-hander Brandon Woodruff in the Wild Card Game, but is wholly possible that he only tosses a few innings to be preserved for a potential NLDS Game 2.
In addition to Woodruff (3.23 DRA), the Brewers will most likely carry Zach Davies (5.30 DRA), Chase Anderson (4.84 DRA), and Jordan Lyles (3.83 DRA). Outside of those four, they also are expected to have southpaw Gio Gonzalez and right-hander Adrian Houser in the mix.
The list is not a formidable one, and considering that every name on that list excluding Gonzalez is right-handed, the Dodgers could feast offensively with their lefty-heavy lineup.
The Brewers’ bullpen has checked in at a 4.40 ERA — the exact same mark as their rotation — and a better 4.16 xFIP. Those marks rank 18th and 5th in the majors, respectively. Their bullpen could make things interesting in not just a one-game playoff, but a short series as well.
The Brewers bullpen is being anchored by left-handers Josh Hader (2.20 DRA) and Drew Pomeranz (0.00 DRA). Yes, you read that right. Drew Pomeranz has been nothing short of amazing with the Brewers, accruing 0.8 WAR in just 23 1/3 innings of work in Milwaukee. The club will also be looking to deploy Freddy Peralta, a right-hander with downright filthy stuff, and Brent Suter, a soft-tossing righty who has been great out of the bullpen.
While the Brewers lost Christian Yelich, they still have some bats that can really get it done. Playoff Yasmani has enjoyed a solid 121 wRC+ season, veteran Mike Moustakas crushed 35 homers, and rookie second baseman Keston Hiura seems poised to make a name for himself after holding a .303 batting average in the regular season. Ryan Braun (.848 OPS), Eric Thames (.851 OPS), and Lorenzo Cain round out the meat of the lineup.
As currently constructed, the Dodgers and Brewers appear to be in fairly different leagues in terms of playoff equity. The Dodgers are the obvious pennant favorites after pulling a 106-56 Pythagorean record and the Brewers checking in with an 81-81 Pythagorean record, the worst of the playoff field by far.
We’ll know the answer as to who the Dodgers will be playing in the NLDS after tonight’s Wild Card game. Until then, get to know the Washington Nationals, the other potential opponent for Los Angeles.