When the Milwaukee Brewers dealt top prospect Brett Lawrie in return for former Toronto Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum last offseason, they envisioned a steadfast starter that would eventually become an anchor in their starting rotation.
For the most part, they were able to get a considerable return-on-investment. The 29-year-old Marcum went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA and a .232 BAA, including an MLB
-best 2.21 ERA on the road over the course of his sumptuous 2011 regular season.
However, the month of September proved to be a bit disappointing. In five total starts in the regular season’s regular month, the righty went 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA, and actually allowed opposing hitters to bat an appalling .273 in 31.1 total innings of work.
In turn, his late season struggles would proceed into Milwaukee’s postseason competition, with much disgust to Brewers fans across the country.
In just three postseason starts — totaling a whopping 9.2 innings collectively — Marcum posted a disheartening 14.90 ERA, allowing more earned runs (16) than innings pitched, leading to a Milwaukee loss in each game Marcum appeared in the playoffs.
After such a widely successful 2011 campaign, amassing countless accolades on his way to becoming Ron Roenicke’s primary go-to starter on the road, could the Brewers actually contemplate trading away Marcum? At this stage, it seems like such a fabrication that most Brewers fans would simply toss the issue aside completely, but a trade may be on the horizon.
Many teams would be interested in Marcum’s services for 2012 and the foreseeable future. The Cubs, Rays, Orioles and, yes, even the Yankees could all be vying for his services in the near future, seen as how he’s set to become an unrestricted free-agent after next season.
Surely, the Brewers will neither be interested nor able to pay the going-rate for Marcum next offseason, so why not get their own return-on-investment by trading Marcum this offseason?
Rumors are sure to surface this offseason, folks. Only time will tell.
With the Milwaukee Brewers’ historical postseason now effectuated, it’s time to start looking into the future for some of the organization’s top minor league prospects.
Filling the void that will inevitably be left behind by Prince Fielder should be rather lucid, with 26-year-old Mat Gamel waiting in the wings to take over the starting job. As for the other top-notch prospects honing their skills down in the Arizona Fall League, they may have to wait a while longer.
Let’s check in on each top prospect’s progressions in the early-going of the Arizona Fall League.
Daniel Meadows, LHP
In four full seasons in the minors, the 24-year-old Meadows has proved to be one of Milwaukee’s best young relievers on the farm, particularly of late. In 21 appearances through the first half of 2011, Meadows boasted a 1.51 ERA with 39 SO in 41.2 IP for the AA affiliate Helena Stars. This fall, he’s used his above-average command and effective slider to strut a 1.80 ERA in four separate appearances, totaling 5.0 IP.
Cody Scarpetta, RHP
Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 draft, Scarpetta was on the virtual fast-track to the majors after a sumptuous rookie season with high class A Brevard County and AA-Huntsville, posting a combined 2.23 ERA with 58 SO in just 36.1 IP. However, his production seemingly dropped off, specifically in 2011, where his K/BB ration fell to 1.6:1. He’ll need to refine his game if an appearance with Milwaukee is imminent, and so far he’s done well. In two appearances (including one start) Scarpetta holds true to a 2.25 ERA with 3 SO, but has also walked six in 4.o IP.
Scooter Gennett, 2B
The 5’9″, 180-pound speedy second-baseman has a bright MLB future ahead of him. Upon being selected in the 16th round of the 2009 draft by Milwaukee, Gennett has pieced together two exceptional seasons in the minors. In 2010, the speedster batted .309 with 9 HR and 55 RBI, including 14 SB and 87 runs scored. Last season, Gennett complemented his previous success by batting .300 with 9 HR and 51 RBI and 11 SB for high-A Brevard County. Thus far this fall, he’s off to another fast start — bating .333 (9-for-27), has 2 HR and 6 RBI and 17 TB to his credit.
