Good Sunday morning to you. You know what? The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t lost a game over the past two weeks, taking ten straight to end the season, win the division at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and finally the first two games of their divisional series over the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park.
The Crew could have lost that extra regular season game, and then the Wild Card game on Tuesday (that they didn’t end up having to play), and I could be writing a postmortem on the 2018 season. And the Cream City Nine could lose the next three to the Rox and I’ll be writing it next week. My guess is that they ain’t done yet, and next week we will be talking about whether or not the Big Bad Dodgers can take two of three in LA to avoid losing the NLCS to those upstart Brewers. Optimism can be fun!
The weather looks cold and damp for the next two days in Denver, but it also looks like complete baseball games can be wedged in amongst the raindrops. Get a roof!
TOP HITTING STORY: Mike Moustakas has etched his name into Brewer lore with a walk-off base hit in game one of the divisional set to top the Rockies, and then pulling a base hit to add an insurance run in the eighth inning of game two. In thirteen plate appearances on the week (I’m including last Monday’s win over the Cubs, even though the stats count for the regular season), Moose had four hits and a walk, with a double, and a run scored. He drove in three. That’s a .333/.385/.417 slash, with an OPS of .802. Not the highest OPS, there, but sometimes it’s WHEN as much as HOW MUCH.
Moustakas adds real depth to the Milwaukee lineup. I’m hoping that he and the Brewers can reach agreement either on an extension or another season with the mutual agreement clause of his current deal.
Honorable Mention: Are you tired of watching and/or reading about Christian Yelich yet? Me neither. Yeli had the same number of plate appearances as Moose (13), and had five hits in nine official at bats with that homer from game one of the NLDS. He also walked four times (get used to that), and stole a base. My math says: .556/.692/.889, OPS of 1.581. Just another normal week for a rather good candidate for MVP in the National League.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Jhoulys Chacin won two of the three games the Brewers played this week, working Friday on three days rest for the first time in his career - minors or majors. I bet he pitched every day when he was a kid, though. The free agent acquisition from last winter continued to pay huge dividends by working 10.2 innings on the week and giving up just one run on four hits. He walked five and struck out six. Wins aren’t a thing? These were. His ERA was 0.84 and his WHIP was 0.84...symmetry are us. If it comes down to a game five in the NLDS, we’ll see the big righty again on Wednesday. Otherwise, he’ll open up the NLCS next Friday.
Honorable Mention: lots of guys to choose from, but Brandon Woodruff’s “start” in game one against Colorado was a thing of beauty. The initial out-getter went three hitless, scoreless innings with just a walk and three strikeouts. It set the tone for the game, and even that uncharacteristic hiccup from Jeremy Jeffress in the ninth can’t dim the memory of Woody’s outing.
And kudos to JJ for his bounceback two inning save Friday night.
IMHO: Craig Counsell (and the rest of the Milwaukee management staff) have seemingly managed their first round playoff roster exceedingly well. They have set up the pitching staff for success, playing to the strength of the squad (the bullpen) and generally pushing the right buttons to win the first two games. All fourteen position players have been to bat at least once.
We shall see if the mix and match management of the pitching staff can take today’s game against the Rockies and give the staff some needed time off before next weekend’s series, which would also avoid the Crew facing Colorado ace Kyle Freeland at all. Of course, German Marquez is no slouch. Nothing is going to be easy from here on out. The Tigers are not on the schedule, and that wasn’t easy either!
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Erik Kratz’ huge two out, two run base hit that doubled the Milwaukee edge to 4-0 in the eighth inning Friday has brought some well-deserved attention to the veteran journeyman catcher, and he has handled it with aplomb. When asked about his clutch at-bat after the game, he responded “Do you mean the strikeout, or the hit?”. Kyle gave us a nice rundown on the long, strange trip Kratzy has been on in his major (and minor) league career. Jack Stern summed things up nicely:
I think Kratz’s work with the pitching staff has been criminally underrated. He’s not going to do much with the bat, and he doesn’t have the flashy throwing arm that Pina has. But he’s still been a valuable piece, and there’s a reason why he catches nearly every start by Chacin, Miley, and Davies. Pretty cool to see him finally get a chance (in the playoffs!) after bouncing around for so long.
There are no unimportant members on the Milwaukee 40 man. Those that aren’t on the NLDS roster contributed during the regular season in one way or another; I suspect if the Crew continue on in this postseason there will be several more “minor characters” who find themselves in the spotlight. He’s not really minor, but here’s hoping Wade Miley is as successful as the two initial out-getters were.
So, another excruciating game this afternoon, this time in Denver in front of a raucous Rockies crowd. And, depending on how that goes, maybe another mile-high game after that (but hopefully not). Lots of talk about the Colorado bats waking up in the high altitudes. I’m hoping that the Brewer bats are just a bit more alert than theirs.
See you next week!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference