The Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals will face off tomorrow night in the one-game Wild Card showdown, taking place in the nation’s capital by virtue of the Nats finishing in the top Wild Card slot during the regular season with a 93-69 record.
The current format with the Wild Card play-in game has been in place since 2012. In 2014 the Royals edged the Athletics 9-8 in 12 innings and then went on to win the American League pennant, losing the World Series to the Giants. In 2016 Toronto walked off the Orioles on an eleventh inning three-run homer by Edwin Encarnacion for a 5-2 victory. In 2017 the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies 11-8 in a game that saw Arizona build an early 6-0 lead, then have to hold on and fend off Colorado. And of course, there’s the 2014 San Francisco Giants, who won the Wild Card game and became the (so far) only team to take the play-in game and turn it into a World Series victory.
Before matching up in the contest, both teams will have to pare down their rosters from the 40-man behemoths of September down a 25-man active roster. This group of players is usually anything but typical, however, since the roster is set for literally this one game. There is no need to have a full five-man pitching rotation, with increased bullpen options and specialists off the bench becoming more critical. Right now, all we know for sure is that Brandon Woodruff of the Brewers will oppose Max Scherzer of the Nationals, and everything else is still up in the air.
So let’s take a stab at building the 25-man Wild Card game roster for the Milwaukee Brewers:
Nothing too extraordinary here. The “A” bullpen is all present after starter Brandon Woodruff. Jordan Lyles gets a nod because he’s been the ace starting pitcher all second half, and Gio Gonzalez earns a spot for his long-relief work in September. The last spot was a bit tougher to determine, but I went with Houser after he threw only 48 pitches on Sunday against Colorado. Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Ray Black are probably the most notable omissions here.
Again, nothing too outlandish. In fact, this is basically every healthy infielder on the 40-man roster besides Jacob Nottingham, David Freitas, and Travis Shaw. Tough to make a postseason roster case for any of those three players.
Once again, every healthy outfielder is here. Not too much to think about.