MLB Playoffs 2011: Scouting the Milwaukee Brewers
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As a Houston Astros fan, I have seen enough of the Brewers. That lineup brought nightmares to the pitchers and to fans alike. However, they had a stronger pitching staff than most people give them credit for. In fact, it may end up being their team strength.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you already know about Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. One of them might end up winning the NL MVP this season. The odds point towards Braun. He finished second in the league in hitting and also became the first Brewer to finish with 30 or more home runs and 30 or more stolen bases in the same season.
Fielder is a bigger name simply because he is a free agent after the season. He has handled the pressure of playing for a contract and the pressure of answering questions with as much class and grace as one could expect. Yet, the two have more support than you might think.
Corey Hart has played a good third fiddle in a unique role this year. He spent most of the season batting leadoff. His skill set provided a unique combination for the position, but he played a lot better when he was moved to that slot. Rickie Weeks bats in between Hart and the twin studs to give the Brewers a very strong top of the lineup.
The rest of the lineup falls off a bit, but they are all playing well in the second half. Jonathan Lucroy will never compare to Johnny Bench, but he has improved offensively this year. Yuniesky Betancourt may resemble Edward Scissorhands in the field, but he has been raking of late. Additionally, Nyjer Morgan and Casey McGehee have been playing better down the stretch as well.
The Brewers added two very good starting pitchers before the season. Everyone focuses on Zack Greinke for good reason, but Shaun Marcum has also been very strong. Yovani Gallardo has been strong again as well. Randy Wolf doesn't knock anyone over with his stuff, but he is a solid fourth starter for playoff purposes.
The hopes of the Brewers reside with Greinke and Gallardo. Both are capable of dominating and they must do that against a very strong Diamondbacks rotation. If the series goes all five games, their depth in starting pitching will come in handy.
The Brewers also have a deeper bullpen then a lot of people give them credit for. Everyone knows about John Axford after his brilliant campaign, but they also have Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez. He has bitched, moaned, and complained about his role, but he has playoff experience and that will come in handy.
Latroy Hawkins also has a ton of experience and is ready to serve as the 7th inning guy. When you have three guys like that with a solid rotation that is often all that you need. Yet, they have a deeper pen than that. Kameron Loe has also been very good this season. If they have any weakness it could be the lack of a good lefty. Sergio Mitre is basically all they have in that department.
The club brought in Felipe Lopez to fill in for Rickie Weeks and now he gives them infield depth. Craig Counsell and Jerry Hairston Jr. are also there to provide good depth. Carlos Gomez is actually superior to Nyjer Morgan defensively if anyone can believe that. Additionally, Mark Kotsay provides solid depth off the bench as well.
The Brewers have a very balanced team, but as Braun and Fielder go so go the Brewers. The matchup against the D-Backs should be very entertaining. At this point, it is very difficult to pick. I tend to lean Brewers in five, but I can just as easily see them falter against a strong D-Backs rotation.
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