Led by Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers Could Surprise this October

Christian Yelich

Led by Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers are heading back to the postseason for the first time since 2011 after clinching a wild card spot with a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. This team has come a long way in the last few years by nurturing young talent in the minors and making smart trades to acquire guys that could contribute immediately.

Led by Christian Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers Could Surprise this October

At the deadline, the Brew Crew acquired several players that have added some firepower to their lineup. They received Curtis Granderson from the Toronto Blue Jays, while also getting Jonathan Schoop from the Baltimore Orioles. Both players have struggled since coming over to the Brewers, but despite that, they are both quality players who could come alive in the postseason. Schoop has a little bit of postseason experience, while Granderson has been around the block several times with many different organizations.

Leading the way offensively is Christian Yelich, who is surely going to be the NL MVP. He is having the best season of his young career, leading the Brewers with 33 homers, 104 RBI, and an impressive .321 average.

Let’s first take a look at Milwaukee’s pitching staff and see if they have what it takes to lead them into a deep playoff run.

Pitching

Milwaukee’s starting pitchers have struggled to pitch deep into ballgames this season, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt them too much. Their staff has a 3.76 team ERA, which ranks them ninth in the big leagues. Both Chase Anderson and Jhoulys Chacin have eaten up the majority of the innings as starters. Anderson is 9-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 158 innings. He’s also struck out 128 hitters in that span. Anderson doesn’t overpower with his fastball but instead relies on his command and off-speed stuff. Chacin has thrown 187 innings this year, compiling a 15-8 record with a 3.56 ERA. He relies mostly on a slider and sinker. Chacin doesn’t throw very hard either, relying more on movement and his command. Rounding out the rotation this year has been Wade Miley and Junior Guerra. Miley just returned from the DL in mid-July but has been lights out since with a 2.32 ERA in 15 starts. Guerra has a sub-four ERA in 139 innings pitched this year. He’s been pretty up and down all year but will look to get the job done come playoff time.

Bullpen

The bullpen is the part of their staff that has been outstanding this year. Three guys, in particular, have filled the void between the starters and their set-up man/closer.  Lefty Dan Jennings has been one of their go-to arms, especially in lefty-lefty situations. The 31-year old has a 3.21 ERA this year in 64 innings. Hard-throwing Corey Knebel has dominated this year out of the pen, striking out 81 in just 52.1 innings. He’s also recorded 16 saves this year.  Lastly, Taylor Williams. The righty has been good in relief for the Brewers, bringing the mid-90s heat. He’s struck out 57 batters in 52 innings but does have a 4.10 ERA and 25 walks in that span. He tends to get wild at times and lets the heater get up in the zone which results in him getting hit around.

Closers

If those three can hold the lead for Milwaukee, they have one of the best set-up man-closer combinations in the big leagues. Josh Hader could be the most exciting young reliever in all of baseball. The youngster has struck out an astounding 140 hitters in just 79 innings. His mid-to-high 90s fastball from the left side has outstanding late life and jumps on hitters. He has been practically untouchable all year long. Hader also has 11 saves this year.  Jeremy Jeffress has been solid in the closer role when called upon with 13 saves in 18 opportunities. The hard-throwing righty has also featured out of the pen earlier in games this year, splitting time with Hader and Knebel as they have rotated in a sense when it comes to the closer role.

Milwaukee’s starting pitching hasn’t been as good as some teams, but they have a lot of good arms to bring out of the pen. Three guys who can potentially close out games, and a handful of others who can come in to relieve starters and prevent damage.

Offense

Milwaukee’s bats will make or break them when it comes to this year’s playoffs. Yelich has torn the cover off the ball this year, leading the offense day in and day out. Lorenzo Cain is enjoying a great season in his first year with Milwaukee, hitting .310 with 10 homers and 37 RBI. The speedy outfielder is also a threat on the basepaths, swiping 30 bags this year. First basemen Jesus Aguilar has emerged as a vital part of this offense. The 6 foot 3 slugger has gone deep 34 times this year and driven in 105. He’s also hitting .275. Those three have taken care of the majority of Milwaukee’s offense this year, but there are others who have also done their part. Travis Shaw has been impressive at the hot corner, playing solid defense and also slugging 31 homers this year.

You also can’t forget that Ryan Braun is still playing in Milwaukee. Although he’s been up and down all year, he’s still a guy who brings a powerful bat and experience. Braun has smacked 18 home runs this year while hitting .249. Other guys who they have on their bench are names like Mike Moustakas, Granderson, Tyler Saladino, etc. Moustakas has playoff experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals so he will know how to handle the postseason pressure. Schoop is always there ready to come into a game at second base. He’s a solid defender and has proven in the past that he can swing the bat well. Eric Thames, who hit 31 homers last year, only has 16 this season but can definitely contribute offensively.

The key to their offense will be consistency. Since they will have to play a one-game wild-card matchup to punch their ticket into the NLDS, they will need to be ready to swing the bats immediately.

Can they make a run?

Milwaukee has a lot of depth on their bench offensively and defensively that a lot of clubs don’t have. It will come in handy come playoff time. Between their solid bullpen with a wealth of arms and a powerful offense led by Yelich, the Milwaukee Brewers could be a contender this postseason.

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