Kentrail Davis, OF
Pardon me for being a bit too titillated, but there’s something that tells me this guy has a shot at being a superstar at the next level. The former Tennessee Volunteer and 39th overall pick in the 2009 draft has been an absolute gem in Milwaukee’s farm system in just two short seasons. In 2010, Davis batted .304, drove in 63 RBI and scored 64, all while stealing 11 bases. However, 2011 would be his coming-out party, as the nimble outfielder batted .245 with 8 HR, 46 RBI and managed 33 SB. In 25 at-bats this fall, Davis is batting .280 with an RBI and two stolen bases, and has also notably struck out 10 times.
Logan Schafer, OF
Not to be outdone, though, is the 25-year-old Schafer, who in essence could make a tremendous impact on Ron Roenicke’s clubhouse as early as next season. The former 2008 draft selection has thrived down on the farm, most notably in 2011, where he batted a ridiculous .385 with 43 RBI and 5 HR, while also stealing 16 SB. His production was enough to earn him a September call-up, where he would eventually play in eight total games, going 1-for-3. This fall, Schafer is off to a scorching start, batting .243 with a home run and 6 RBI and 1 SB.
Other news and notes: 2011 first-round draft pick Jed Bradley will replace Tyler Thornburg in the Arizona Fall League.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter! @alecdopp
The Milwaukee Brewers’ spectacular 2011 season came to a screeching halt on Sunday night at Miller Park, when the club dropped a must-win Game 6 of their NLCS bout with the St. Louis Cardinals by a 12-6 mark.
Truthfully, the lost hurt in more ways than one.
Not only did the loss shatter the hearts of Brewers fans across the nation, but it would also mark the commencement of a new era of baseball in Milwaukee. With Prince Fielder now set to become an unrestricted free-agent, it’s only inevitable that Milwaukee’s 2012 lineup will be one with an entirely new scope.
What could their opening day depth chart look like? Here’s a way-too-early sneak-peak before opening-day against the Cardinals.
Projected Depth Chart
Although a portion of Milwaukee’s opening-day starting lineup will look completely different from 2011, the starting rotation is one aspect that shouldn’t alter at all. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are still under contract through 2012, and Randy Wolf is also under contract through next season, with a $10 million 2013 option pending after next season.
The biggest question mark for Milwaukee’s rotation heading into next season is whether or not GM Doug Melvin decides to re-sign Chris Narveson, who made a shade over $400,000 in 2011. If the Brewers sign him to a new deal, this is what Milwaukee’s opening-day rotation should ultimately look like.
Projected Depth Chart
Frankie De La Cruz
If I had to distinguish one specific area Melvin might try to improve the most with Fielder’s massive contract off the books, it would be refreshment of Milwaukee’s bullpen.
At times, it seemed as though the Brewer bullpen was one of the deciding factors in their 2011 success. After all, they did go from maintaining MLB’s fifth-worst ERA (4.58) in 2010 to ninth-best (3.63) in 2011 after acquiring Takashi Saito, who will need to be re-signed in the offseason.
38-year-old LaTroy Hawkins had a respectable year (2.42 ERA, 20 HLD), but will likely not be back with the club next season. The same can be said for midseason pickup Francisco Rodriguez, who restructured his contract with Milwaukee, thus avoiding a hefty $17.5 million 2012 vesting option.
In turn, the Brewers will need to seek a veteran reliever with much experience to fill the gaping hole left behind from Rodriguez, and I suspect Milwaukee to target a power right-handed setup man much like Frank Francisco this offseason.
Projected Depth Chart
There’s been some speculation surrounding Lucroy’s free-agent status over the past few weeks. Allow me to clear things up: the Brewers would be foolish not to re-sign the 25-year-old catcher.
Lucroy has been an unsung hero in Milwaukee’s postseason success. Holding true to a .993 FPCT, an MLB-best 8.96 RF and but one passed ball in the regular season, Lucroy is one of the better defensive catchers in the game today. His bat wasn’t half bad either, amassing 12 HR, 59 RBI and a .265 BA during the regular season.
