After the Cardinals historically monumental collapse to the Mets just minutes before I typed this up, the Brewers postseason birth in almost imminent. (Knock on wood, I mean it.) With multiple scenarios yet to play out, the rotation and the Brewers schedule is anything but set in stone. Hell, the team still has to knock 2 games off their magic number. So, assuming Milwaukee can clinch the division within these next six games, here are the probables scenarios from my mind–take into account I’m no Ron Roenicke; just a 16 year old that watches too much baseball.
Scenario: Brewers win NL Central, finish ahead of Arizona, host NLDS vs. Atlanta
Why not start with the best-case scenario? The Brewers are currently 1 game ahead of Arizona for the second seed in the National League and would play the **current** NL Wild-Card leader Atlanta. Both teams may have to send out some of their top pitchers for the final series of the season, but that won’t have much effect on the way the rotations settle in for the Playoffs.
Clinching the second seed is incredibly important for Milwaukee, because that will allow Zack Greinke and his undefeated home record to start Game One. If the Brewers open in Philly or Arizona, Shaun Marcum or Yovani Gallardo would get the nod. Here is how I see the rotation shaping up if Milwaukee opens at home.
Game One: Greinke
Game Two: Gallardo
Game Three (@Atlanta): Marcum
Game Four (if necessary, @ATL): Wolf
Game Five (Home): Greinke
Note: If St. Louis overcomes a 2 game deficit to Atlanta in the Wild Card, the Brewers play Arizona regardless of whether Milwaukee or Arizona has the better record. Also, the tiebreaker for the second seed goes to Arizona, who won the season series 4-3.
Scenario: Diamondbacks finish ahead of Brewers, open series at Philadelphia or Arizona
If the Diamondbacks finish ahead of Milwaukee and get the second seed and the current standings hold in the Wild Card, the Brewers will open up in Philadelphia. Yikes. This adds further reason that every game from here on out is important. The below is the rotation I would see shaping up if the Brewers open up on the road, regardless of who Milwaukee plays.
Game One: Marcum
Game Two: Gallardo
Game Three (home): Greinke
Game Four (home): Wolf/Marcum on 3 day’s rest
Game Five: Marcum (if not used in Game Four)/Gallardo
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
A look at the Brewers offense would show you that this team could make the Playoffs and beyond on just their lineup and an average pitching staff.
The SWAT Team’s (Nyjer Morgan’s nickname for the offensive attack of the Brewers) sidekick holds the key to reaching the NLCS and the World Series, though let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
After an abysmal 2009 and 2010 season for starting pitching in Milwaukee, GM Doug Melvin took to the market and traded for former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Blue Jays ace Shaun Marcum. In addition, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf returned as the only bright spots from the 2010 rotation. With many skeptical about lefty Chris Narveson, he proved those wrong with a 9-6 record and 4.31 era in 2011.
In any Playoff series, manager Ron Roenicke would send out Greinke, Marcum, Gallardo, and Wolf (not in that order, particularly) with Narveson in the bullpen. The Brewers are trying this move out even in August with Narveson not scheduled to start in over two weeks. With the successes of Wolf and Marcum on the road, even without much road run support for these two, Roenicke should have Greinke, then Gallardo pitch the first two home games.
Not only does the SWAT team match up with any offense in the National League, but the pitching is equal, if not better. While I’m not going to go in depth on why the pitching is better, but Alec Dopp of Bleacher Report did.
Currently atop the National League, the Phillies rotation would be Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Earlier in the season, Milwaukee beat Halladay and had Cliff Lee on the hook for the loss, showing they can beat the Phightin’s. A four-game series at Miller Park in September may be an NLCS preview.
They say “pitching wins in October”, and this is very true for Milwaukee. Even with Texas’ explosive hitting last year, their surprising pitching staff carried them to the World Series. This very much could be the case.