The MLB playoffs are here and one of the most intriguing matchups is the National League Division Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams are coming off impressive seasons, but only one can advance to the NL Championship Series. Here is a preview of the series, which begins on Thursday, October 5, 2023, at American Family Field in Milwaukee.
How they got here
The Diamondbacks were one of the surprise teams of the season, as they clinched their first playoff berth since 2017 and finished with a 90-72 record, good for the second wild card spot in the NL. They were led by a young and dynamic offense, featuring stars like Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly, Daulton Varsho, and Pavin Smith. They also had a solid pitching staff, anchored by ace Zac Gallen and closer Jhoan Durán. The Diamondbacks defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, 5-3, thanks to a clutch three-run homer by Marte in the eighth inning.
The Brewers, on the other hand, won their fourth consecutive NL Central title, posting a 96-66 record, the best in the league. They had a dominant pitching staff, headlined by Cy Young candidate Corbin Burnes and reliever of the year Josh Hader. They also had a balanced offense, with MVP candidate Christian Yelich, Willy Adames, Avisaíl García, and Omar Narváez leading the way. The Brewers had a relatively easy path to the NLDS, as they swept the San Diego Padres in the NL Wild Card Series, outscoring them 15-4 in three games.
Key players to watch
For the Diamondbacks, the key player to watch is Marte, who had a breakout season, hitting .321 with 32 homers, 101 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases. He was the catalyst of the Diamondbacks’ offense, and he showed his clutch gene in the NL Wild Card Game. He will need to continue his hot hitting against the Brewers’ tough pitchers, especially in the middle of the order.
For the Brewers, the key player to watch is Burnes, who had a phenomenal season, going 18-4 with a 2.43 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 269 strikeouts in 202 innings. He led the NL in wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts per nine innings (12.0). He was virtually unhittable at times, and he will start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. He will need to set the tone for the series and shut down the Diamondbacks’ potent lineup.
Strengths and weaknesses
The Diamondbacks’ strength is their offense, which ranked fourth in the NL in runs scored (789), third in batting average (.263), and second in homers (236). They have a lot of power and speed, and they can score in bunches. They also have a decent bullpen, which ranked sixth in the NL in ERA (3.68) and fifth in saves (46). Their weakness is their starting rotation, which ranked 11th in the NL in ERA (4.32) and 10th in innings pitched (853.1). They lack depth and experience, and they will face a tough challenge against the Brewers’ hitters.
The Brewers’ strength is their pitching, which ranked first in the NL in ERA (3.22), WHIP (1.16), and strikeouts (1,551). They have a formidable rotation, featuring Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Adrian Houser. They also have a lockdown bullpen, led by Hader, Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and Jake Cousins. Their weakness is their offense, which ranked 10th in the NL in runs scored (718), 12th in batting average (.241), and ninth in homers (198). They have some star power, but they also have some inconsistency and injury concerns.
This series will be a clash of styles, as the Diamondbacks’ offense will face the Brewers’ pitching. Both teams have some advantages and disadvantages, and the series could go either way. However, based on the regular season performance and the recent momentum, the Brewers have a slight edge over the Diamondbacks. The Brewers have home-field advantage, a deeper and more experienced rotation, and a more reliable bullpen. The Diamondbacks have a dangerous offense, but they will have a hard time scoring against the Brewers’ elite pitchers. The Brewers will win the series in four games, advancing to the NLCS for the second time in four years.