Brewers on brink of NLCS after shutting out Rockies
The Milwaukee Brewers are one win away from the MLB National League Championship Series after blanking the Colorado Rockies 4-0.
Milwaukee shut out Colorado in game two to take a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series on Friday.
The Brewers and Rockies were locked in a 1-0 battle until the eighth inning, when Mike Moustakas plated a big run with an RBI single and Erik Kratz plated two with a Texas Leaguer, which made the score 4-0 and insurmountable for Colorado.
Jeremy Jeffress got a bit of redemption too, as he closed out the game allowing just one hit in the ninth.
Expect the unexpected
Who would have thought the NLDS between the Brewers and the Rockies would be the lowest scoring series of the first round of the playoffs?
Someone who understands these two teams, that is who.
All joking aside, it really is a surprise these two teams have been embroiled in low-scoring, highly strategic pitchers' duels. The Rockies and Brewers were seventh and 12th in runs, fourth and eighth in home runs and fifth and ninth in slugging percentage, respectively. Add that to Miller Park being perceived as one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in MLB and one would think this would be a series with a lot of runs scored.
However, look to the Rockies and you will see why it is not.
Colorado are a much better pitching team this year than in past seasons with a starting rotation that has high ground-ball pitchers and a bullpen with serious power arms. While Milwaukee do not have that rotation which puts fear in the hearts of opponents, they do have a seriously good, high-strikeout bullpen and a better rotation than some might think.
It is not as stark as some would like to make it, but the first two games of this series have been played in Milwaukee so the run scoring might not be quite as high as when the series heads to Coors Field on Sunday.
Either way, these games have been low scoring and close and that may have caught some people off guard.
Chacin: MLB's best free agent starting pitcher signing?
No, he is not.
That title will go to Miles Mikolas of the St Louis Cardinals, who was dominant in his first year back in the United States. However, Jhoulys Chacin has a legitimate argument to be the second best after going 15-8 with a 3.50 ERA in 35 starts and 192.6 innings pitched in the regular season.
He also has had the best postseason of any free agent starting pitcher as he tossed five shutout innings on Friday and (while this was not the postseason, but it contributed to it) he also tossed 5.6 innings of one-run ball in the playoff for the Central Division and helped the Brewers win said division for the first time since 2011.
Plus, he has given up just five hits in his last 15 innings to go with two runs. That is flat-out fantastic.
Chacin may not have been MLB's best free agent starting pitcher signing, but he has been absolutely vital to the Brewers' success this season.
Better than the Dodgers?
No, we are not saying anyone are better than the Los Angeles Dodgers, but what we are asking is, could this year's Brewers bullpen be better than the Dodgers of last season?
Los Angeles' bullpen last year featured a fantastic Kenley Jansen, a newfound dominant set-up man in Brandon Morrow, two solid lefties in Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson and Kenta Maeda, who slipped to the pen for the postseason alone. The Dodgers' bullpen finished the season third in WAR (7.6), fourth in ERA (3.38), fourth in FIP (3.55), third in K/9 (10.24) as well as at or near the top in a slew of other categories.
This year's Brewers finished fourth in WAR (7.1), fifth in ERA (3.47), third in ground-ball rate (46.8) and third in K/9 (10.28).
They feature fireballers Corey Knebel and Josh Hader along with more veteran guys like Joakim Soria and Jeffress, who make up for their diminished velocity with their savvy on the mound.
It is hard not to see comparisons between the two teams from this year to last year, and it is easy to see how Milwaukee could employ their bullpen similarly to how the Dodgers did last season on the way to the World Series as Los Angeles never let a single pitcher get past the seventh inning and only allowed two to get into the sixth.
This may be the formula to get the Brewers to the Fall Classic.