Finally, it's all decided: After one of the craziest nights in baseball history we now know that the Cardinals are the NL Wild Card and the Brewers will face the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. If you're looking to make a road trip next week, there are still thousands of tickets available for game three and four of the series in Arizona. Some are selling for as little as $12.
As of this writing, Major League Baseball still hasn't publicly announced when the Brewers will play on Saturday, which is absolutely absurd. LaTroy Hawkins thinks it's going to be 12:30, but that's the best we can do right now. Whenever the two teams take the field we know it will be Yovani Gallardo vs Ian Kennedy. You know that and much more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the Pennant Chase. The Brewers, by the way, have home field advantage in a playoff series for just the second time in franchise history and the first since the 1982 ALCS.
Thankfully, MLB has decided on an NLDS logo. Jordan Schelling has a picture of it being painted onto the field at Miller Park.
59% of voters in this week's BCB Tracking Poll think Zack Greinke, not Gallardo, should be getting the ball on Saturday. Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker has a look at Gallardo's recent hot streak, though, and when you take that into consideration it's hard to get too worked up over the decision.
Greinke was pretty good on short rest last night, leaving the Brewers a somewhat difficult decision: Since he only threw 74 pitches it's feasible he could pitch on short rest again in game two on Sunday. Or the Brewers could go with Shaun Marcum and let Greinke work on a day of extra rest in game three on Tuesday. Either way, Greinke is the first pitcher since 1985 to win eleven home games and lose none. Vaughn's Valley says the Brewers need to lock him up long term.
Greinke's interesting statistical anomalies continue to draw attention: David Pinto of Baseball Analytics has a look at his tendency to give up a lot of hits on balls in play and ties it to his above-average desire to avoid walks.
Other notes from the field:
- Prince Fielder received a standing ovation as he was removed during the ninth inning of what will likely be his final regular season home game as a Brewer.
- Zack Greinke recorded his 200th strikeout last night, making the 2011 Brewers the first team in franchise history to have two players pass that mark.
- The pitching staff as a whole racked up 1257 K's this season, finishing one short of last year's franchise record.
- Carlos Gomez, Jeff Locke and Zack Greinke are leading FanGraphs' Star of the Game voting.
- The Polish Sausage won the regular season's final Sausage Race.
- 41,976 fans paid to see last night's game, allowing the Brewers to set a new franchise record with 3.071 million tickets sold this season.
- It came down to the season's final day, but the Brewers did finish with more home wins (57) than the Astros' total wins (56).
The Brewers are off today, but planning to celebrate their postseason appearance at the Summerfest grounds at 4 this afternoon. Susan Kim of TMJ4 has a reminder to be careful out there: There will be a wind advisory in effect starting at 3.
Ryan Braun fell just a hair short of winning the batting title last night, so perhaps he'll be forced to settle for the NL MVP. Over 60% of voters in this B-Ref poll think Matt Kemp deserves the award, but over 50% think Braun will get it. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com is also making the case for him, while the Brewers are distributing he and Prince Fielder's resumes.
The events surrounding Braun losing the batting title have drawn some attention: Jose Reyes led off the first inning with a bunt single and was lifted for a pinch runner, ending his season at .337. Jack Moore of Disciples of Uecker has a look at the decision. Francisco Rodriguez was asked about it but took the high road, as did Braun. Tyler Lockman of FS Wisconsin notes that no Brewer has ever won a batting title, but Braun is the fifth Brewer to place second.
Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel's blown save for Atlanta allowed John Axford to finish tied for the NL lead with 46 saves. He's the third Brewer ever to lead the league and the first since Rollie Fingers did it with 28 back in 1981.
It Is About The Money Stupid named Doug Melvin the NL's best GM in 2011.
- Rickie Weeks (eight) and Randy Wolf (nine) won Plunk Everyone's prestigious awards for players hit by and hitting batters with the most pitches in parks named after beer.
Now that the Brewers are in the postseason, it's time to start talking about how far we can expect them to advance. Nick Prill of The Brewers Bar says the Brewers are strong in a few statistics that occasionally predict playoff success.
If you're reading this you probably don't need any encouragement, but this is a good time to be on the Brewer bandwagon. Lewie Pollis of Beyond the Box Score crunched the numbers and named the Brewers October's third most likeable team. The Diamondbacks and Rays edged them out for first.
Those of us who have been on the bandwagon all along probably have a headstart here: Miller Park Drunk has a preview of the Brewers' playoff beards.
This week's postseason matchups will feature two teams with recently overhauled pitching staffs, and Mike Bauman of MLB.com has a look at how that led them to success.
Looking back a day, people are still talking about the Brewers' massive power display on Tuesday. Rickie Weeks had the day's slowest home run trot (26.01 seconds) following his monster blast off the NYCE Stadium Club, and Fielder trotted in 21.59, 22.64 and 22.79 seconds following his three shots.
The 2011 Brewers have done a lot this season to escape the shadow of the 1982 team, but is it time to take it one step further? Justin Hull makes the case that the Brewers and their fans should leave the retro logo in the closet during the playoffs and celebrate this team's success in the current-era gear.
If you'd like to show your Brewer pride in your yard, here's one way: Time Warner Cable is handing out free Brewer yard signs at locations across Wisconsin on Friday.
In the minors:
- Amaury Rivas underwent surgery yesterday to remove a bone spur from his elbow. I haven't seen it said directly but I'd assume he'll be fine in time for spring training.
- As part of his All Questions Answered thread John Sickels of Minor League Ball listed Michael Fiers, Caleb Gindl, Taylor Green, Wily Peralta and Cody Scarpetta as Brewer prospects who "could all do something interesting" next season. He said the Brewers should give Fiers a chance to win a job, and as always he answered my question on Zelous Wheeler.
- The Brewers are projected to select 28th in the 2012 MLB Draft, assuming they don't lose their pick for signing a Type A free agent. They'll likely also receive compensation picks for Prince Fielder.
Indians: Bench coach Tim Tolman has resigned due to health concerns.
Royals: Bench coach John Gibbons and pitching coach Bob McClure will not return in 2012.
White Sox: Hitting coach Greg Walker has resigned.
We laughed at the trade at the time (and I'm still not convinced it was a contributing factor to their success), but Rany Jazayerli got me thinking about the Colby Rasmus deal: The Cardinals were 55-49 when the trade was made, and 35-23 after.
Think you had a rough day yesterday? Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis had to leave his team's final game with a "pelvis contusion." Ouch.
Meanwhile, Craig Counsell had a great day: He picked up a pinch hit and Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez took him out of the record book by finishing the season with 46 consecutive hitless at bats.
Today in baseball economics: The Mets are almost certainly cutting payroll this winter, but the amount could be much more than expected: Metsblog is reporting they might spend less than $100 million on players next season. Their opening day payroll for 2011 was $142mm. Their free agent shopping list might be limited to one giant, scary frog.
Here's an interesting statistical note you may not have heard: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro finished the year with 207 hits and is the youngest player ever to lead the NL in that category. You know that and more if you've read this morning's edition of Around the NL Central.
Mark your calendar now: The 2012 major league season will open on March 28-29 when the Mariners and Athletics play a two game series in Japan. The games will feature a likely matchup between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui...although maybe not much else.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make a call.