Milwaukee Brewers: 6 Biggest Questions Facing the Brew Crew in the Playoffs

Elyssa GutbrodContributor IOctober 1, 2011

Milwaukee Brewers: 6 Biggest Questions Facing the Brew Crew in the Playoffs

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    The Milwaukee Brewers have reached the playoffs, claiming the title of NL Central Division champions for the first time ever.

    Now that they’re into the territory of making history for the team, why stop there? Is it possible that the Brewers could go all the way to the World Series for the first time in almost 30 years?

    On the eve of the Brewers’ first playoff game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, it is not difficult to believe that this year’s Brew Crew could have the magic touch to win it all.

    Unfortunately, back in reality, we need to recognize that there are some serious questions that the Brewers must find answers to as they navigate the mostly-uncharted waters of the MLB playoffs. In the following six slides, we will explore some of those burning questions.

Where Will Prince Fielder Be in 6 Months?

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    This question may not seem important this year with first baseman Prince Fielder guaranteed to take the field for the duration of the playoffs, but it is.

    This is a game that is all about focus. Fielder’s sudden decision last month to tell the media that this is his last year in Milwaukee has shifted the focus of the fans, the media and his own teammates from the immediate picture of their playoff run to the bigger picture of next year’s team.

    He has single-handedly handicapped his team.

    His comments are quickly becoming past news, but after a season of “maybes” regarding his return, you can bet that everyone will carry a small seed of doubt about Fielder and his dedication to the team as they head into the playoffs.

Can the Pitchers Keep Rolling?

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    Great pitching this year is one part of the equation that brought Milwaukee to the playoffs. There is absolutely no question about that.

    What the Brewers pitching rotation lacked in the beginning of the year in big names (Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo were easily the two most recognizable starters), they have more than made up for in sheer grit and determination.

    Every one of their starters has had his chance to rise to the occasion when the chips were down this year, and most of them have done so admirably. John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez have done a pretty good job in cleaning up and closing out games.

    The problem is, this isn’t the regular season anymore: this is playoff baseball. All bets are off now, which could spell trouble for a group of pitchers who have, for the most part, never come this far before.

Can the Brewers Win a Series Against the Diamondbacks?

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    During the regular season, the Brewers were able to dominate the majority of teams over the course of a series. There were just six teams that were able to hold the Brewers to a losing record.

    The Diamondbacks were one of those teams, eking out a 4-3 edge during the series.

    For that matter, three of the other teams the Brewers might encounter in the playoffs (the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees and the Tampa bay Rays) were among the six.

    Throughout the season, the Brewers have had trouble finishing games against a scrappy Diamondbacks team. Now that we’re in playoff mode, it’s easy to believe that the Diamondbacks will come up with even more creative ways to pull out unlikely victories.

    The Brewers need to tread carefully here.

Is Rickie Weeks in Playoff Shape?

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    In a normal year, this question would be absolutely ridiculous.

    Rickie Weeks has been a staple of the Milwaukee Brewers offense for years, and the truth is that he is one of the best in the league at his position.

    This year isn’t a normal year for Weeks, though. This year, Weeks spent weeks rehabilitating an injured ankle instead of playing baseball.

    His time out shows. Since he has come back, his production with the bat has dropped dramatically. He’s struggling to finish games, and has admitted that he will battle soreness in his ankle for the rest of the year.

    That kind of injury nags at a player, bringing down his level of play. Will Rickie Weeks be able to pull himself out of his slump to help the team?

Will Nyjer Morgan Play?

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    Nyjer Morgan watched the final game of the season from the dugout with an injured shin. There is no indication that he won’t go tomorrow, but there also isn’t much indication that he will play.

    Despite his sometimes inappropriate behavior on and off the field, Nyjer Morgan is an asset to the team. He’s an extremely agile fielder, and his prowess at the plate has helped Milwaukee to many of their wins.

    The Brewers have to hope that Morgan is in shape to play tomorrow, or by Sunday at the very latest. It's not that they can't win without him, but they are better able to win with him.

Who Should Be the Leadoff Hitter?

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    There has been a lot of change in the air this season as Milwaukee struggles to settle on a leadoff hitter. For a while it looked like Rickie Weeks could be their go-to man—but then he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for weeks.

    Since then, the Brewers have tried a number of different lineup configurations to determine which one works the best.

    They need to stop the merry-go-round of leadoff hitters and settle on a batting lineup that will see them through the playoffs.