Braves vs Brewers
Pitching v hitting. Who wins this year?
In recent years when do you think of you would think of the Milwaukee Brewers you would have thought putting offense and pretty good starting pitching. Times are changing in Wisconsin.
Some of the Brewers biggest bats are no longer so big or have left the team all together. Christian Yelich is back from injury but so far has not returned to his MVP caliber form.
Fortunately for the brew crew there pitch eating pitching has been among the best in all of baseball. Pitching is certainly a great quality to have as lineups to get shorter and every out has more importance.
The Braves on the other hand are a modern-day murderers row of offense with their top five hitters being able to take over a game at any time. Austin Riley, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and Dansby Swanson all have at least 27 home runs.
Riley and Freeman are both .300 hitters, which means if one of them can’t drive in a run, the other probably will. Albies is solid. Swanson strikes out way too much and will likely be a liability. Riley strikes out too much too, but when he makes contact, the ball finds the grass or the seats.
Ronald Acuna has 24 in only a half season of work, but he’s on the injured list. The rest of the other players farther down the lineup are also able to do damage but also weren’t on the field for much of the year. Right fielder Jorge Soler is hitting .346 over his last seven games after missing two-thirds of the season. Trade acquisition Joc Pederson is a lefty, but has the unusual splits of hitting 30 points better versus left-handed pitching, but his power numbers are much higher against righties. Utility player Ehire Adrianza is equally good from both sides of the plate and hits well with runners on base. It’s pretty obvious he focuses more on contact in those situations compared to when no one is on. If he could set the table for the bottom half of the lineup more often, he would be much more valuable.
On the mound, Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson are all capable and give them a chance to win. The problem is the bullpen. Only Richard Rodriguez (3.12), Jesse Chavez (2.44), Luke Jackson (1.98) and Will Smith (37 saves, 3.44 ERA) are what you would call reliable. They’re great for one game, maybe two. But three in a row? That will be rough if one of the starters gets shelled early and everyone else is giving up at least a run every two innings. That’s a problem.
Fortunately for them, the Brewers’ offense is hardly intimidating. Christian Yellich has not been the same since going on the IL with a back ailment in the spring. Avisail Garcia is probably the biggest threat (.262 ave., 29 homers), or Willy Adames with 46 extra-base hits in 99 games. They’ll have to scratch out runs, which will be helped by virtue of having the fourth-most walks but hurt by the fact they have the third-worst batting average in all of baseball.
Their focus is on pitching and if it fails, they are toast. They are third in walks-and-hits-per-innings-pitched and they have four super strong starters with ERAs lower than 2.81. Besides Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta there is also Eric Lauer and Adrian Hauser (3.19 and 3.22). Long relief will not be a problem. Josh Hader blew only one save. Maybe this is the year he doesn’t blow the big one in the postseason.
This is a toss-up. Home field advantage is the tie-breaker.
Prediction: Brewers in five.