Backup George Kottaras is arbitration eligible this offseason, but I think management will work out a deal to bring him back next year.
Projected Depth Chart
With Fielder’s exit, 26-year-old prospect Mat Gamel will finally have his shot at being Milwaukee’s starting first-baseman.
Surely, he won’t be as big of a home-run threat as No. 28 once was, but Brewers fans should have confidence in what Gamel brings to the table. He does have power, amassing 105 HR, 503 RBI and a .873 OPS over seven highly productive seasons in the minors, and he has proved himself to be a .300-plus hitter, most notably batting .304 last season with AAA-Nashville.
He’ll need some time to become acclimated defensively, but I expect him to get into the swing of things quickly. He’s a diamond in the rough, folks.
Projected Depth Chart
Another year, another injury-plagued season for Rickie Weeks.
The Brewers’ second baseman put up some of truly magnificent numbers during the first-half of 2011. Batting .278 with 52 RBI and a MLB-best 17 home runs, Weeks’ output was enough to name him the NL’s starter at second base.
Yet, it would be an ankle sprain in late July that would get the better of Weeks’ campaign, and he would never really return to his previous form thereafter. Nevertheless, the Brewers will be absolutely in need of No. 23 to step it up in 2012 with Fielder now gone. Chances are, he’ll be protecting Ryan Braun as the cleanup hitter — something he’s done just twice in seven seasons.
Projected Depth Chart
Do I think the Brewers will pick up Yuniesky Betancourt’s $6 million 2012 option? Of course not. The 29-year-old shortstop has largely overstayed his welcome in Milwaukee after just one season.
That being said, if Milwaukee does decide to look elsewhere for talent on the left side of the infield, I think Melvin will key in on someone like Clint Barmes to hold the fort down. The 32-year-old shortstop will be one of the most defensively apt infielders on the free-agent market this offseason. I think Melvin will pull the trigger.
Projected Depth Chart
Jerry Hairston, Jr.+
Acquiring Hairston fromWashington in a trade that added depth to Milwaukee’s injury-plagued infield back at the deadline proved to be invaluable to the Brewers’ late-season run.
The 35-year-old Hairston essentially swiped the starting position right out from under Casey McGehee’s feet, and produced impressively. His .385 BA in the postseason ranked second among all third basemen in the playoffs, surprisingly enough.
Making $2 million last season, Hairston is relatively cheap, and with his outstanding performance (for the most part) in the postseason, I expect him to be the opening-day starter for Milwaukee next season, ergo giving prospect Taylor Green another productive season down in the minors.
Projected Depth Chart
I attempted to come up with something fascinating here, but it’s really just a vanilla subject at best. Looking ahead, expect Braun to be starting in left field for at least the next nine seasons.
Projected Depth Chart
Could “Beast Mode” already be over? Not so fast.
Last year, Nyjer Morgan earned every penny of his one-year, $450,000 salary, batting .304 with 4 HR and 37 RBI. There’s still a chance Milwaukee could re-sign him, and I think Melvin will take than chance.
That being said, Carlos Gomez must be able to produce with consistency if a starting roll is imminent. Despite missing significant time due to a collar bone injury last summer, the speedster batted just .225 with 8 HR and 24 RBI in 231 at-bats, while notching 16 stolen bases. He’s the better defensive outfielder, without question, but his bat remains a hit-or-miss (pun not intended).
Projected Depth Chart
Again, not much to be said here. Milwaukee came to terms with Hart on a three-year, $26.5 million contract extension back in August of 2010, and they’ll need his services next season and beyond.
Mark Kotsay is set to become a free-agent, and there’s no questioning the depth and talent he brought forth to the club in 2011. Expect him to be re-signed this offseason to a short-term deal.
Complete Opening Day 25-Man Roster
1. RF Corey Hart
2. CF Carlos Gomez
3. LF Ryan Braun
4. 2B Rickie Weeks
5. 1B Mat Gamel
6. 3B Jerry Hairston, Jr.
