(94-68, NL West Winner)
(96-66, NL Central Winner)
Baseball purists out there probably aren't going to be all that comfortable with the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers are going to be playing each other in the postseason, but there is no doubt that both clubs have done their jobs and are worthy of their playoff bids this year. Here's how this series should shake out between these two teams starting on Saturday.
Pitching Edge: The Diamondbacks, on paper, shouldn't have had much of a pitching staff this year. Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Joe Saunders really didn't scare the wits out of a ton of teams this year, but they all very quietly put up sub-4.00 ERAs this year. Kennedy might even be the Cy Young Award winner after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in a season that dreams are made out of. JJ Putz, a one-time reject of a closer, did a great job this year as well, saving 45 of his 49 opportunities. David Hernandez proved to be a viable option at the back end of games to boot. On the other side though, winning a game against Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke at Miller Park is going to be tough since they went a combined 21-2 there this year. Greinke probably won't make it in Game 2, since that would mean he would be pitching on three days of rest for the second straight start, but Gallardo will get the nod in Game 1. Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf are both great options for the rotation as well. The back end of the rotation is started with John Axford, Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, and Francisco Rodriguez. That bullpen is what really should make the difference here for the Brew Crew. Advantage: Milwaukee
Lineup Edge: The Brewers have their big time bats for the D'Backs to worry about. Ryan Braun, potentially the league's MVP batted .332 with 33 homers and 33 stolen bases on the campaign, and Prince Fielder blasted 38 bombs with 120 RBIs as well. Don't discount others like Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Nyjer Morgan either, as all of them have the ability to come up with some big time games in what has proven to be a relatively potent lineup. Arizona wasn't particularly stellar offensively this year, accounting for 4.51 runs per game. Justin Upton knocked 31 homers and had 21 stolen bases, but the fact that he led the team in RBIs with 88 is a big scary. Only four players reached the double digit mark in home runs, though all four did end up with at least 18 blasts. There's plenty of speed as well, knowing that Upton, Ryan Roberts, Chris Young, Gerardo Parra, and Willie Bloomquist all stole at least 15 bases. That being said, the boppers for the Brewers are simply the better unit. Advantage: Milwaukee
Series History: How on earth are the Diamondbacks expected to win a game on the road in this series? They only went 43-38 as visitors this year, and the Brewers went a whopping 57-24 at Miller Park. There was no team in baseball that needed home field advantage like Milwaukee did, and it did its job. Though Arizona is 25-9 in its last 34 games overall, Milwaukee is 42-17 in its last 59 and is 47-18 in its last 65 at home. The D'Backs did take two out of three against the Brew Crew in Milwaukee this year, but that was back in July before they caught fire. Arizona did win the season series 4-3, but thanks to the home field advantage, we have no choice but to say that the slight edge goes to the Brewers. Advantage: Milwaukee
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks NLDS Schedule
Game 1 (Saturday): Arizona Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Yovani Gallardo)
Game 2 (Sunday): Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD) @ Milwaukee Brewers (TBD)
Game 3 (Tuesday): Milwaukee Brewers (TBD) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD)
Game 4 (Wednesday, if nec): Milwaukee Brewers (TBD) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD)
Game 5 (Friday, if nec): Arizona Diamondbacks (TBD) @ Milwaukee Brewers (TBD)
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Pick: Milwaukee has some players on it with some playoff experience, while this is going to be entirely new for the majority of the Diamondbacks. If somehow, Arizona can take one of these first two games on the road, we think that this series goes the distance. However, we tend to believe that the Brewers are just going to overwhelm the Diamondbacks and take this series very, very quickly with Greinke pitching on slightly extended rest in Game 3.
MLB Playoffs Pick: Milwaukee Brewers in 3 Games