Postseason baseball is (finally) here, folks!
There's no disputing the offensive firepower that will be on hand during the enticing best-of-five series—however, it may be the unheralded pitching of both squads that will determine the outcome. Regardless, we're in for quite a treat.
Here are five bold predictions for the NLDS Series, which opens Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee.
What a start to a series, huh?
By and large, there isn't one single player in MLB who's had more to do with his team's success than Ryan Braun. In scoring 109 runs and driving home 111 RBI, Braun has accounted for a whopping 31 percent of Milwaukee's 721 total runs scored this season.
Braun's league-leading .994 OPS and .597 SLG make him the most lethal offensive weapon of any National League team in the postseason.
But wait—there's more.
In the ninth inning this season (34 plate appearances), Braun has a .412 BA with 8 RBI, 3 HR and is slugging an insane .794 with a 1.206 OPS. Granted, he has struggled against Arizona in five seasons (.220 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI, .742 OPS), but Braun has been clutch when it's mattered most this season.
This may not even be a bold prediction, as much as an interpretation of the past.
For his career, Justin Upton has struggled mightily against the Brewers. In 124 plate appearances, Upton has managed a .223 BA with just 6 HR and 12 RBI and has stuck out 27 times, compared to just 25 total hits.
It should be interesting to see how he conducts himself in his first true go-around on the postseason stage and if he can rectify his history against Milwaukee pitching.
Zack Greinke has been lights-out at Miller Park this season, and that's not about to change anytime soon.
In 15 home starts, the former Cy Young Award winner has gone 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 95 innings of work. He also leads all major league starters in strikeouts per nine innings pitched (10.54), and ranks sixth in K/BB (4.47).
If Greinke is able to get off to a fast start against Arizona (a team he has faced just once in his career), he'll have a chance just like that of former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay last season, where he tossed a no-no in his first career postseason start with the Phillies. At home.
I'm not one to make such an audacious prediction such as this, but something tells me we're in for history as Greinke makes his first career postseason start.
In all honesty, the Brewers have had their fair share of struggles this season. At the All-Star break, Milwaukee limped their way to a 16-29 road record—enough to be the worst road-winning percentage of any first-place team.
Granted, they've been able to somewhat right the ship, finishing with a 39-42 overall road record. Even so, the Diamondbacks have been largely successful at home this season, going 51-30 at Chase Field.
Shaun Marcum, who's been nothing short of spectacular on the road this season, will likely get the nod for Game 3. But, as I see it, the Diamondbacks will get the better of Marcum in Game 3.
Given the way both teams are playing heading into the postseason (Milwaukee having won five of their last six; Arizona having won seven of their last 10), we shouldn't jump to any conclusions. Both clubs are playing exceptional baseball right now, and it should be an entertaining series with a handful of clutch plays along the way.
However, with Milwaukee wrapping up the second overall seed, they'll key in on playing their best baseball at Miller Park—where they've gone an MLB-best 57-24 this season, setting a new franchise record for home wins in a season.
The dynamic duo of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder (in what will likely be their last season together), along with a slew of role-players such as Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan, should be enough to power Milwaukee past the red hot Diamondbacks.