7. SS Clint Barmes
8. C Jonathan Lucroy
9. P Yovani Gallardo
C George Kottaras
UTIL Josh Wilson
CF Nyjer Morgan
UTIL Mark Kotsay
RHP Yovani Gallardo
RHP Zack Greinke
RHP Shaun Marcum
LHP Randy Wolf
LHP Chris Narveson
RHP John Axford
RHP Frank Francisco
RHP Kameron Loe
RHP Takashi Saito
RHP Frankie De La Cruz
LHP Zach Braddock
LHP Mitch Stetter
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter! @alecdopp
After a magnificent 2011 regular season in which he produced massive MVP-caliber numbers, Prince Fielder has solidified himself as this offseason’s hottest free-agent commodity. The only question is, where will he sign?
Several teams will battle it out for the right to MLB‘s most famous vegetarian, but some are beginning to separate themselves from the pack as the postseason winds down. With the offseason just around the corner, here’s an in-depth look at the six teams most likely to nab Fielder this winter.
2011 Team Payroll: $68 million. Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): Ivan Rodriguez ($3 million), Mike Morse ($1.05 million), Tom Gorzelanny ($2.1 million)
Maintaining MLB’s ninth-lowest payroll, the Nationals finished their 2011 campaign with a surprisingly competitive 80-81 mark, despite the absence of Stephen Strasburg. Ranking 17th in baseball in home runs (154), 24th in RBI (594), 25th in OBP (.309) and 22nd in SLG (.383), the Nationals lacked the offensive power necessary to compete in a power-packed NL East. With the addition of Fielder and a Bryce Harper promotion, that could change substantially.
The Nationals won’t have nearly as much money to throw at Fielder as some of the more desperate teams, but they do have one thing going for them: young talent. Fielder would be wise to recognize the tremendous potential in D.C., with Strasburg, Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and a slew of up-and-coming prospects making the Nationals top competitors for No. 28 this offseason.
2011 Team Payroll: $86 million. Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): David Aardsma ($4.5 million), Jason Vargas ($2.5 million), Brandon League ($2.3 million)
If Fielder is keen on getting his money’s worth this offseason, he should look no further than Seattle, where it’s safe to say they’ll be desperate to gain big-time offensive firepower. Ranking dead last in runs scored (556), hits (1,263), RBI (534), OBP (.292) and SLG (.348) in 2011, the Mariners will likely set their sights on Fielder’s big bat in order to reshape their once-proud franchise.
Toronto Blue Jays
2011 Team Payroll: $63 million. Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): Kelly Johnson ($5.8 million), Yunel Escobar ($2.9 million), Frank Francisco ($4.0 million), Brandon Morrow ($2.3 million)
Picturing Prince Fielder and Jose Bautista in the same lineup is frightening.
The Blue Jays, who have now gone 18 illustrious seasons without a postseason appearance, would be thrust into postseason contention with the addition of a talent such as Fielder. With the talent they’ve already assembled, an AL East title may be on the horizon.
Granted, it’s easier said than done. Toronto has a number of contracts that will need to be restructured this winter, including re-signing Brandon Morrow to a respectable new deal. The money won’t be flowing quite as much as it will in Seattle; however, there’s more to be had than his $15.5-million contract with Milwaukee. This deal could certainly be a possibility.
2011 Team Payroll: $125 million. Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): Aramis Ramirez ($14.6 million), Jeff Baker ($1.2 million), Matt Garza ($5.9 million), Carlos Pena ($10 million)
With Theo Epstein now running the free-agent show in Chicago, anything is possible. Inking Carl Crawford to a seven-year, $142-million deal last December, the former Red Sox general manager isn’t hesitant toward wafting around vast amounts of cash.
Wrigley Field has been a home away from home for Fielder throughout his career. Batting .298 with 11 HR and 34 RBI to go with a 1.003 OPS in 49 games at the friendly confines, Fielder should be Chicago’s primary offseason target as the Cubs prepare for next season.
