The Brewers led the National League in home runs during the regular season with 185. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun led the way with 38 and 33, respectively. In Milwaukee's Game 1 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Fielder jacked a two-run bomb against D-backs ace Ian Kennedy.
Looking ahead to a possible NLCS matchup between the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies, I think the ability of Fielder and Braun to hit the long ball will be key. Especially early in games against the trio of Phillies aces—Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
As the Cardinals showed in Game 1 of their NLDS matchup against the Phillies, it's possible to get to Roy Halladay early. Lance Berkman smacked a three-run bomb in the first inning, getting to Halladay before he could get into his usual dominating rhythm.
Although St. Louis wasn't able to hold their early lead, the way they jumped ahead early could be an indication of what it will take to beat the Phillies as the playoffs progress.
If the Brewers are to beat Philadelphia in a possible NLCS showdown, the key will be getting to Halladay, Lee and Hamels early. If those guys are able get into a groove quickly they tend to mow down opposing lineups with ease.
The Brewers lineup is ideally suited to striking early. Corey Hart, the leadoff hitter, got on base at a .356 clip in the regular season. Nyjer Morgan is almost identical in the No. 2 slot with a .357 OBP.
Incidentally, the only two Brewers regulars who get on base more often are actually Fielder and Braun, at .415 and .397, respectively.
With Hart and Morgan setting the table, the Brewers big boppers should have the chance to strike quickly against the Phillies starters. If they can capitalize on early opportunities, the Brewers will have a legitimate shot to knock off the heavily favored Phillies.
Minimizing mistakes and not letting golden opportunities slip away will be necessary against a Phillies team which appears to be nearly flawless. Their lineup may not have a one-two punch quite like Braun and Fielder, but it's loaded with All-Stars and former MVPs from top to bottom. The Brewers have an excellent rotation, but not quite up to the Phillies' standards.
Because of the challenges the Brewers will face in a possible NLCS matchup against Philadelphia, taking the early lead against the vaunted Phillies rotation will be the key to victory for the Brew Crew. In order to do so, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder will need to step up and capitalize with power early in the ballgame.