Roundtable: Arizona Sports’ Diamondbacks-Brewers series predictions
Oct 3, 2023, 9:05 AM | Updated: 7:43 pm
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks reached the postseason for the first time since 2017 and face the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game NL Wild Card series starting Tuesday.
How good are the D-backs’ chances?
We asks our hosts and editors at Arizona Sports to make their predictions heading into Game 1.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: This is a head and a heart thing for me. The heart says D-backs, obviously. The season has been such a pleasant surprise; it would be a shame to see it end this week. That said, Milwaukee’s top-to-bottom pitching staff, even with the Brandon Woodruff injury, is superior and consistent. In a short series and the realm of a small sample size, anything goes, but it’s easier to go with the team that’s been doing it for longer.
Yes, the D-backs bullpen has improved and Brandon Pfaadt has been pretty steady of late, but their unsteady offense is trending down at the moment and that scares me a little. The key guy is going to be Zac Gallen. If he does his thing this one likely goes to a third game with Merrill Kelly on the bump. Brewers in three.
Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I think the Arizona Diamondbacks win the series in three games. I believe pitching and defense will be the difference in this series and although the Milwaukee Brewers had the best team ERA and second-best WHIP in the baseball universe, I’m not betting against Gallen and Kelly.
The fact Gallen is going to take the ball in Game 2 and the Brewers lost Woodruff with a shoulder, makes me think this series will go to Game 3. And Game 3 is typically the wildest, wild card game of any series.
Kelly will be taking the ball for the Diamondbacks in (a potential) Game 3. If there was one guy on the D-backs staff that I would want to start in Game 3 it would be the cerebral, scary Kelly. Scary is on the wall, scary is on his way. I think Kelly has a mind that is built for postseason baseball. I’ve always believed that and now we’ll find out.
I know Milwaukee won 92 games. I know they are the favorites, but I think the Diamondbacks have a little stink running out of the side of their necks that smell may ruin the Brew Crew’s October.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: The D-backs have been a fun ride this year. I mean, fun if you like roller coasters. The regular season was full of twists and turns, slow climbs and rapid drops. I even threw up when it was over.
But how equipped are the D-backs to win a playoff series against the Brewers? I’m not terrified that rookie Brandon Pfaadt is taking the ball for Game 1 against former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. I like the D-backs’ bullpen (I can’t believe I’m saying this) and I trust them going into the series. I don’t think this team will be hampered by an overall awe of being in the playoffs due to their inexperience. But I am worried about the offense.
I don’t think the team that wins this series will need to score a ton of runs to do so, but the last five games of the regular season were very discouraging to the D-backs’ hopes of winning two of three. I think ultimately the lack of consistent offense will do the Diamondbacks in.
Brewers in three.
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: The injury to Woodruff has changed my opinion about this series. I see Arizona taking Games 2 and 3 behind their aces Gallen and Merrill Kelly to win the series. I will give Milwaukee Game 1 behind Burnes. The Milwaukee ace threw a gem against Arizona in April when he shut them out over 8 innings while allowing just three hits. But Burnes also got lit up by Arizona in June when he gave up seven runs on eight hits in five innings. But being at home and on regular rest coming off a four-inning, 66-pitch performance last Thursday versus St. Louis he should be at his best. But that is it. Neither team has an offense to be feared but Arizona with its ability to take the extra base and play small ball is enough to get them over the top.
Gallen and Kelly have dominated the Brew Crew this season, combining to throw 28 innings, allowing just five runs on 10 hits and pitching to a ridiculous ERA of 1.61. The D-backs have struggled recently offensively. But the gauntlet of a 162-game season is over and a new season begins and with it a clean slate. Arizona can grind on you and put pressure on a defense. Milwaukee has an excellent defense and a great bullpen so the D-backs will have to do their damage early. But they will find ways to score and squeak out the final two games to advance to the NLDS.