San Francisco Giants
2011 Team Payroll: $117 million. Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): Mark DeRosa ($6 million), Carlos Beltran ($20 million), Cody Ross ($6 million)
It remains to be seen whether San Francisco chooses to pursue re-signing Carlos Beltran, but with the way things turned out, it would shocking if they did. Struggling to produce runs at the plate all season long, the Giants will be on the hunt for a bat such as Fielder, who can also take over the reigns at first base along with driving in runs.
Other than signing Tim Lincecum to a contract extension, San Francisco doesn’t have much else on their plate this offseason. We’ll see if that plays into their aggressiveness with Fielder.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2011 Team Payroll: $138 million
Noteworthy Expiring Contracts (with 2011 salary): Joel Piniero ($8 million), Fernando Rodney ($5.5 million); Howard Kendrick ($3.3 million)
The Angels avoided arbitration by re-signing Jered Weaver back in August, locking the star right-hander up with a five-year contract extension worth roughly $85 million, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, tries to woo the slugger to Anaheim.
They Angels will look for more starting pitching via free agency or trade this winter, but there is one clear lingering issue restraining Mike Scioscia’s ballclub from postseason contention: the ability to hit the long ball.
Stacked up against AL teams, the Angels ranked eighth in home runs (155), 10th in RBI (629) and 11th in OBP (.313), and still nearly snuck into the playoffs. With the addition of Fielder, they could be early favorites to represent the AL in the World Series next season.
While the baseball cosmos remained fixated on the critical ALCS Game 3 bout between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, word broke on Red Sox GM Theo Epstein’s job status with the club, and how he may be on the cusp of joining the Chicago Cubs.
Rumor has it, we may be just hours away from an official announcement, said Steve Buckley—a Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Herald.
According to the Buckley, the only holdup preventing the deal from materializing is how “the Red Sox are going to want “something real” in return, and how they would ideally still like to keep Epstein as their general manager.
Here’s exactly what Buckley had to say:
“Two baseball sources have confirmed that Theo Epstein is on the cusp of leaving his job as general manager of the Red Sox to accept a position with the Chicago Cubs that is believed to include powers greater than he has in Boston, with an announcement expected to be made “within the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Chicago, who fired GM Jim Hendry back in April, are certainly in need of Epstein’s services.
If the Cubs are in fact able to corral Epstein to Wrigleyville within the next few days, it may not be out of the question to suggest a colossal free-agent addition to a Chicago clubhouse desperate for leadership in talent within the next few weeks. One notable target, among many, would be free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder.
Let’s be honest: without the addition of a home-run threat to their lineup such as Fielder, 2012 doesn’t look to be any different than that of 2011. Ranking 19th in MLB in runs scored (654), 20th in home runs (148) and 21st in RBI (610). With Aramis Ramirez likely on his way out, these Cubs will need to upgrade in a huge way offensively this offseason if they expect to contend for a division crown.
Epstein has been known for his gargantuan signings in the past as a member of the Red Sox, and with the amount of payroll he’ll be able to fill up this winter, it’s certainly a possibility to suggest Fielder could be playing for Mike Quade and company in 2012.
After taking Game 1 of a highly-anticipated NLCS by a 9-6 mark, the Milwaukee Brewers looked to take their momentum into Game 2 against the streaky St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. The determination of Ron Roenicke’s crew would prove to be all for naught, as Tony La Russa and company crushed Brewer pitching on their way to an 12-3 victory, evening the series at one game a piece heading into Game 3 in St. Louis, which is set for 8:05 PM ET on Wednesday.
Here are five observations from Monday night’s 12-3 Cardinals victory over the Brewers.
Shaun off the Mark
Shaun Marcum has transformed into the dependable starter the Brewers sought to attain in the offseason. Leading all Major League starters with a 2.21 ERA on the road, Milwaukee’s steady right-hander has been a huge success for Ron Roenicke and company. Yet, Marcum’s postseason falters have nearly undermined his regular-season accolades.
