National League Playoff Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

Ian Kennedy makes the Diamondbacks slight favorites in Game 1, while they are underdogs for the series

The Arizona Diamondbacks enter the post season as one of baseball’s hottest teams, riding the strong arm of staff ace Ian Kennedy and the hot bat of Justin Upton. They’ll need Kennedy and the rest of the staff to be on the top of their game against a strong hot hitting Brewers’ offense. Kennedy has a legit chance to win the Cy Young. While the rest of the Diamondbacks’ pitchers are no where near as good as Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter are having pretty darn good seasons as well, and will keep the Diamondbacks in games.

Game One Odds: ARI (31/25), MIL (25/36)

Odds to win Word Series: ARI (14/1), MIL (15/2)

Odds to win NL: ARI (6/1), MIL (15/4)

 

The Brewers have improved their poor pitching and that is the reason they are in the playoffs, when many expected their offense not to be enough to carry them with such weak pitching. While the Diamondbacks pitchers may be better, it is the Brewers’ rotation that has the superior winning stats, due to the run support. The Diamondbacks walk a lot less batters than the Brewers, though, so that always makes scoring against them a more difficult proposition.

Relief pitching will play a big role in this series, too, as both teams boast great cloers in the Brewers’ John Axford and the Diamondbacks J.J. Putz. Putz’ 2.17 ERA has allowed him to convert 45 of 49 saves for the Diamondbacks, which is about the most you can ask of any closer. Axford, however, has an even lower ERA at 1.95 and has converted 46 of 48 opportunites himself. The Brewers actually have the slightly better pen with a 3.32 ERA vs. the Diamondbacks 3.71.

The Brewers’ improved pitching is the reason they are favored in this series. Most baseball pundits don’t expect the Diamondbacks to have much of a chance in this series, but if they can manage to get the same hot hitting from Upton while their pitchers rule the mound, an upset is possible. They will also need strong performances from rookie Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill, who they acquired in a mid-season deal. At 14/1 odds, the Diamondbacks make a pretty good long shot bet, if you’re into making highly speculative bets.

Milwaukee is still a long shot themselves, but with Prince Fielder possibly playing his last games as a Brewer, they will have to play well to persuade him to come back. Brewers’ pitchers Zach Greinke and Shaun Marcum will have to pitch well, not to mention the staff ace Yovani Gallardo.

It is the Brewers’ offense that gives them the chance though. Fielder, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks are all powerful hitters, and Corey Hart has been hot too. Braun and Fielder combined for a .315 average with 71 homers between them, 231 RBIs (!), 357 hits, 204 runs…and 74 doubles. Not bad, huh?

In game one the Diamondbacks are favored, as they should be with Kennedy on the mound. The rest of the series will be a lot easier once they get past the game one jitters and move past Kennedy to the “more human” pitchers that the Diamondbacks will trot out after game one. The Brewers 15/4 odds are a pretty good value for the World Series victory, though it will be their pitching that will determine their fate. Everyone knows the Brewers can hit, but offense isn’t enough to win titles, and their improved pitching will be the factor in determining how far this Brewers team goes.

Milwaukee was awesome at home this year, though, winning over .700 at the friendly confines of Miller Park. It was their road record that was less than impressive, as they went under .500 away from Miller. Arizona has been a lot more consistent between home and away, but if the D-Backs can manage to steal a game at Miller, it could prove to be fatal for the Brewers, who will be forced to pull off a tough post season win on the road. Still, that is an unlikely scenario and the Brewers should take care of business, though it may take the full number of games to do so….

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Posted by on Sep 30 2011. Filed under Baseball, Headlines, Sports Handicapping. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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