Steve Zinsmeister, co-host of the Ain’t No Fang podcast: It’s been six long years since the D-backs made it to the postseason, and I didn’t expect them to make it this year. So let’s just be thankful for what we have. With that said, this team is definitely behind the eight-ball already. Heading into Game 1 without either Gallen or Kelly on the mound is less than ideal. The Diamondbacks’ offense has been stagnant in the four games leading up to the postseason.
However, one thing matches up very well with the Brewers. Milwaukee catcher William Contreras has only caught 17% of base stealers this season. Backup Victor Caratini caught only 14% of runners. Look for Arizona to run on them early and often. Ultimately, starting pitching wins in the playoffs. The injury to Brandon Woodruff is huge, which is why I believe the Diamondbacks will win Games 2 and 3, securing the upset over the Brewers.
Alex Weiner, Diamondbacks reporter and co-host of the co-host of the Ain’t No Fang podcast: The Diamondbacks and Brewers play strong defense, have bullpens throwing well and effective veteran top ends of the rotation. Neither offense has been consistently excellent, but both have proven difference-makers such as Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte for Arizona with Christian Yelich and William Contreras for Milwaukee. This could be a dogfight that comes down to the timely slug or crack in execution. A unique element here is Arizona’s speed and ability to punish teams on the bases.
Woodruff’s injury could loom large, as well, but the Brewers have a deep arsenal. All that being said, this could be a good matchup for the D-backs. Milwaukee has been the better team in the second half of the year, but Arizona’s lineup has more power in a series where a three-run home run could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Let’s go with the D-backs in three games.
Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com editor: I’m going Diamondbacks in a clean sweep all thanks to starting pitching. I think Brandon Pfaadt picks up where he left off after going 5.2 scoreless innings in his final regular season start. He had a rocky 2023 but appears to be headed in the right direction right in time for the postseason.
Taking Game 1 only gives presumed Game 2 starter and D-backs ace Gallen that much more confidence, and that’s never a bad thing.
Offensively, it’s on Carroll to set the tone early, whether it be with his hitting, base running, fielding or all of the above. It’s his time to shine.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I think Arizona can pull this off but it’ll take three games. Assuming they can wake the bats back up after the sluggish end to the regular season, their lineup is just as good — if not better — than Milwaukee’s. The Diamondbacks have the better defense, they have the more disruptive base runners and they have nothing to lose, which can be a deciding factor in these quick, three-game series.
The Brewers are a good team, but it’s not like we’re talking about the Braves or Dodgers here. And anything can happen in a short series like this. Milwaukee’s one distinct advantage was going to be their ability to run the three-headed monster of Burnes, Woodruff and Freddy Peralta out there to start every game. Which would’ve been impressive, except now Woodruff’s out with a shoulder issue. That still leaves the Brewers with two of the better starters in baseball at their disposal, but it also puts all the pressure on them to win Game 1 when Burnes is on the mound against rookie Pfaadt. Even if the D-backs lose that one, they still get to run Gallen and Kelly out there with the season on the line. If they can somehow steal Game 1, look out.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com editor: I feel like I’m playing contrarian here when I say I’m not as worried about Arizona’s offense as I probably should be. The last week of the bats going cold at the worst possible time, but we can account for the lack of offense to human nature. This young team just needed to get to the postseason.
Now, I wouldn’t be surprised that the youthful spirit lands the D-backs a win or two, even in Game 1 where Pfaadt goes against Burnes. But it doesn’t necessarily get easier with Gallen and Kelly on the mound considering the Brewers’ bullpen has enough juice to cover for missing Woodruff in Game 3.
I think the D-backs will be aggressive to the end of this thing, but it just feels like a tossup. And because Milwaukee’s been here before, logic has me predicting Brewers in three.
The Diamondbacks visit the Brewers in Game 1 of their NL Wild Card playoff series at 4:08 p.m. Tuesday. Tune to the Arizona Sports app and 98.7 to listen.