In two playoff starts for the Brewers thus far, Marcum has given up 12 earned runs, 14 hits and four walks in just 8.2 innings of work. The good news is, he’ll likely have at least another shot at redemption before this best-of-seven NLCS is over. The bad news is that he has lost the confidence of many Brewers fans, and potentially his own manager.
With the addition of Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers’ bullpen ranked third in baseball with a 3.08 ERA. Monday night clearly showed Milwaukee’s flaws out of the ‘pen. Between Kameron Loe and Marco Estrada, the two combined to give up six earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched. Granted, Extrada would go on to strike out three batters in two innings of work, however, Loe would allow six hits and four earned runs in just 0.1 innings pitched.
Milwaukee’s revamped bullpen has been a staple in their success all season long, but if their performance last night is anything of what’s to come in the near future, the Brewers are in serious trouble.
Pujols Pushes the Envelope…
After largely under-performing during his NLDS bout with the Philadelphia Phillies, Albert Pujols manifested his career successes at Miller Park by going 4-for-5 with a home run and a career postseason high 5 RBI against the Brewers.
But, in all fairness, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 79 career games at Miller Park, Pujols is batting .331 with 19 HR and 54 RBI, along with a 15 IBB (intentional walks) and .597 OPS. If the Cardinals are able to push this best-of-seven series back to Milwaukee for Games 6 and 7, the Brewers had better hope they don’t leave anything over the plate to the St. Louis slugger, because he might just power them into the World Series.
…While the Rest of St. Louis Does the Dirty Work
While St. Louis’ romping of Milwaukee on Monday night may go down as Albert Pujols’ best postseason effort to date, let us not forget what Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and the rest of the Cardinals’ lineup was able to carry out.
Excluding Pujols’ extraordinary effort, Tony La Russa’s lineup managed eight runs on 13 hits against Brewers pitching, with 6 RBI to boot. Needless to say, Monday night was a exemplary illustration of just how lethal La Russa’s lineup can be when at full strength.
This Series Will Be Anything but Predictable
We’re just two games into this fervent series, and its clear that neither team has established any variety of consistency.
In Game 1, it was Milwaukee who slugged (Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt accounted for a home run) their way over the Cardinals, despite Jaime Garcia on the bump for St. Louis, who has traditionally been known for his road successes. On Monday night, it was St. Louis who broke out of its offensive shell in superficial fashion, scoring 11 runs on 16 hits against Brewer pitching, evening up this NLCS at one game a piece. If these first two contests are at all indicative of what’s to come, we may be in for a historically ludicrous series between these two bitter rivals.
Over the course of the club’s 42 years of existence, the Milwaukee Brewers have become one of the most successful organizations in developing young prospects through their minor league system. Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Jonathan Lucroy and John Axford are all quintessential models of drafting excellence in Milwaukee.
However, there is one player who stands out more so than any other prospect in the franchise’s framework: Ryan Braun.
Upon making his Major League debut back in 2007, Milwaukee’s most admired left-fielder has gone on to accomplish many noteworthy achievements, some of which have gone relatively unnoticed until recently. In fact, his rookie year alone (which would not start until nearly two months into the season) would bring about much national attention. Finishing his rookie campaign batting .324 with 34 HR and 97 RBI, Braun was named the NL Rookie of the Year.
In his next three seasons with the club (2008-2010), Braun averaged 31 HR, 107 RBI, a .303 BA and a .535 SLG. His outstanding production was enough for management to sign him to a $105 million contract extension that would make him a Brewer through 2020.
Fast forward to this season, where Braun finished just decimal points behind the Mets’ Jose Reyes for the NL batting title, with a .332 BA. He would also go on to complete his 2011 regular season with 33 HR and 111 RBI and a career-high 33 stolen bases—no doubt an MVP résumé.
