After Tuesday’s thrilling 13 inning affair (Tony F Wolters, anyone?), the Rockies will drive north to Milwaukee to take on the red hot Brewers. The Brewers have won eight straight, including a tiebreaker for the NL Central on Monday against the Cubs, and haven’t recorded back to back losses since September 15-16 against the Pirates. The Rockies, however, are also pretty red hot, winning 10 of 12 to make the postseason.
Milwaukee hasn’t been to the playoffs in a while; their last playoff berth was 2011 when they won the NL Central, and they haven’t been to the World Series since 1982, when they were still in the American League (they lost).
The Rockies and Brewers played each other seven times this season, and Milwaukee won five of those games. Antonio Senzatela will start for the Rockies on Thursday against the Milwaukee bullpen and Tyler Anderson is expected to start Game 2 on Friday.
Ride the momentum
Both of these teams have immense momentum going into this series. The Brewers beat the Cubs on Monday 3-1 after making a last minute push to clinch the NL Central and the Rockies just finished up a true Wild Card game on Tuesday after losing their tiebreaker on Monday. The Brewers have had two days to rest while the Rockies have had just one (as well as three consecutive games in three different time zones), so depending on which takes over — an extra game to springboard or time off to reset (think 2007 World Series...sorry guys) — could determine how this series pans out.
Step up to the plate
The Rockies have plenty of players capable of contributing both offensively and defensively. However, one in particular has had a great year against the Brew Crew: Trevor Story. In 27 at bats, he is slashing .333/.387/1.222, and all nine of his hits have been of the extra base variety (a double, a triple, and seven home runs), to drive in 18 runs. By hitting seven home runs in seven games against the Brewers, he is the fifth player in Rockies history with seven or more home runs against a non-divisional opponent in a single season.
David Dahl has been heating up over his last few starts, going 12-for-46 with seven extra base hits (a triple and six home runs) in his last eleven regular season games, including five home runs in five consecutive days from September 24-28. He’s looking to bounce back from a rough Tuesday night, when he finished 0-for-5 and had a few miscues. He is a career .294/.351/.382 hitter against the Brewers with only one extra base hit (a home run on May 13, 2018) in 34 at bats but he has three hits (including the home run) in seven at bats this season. Dahl should get a good look at the Brewers this weekend and hopefully be able do some damage on both sides of the ball.
The Brewers’ rotation has been their weakness all season (17th in team fWAR, worst among remaining playoff teams), to the point where they’re playing Game 1 as a bullpen game. However, despite how that sounds, the Brewers do have an excellent bullpen (4th in team fWAR). They are led by Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel. Considering Josh Hader has the fifth most innings pitched (81 1⁄3) of anyone on their roster, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they might lean on him heavily. He also strikes out his opponents at a rate of 46.7% and has held them to a .131/.220/.265 line. Jeffress has pitched 76 2⁄3 innings this year and has an ERA of 1.29. Knebel has an ERA of 3.58 and a strikeout rate of 39.5%.
The aim will be for the Rockies offense to jump on Brewers pitching early and let their own pitching and defense (particularly the infield defense) hold the Brewers offense.
Neutralize the threats
Speaking of the Brewers offense, they have plenty of players that can do damage against the Rockies.
Travis Shaw: The Brewers third baseman had a bit of a down year in his second season in Milwaukee. He has a line of .241/.345/.480 — down from .273/.349/.513 from 2017 — with 32 home runs and 86 RBI (down from 101 in 2017). However, against the Rockies he managed a slash of .357/.400/.821 with five extra base hits out of ten (a double and four home runs).
Christian Yelich: New Brewer and MVP-candidate Christian Yelich has been tearing it up since being traded to Milwaukee in January. He’s had a breakout campaign in 2018, hitting .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs and 110 RBI, two short of the lead in homers and one shy in RBI. Against the Rockies in 2018, he’s hitting .333/.394/.533 with one home run, which came on August 3 at Coors Field.
Lorenzo Cain, Jesús Aguilar, and the still potent bat of Ryan Braun round out Milwaukee’s offensive threats. Those are the guys who, over the course of a season, will hurt you most. In a five-game series, it could be their version of Tony Wolters though (watch out for Orlando Arcia!).
Let’s have some fun!
Both teams are blazing hot with high powered offenses who can do a lot of damage all over the board. However, the Rockies have a better pitching staff overall than the Brewers do, so as long as they score early and the pitching holds, they have a good shot of coming out on top. Overall this should be a really fun series!
Game 1: Thursday, October 4th, 3:07 pm MDT, in Milwaukee
Game 2: Friday, October 5th, 2:15 pm MDT, in Milwaukee
Game 3: Sunday, October 7th, 2:37 pm MDT, in Denver
Game 4: Monday, October 8th, Time TBD, in Denver (if necessary)
Game 5: Wednesday, October 10th, Time TBD, in Milwaukee (if necessary)