He, along with Fielder, has led Milwaukee to just their second postseason appearance since 1982 and the club’s first ever NLCS appearance in impressive fashion. Through six postseason games, Braun has slugged his way to a .500 BA (11-for-22) with two home runs, five doubles, seven runs scored, eight RBI and is slugging 1.000.
Yet, somehow there’s still a debate as to who will be named the NL MVP at season’s end.
Should Braun continue to deliver the way he’s been able to so far in these playoffs, there’s no disputing he should be named NL MVP at the end of this season. It’s really that simple.
On Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals showed us all just why baseball truly is America’s favorite pastime.
In dramatic fashion, both clubs were able to successfully wrap up their respective NLDS series, prompting a vengeful 2011 NLCS matchup for the ages between two bitter rivals—these teams simply can’t stand each other. Game 1 is set for Sunday at 4:05 PM ET.
Here are seven bold predictions for the dream NLCS with the World Series just four wins away.
Tony La Russa Will Complain About Something in Milwaukee
Tony La Russa doesn’t like the Brewers, and the Brewers don’t like Tony La Russa. It’s really that simple. St. Louis’ skipper has gone as far as to claim that the Brewers are somehow getting an advantage at home by adjusting the Miller Park lighting depending on which team is up to bat. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. In this contentious best-of-seven series, it’s only inevitable that La Russa will complain about something.
Ryan Braun Will Stay Hot
Against what was supposedly one of the NL’s best pitching staffs, Ryan Braun torchedDiamondbacks pitching to the tune of a .500 BA (8-for-16), HR, 4 RBI and an unfathomable 1.431 OPS. Versus Tony La Russa and company, expect more of the same from Milwaukee’s clutch left fielder. In 325 career plate appearances against St. Louis, Braun is batting .306 with 15 HR, 47 RBI and has scored 47 times. This postseason is shaping up to be a historic one for Braun. Look for him to stay hot against Cardinals pitching in this emotional series.
Albert Pujols Will Explode at Miller Park
Miller Park has been a home away from home for Albert Pujols.
In 171 career games started in Milwaukee, Pujols holds true to a .329 BA, 42 HR (fourth-most against any single opponent), 140 RBI, 55 doubles and a 1.040 OPS. This season, Pujols batted .250 with 4 HR and 12 RBI at Miller Park. If there’s one single player who could potentially carry this streaky St. Louis ballclub, it would be Pujols. Expect him to continue his incineration of Brewers pitching in this best-of-seven series.
Nyjer Morgan Will Nearly Start a Fight
Nyjer Morgan is on his high-horse right now, which will probably equate to a magnitude of unnecessary “swag.” With the potential of seven games to be played between these two clubs, something is bound to happen.
Chris Carpenter Will Get the Better of Brewers Batters in Game 3
Coming off a thrilling Game 5 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night in which he threw nine innings of shutout baseball, Chris Carpenter will need to carry that success into this series against Milwaukee if the Cardinals are to have any shot at taking this NLCS.
This season, the 36-year-old Carpenter is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA against Milwaukee. He has also struck out 19 batters in 28.0 innings pitched. Yet for his career, St. Louis’ ace is 6-6 with a 4.58 ERA, allowing exactly 100 hits in 96.1 innings of work. This is a tough call as the Brewers are rolling offensively; however, I see Carpenter getting to Brewers batters in Game 3.
The Brewers Will Not Lose at Home
The Brewers cruised to MLB’s best home record in 2011, going 57-24 at Miller Park.
Ron Roenicke’s crew seems to now be exuding confidence after their down-to-the-wire Game 5 victory over the Diamondbacks, and that momentum should transition easily into the NLCS against St. Louis. What’s more, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 40 HR, 131 RBI and a .339 BA at home this season. It’s clear that the Brewers aren’t planning on losing at home in these playoffs.
Milwaukee Will Win in Seven Games
I predicted the Brewers would take down the Diamondbacks in five games, so I’ll try my hand at the NLCS.
First and foremost, both clubs are playing exceptional baseball right now. After just sneaking into the postseason as the NL Wild Card, the Cardinals were able to do the impossible by defeating the mighty Phillies, getting to Roy Halladay in Game 5.
However, the Brewers will have home-field advantage with Philadelphia out of the playoff picture, which does not bode well for Tony La Russa and company. Granted, these two clubs split their regular-season series 9-9, with Milwaukee outscoring St. Louis 71-64. Nevertheless, there’s simply no disputing how well the Brewers have played at home this season. Expect that to be the difference as the Brewers take the series in seven games, advancing to their first World Series appearance in 29 years.
Get up-to-the-second updates from a critical NLDS winner-take-all Game 5 between the Brewers and Diamondbacks right here!
After jumping out to an impressive 2-0 NLDS lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday night, the Milwaukee Brewers took to Chase Field in Phoenix with high hopes of sweeping Kirk Gibson and company and moving on to the NLCS, where they would face either the Philadelphia Phillies or St. Louis Cardinals. Needless to say, Milwaukee played uninspired baseball in both Game 3 and Game 4, allowing the suddenly confidence-saturated Diamondbacks to even the series at two games apiece.
Game 5 will be Friday night at 5:00 p.m. ET in Milwaukee, with a trip to the NLCS on the line.
Here are five things that must happen for the Brewers to take the series’ final matchup.
Yovani Gallardo MUST Pitch Brilliant
This goes without saying.
More or less the only Brewers pitcher to have any noteworthy success against Arizona up to this point, Yovani Gallardo, must duplicate his Game 1 performance from Saturday afternoon if Milwaukee intends to advance. Allowing just one earned run over eight solid innings of baseball in Game 1, Gallardo now boasts a career 5-0 record, 1.20 ERA and a stunning .188 BAA against these same Diamondbacks. If he can limit Arizona as he did on Saturday, Milwaukee will be on its way to the team’s first-ever appearance on the NLCS stage.
They MUST Keep Willie Bloomquist in Check
Willie Bloomquist has to be one of the most underrated leadoff hitters in the game today. In four games, Arizona’s shortstop is batting .353 (6-for-17), scored six times, walked twice and has stolen two bases. Bloomquist’s aggressiveness at the plate has become an integral part of Arizona’s comeback, and unless Brewers pitchers make a few adjustments in Game 5, Milwaukee will be watching the NLCS at home.
Carlos Gomez MUST Be in the Starting Lineup
Don’t get me wrong—I love Nyjer Morgan as much as the next guy. But, after Carlos Gomez’s exceptional performance in Game 4, I’m convinced he’s the man who should be patrolling center field for Milwaukee.
Gomez is not only immensely better defensively than Morgan, but he is the most lethal weapon on the basepaths and is playing with a colossal chip on his shoulder right now. His two-run home run and stolen base on Wednesday night proves he’s the best option, even though righty Ian Kennedy will be on the bump for Arizona. Baserunners will be crucial in this winner-take-all Game 5, and there’s no doubt Gomez is the best option.
John Axfod MUST Close the Door Late
In Milwaukee’s victories in Game 1 and Game 2, John Axford was able to close the door in convincing fashion against the Diamondbacks, recording three combined punchouts between the two contests.
Should the Brewers take a slim lead into the top of the ninth, the 28-year-old Axford absolutely must be able to shut the door the way he’s demonstrated he’s capable of doing during the regular season.
Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder MUST Show Up
It all comes down to this. After five historic seasons together, Friday afternoon’s contest in Milwaukee may be the last Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder ever play together…ever. In Game 1 and Game 2, Milwaukee’s dynamic duo combined for a .563 BA (9-for-16), including two home runs and six RBI. On the road, it was a different story, as the two combined for a .214 BA (3-for-14) while accumulating just one RBI.
Braun and Fielder are obviously Milwaukee’s biggest offensive threat, and things could get ugly fast if the two aren’t able to deliver in Game 5.