Brewers scoreboard watching: The final ‘wild’ weekend
This weekend, the Milwaukee Brewers are Los Angeles Dodgers fans.
The Brewers’ path to the playoffs is simple. They can only claim the second wild card in the National League and they need some help to do so.
First, of course, they need to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. A sweep is maybe not necessary, but certainly preferred. Then Milwaukee needs the Dodgers to defeat the Colorado Rockies — on the road.
Any combination of Brewers’ losses and Colorado wins that adds up to two, and Milwaukee is eliminated. So at worst, L.A. needs to win at least two of three against the Rockies (meaning the Brewers would have to win all three games in St. Louis), or, better, sweep (meaning the Brewers would have to win two of three to tie and three to claim the second wild-card spot).
The Dodgers still have something to play for — World Series home-field advantage, although one win will wrap that up. St. Louis is in spoiler mode.
This is prime scoreboard watching time. Here’s a look at each of the three-game series and the scheduled pitching matchups:
Brewers at Cardinals, 7:15 p.m.
Chase Anderson vs. John Gant
Anderson has pitched well all season (11-4, 2.81 ERA, 1.117 WHIP) and he’s been good in his last four starts, allowing five runs (four earned) in 22 2/3 innings. He’s faced St. Louis twice this season, allowing three runs on two hits in six innings on Aug. 30 at home, and giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings at Busch Stadium way back on May 4 (just one of five times in 24 starts he allowed four or more runs).
Twenty-five-year-old Gant, a right-hander, has made just six appearances this season for St. Louis with one start on Sept. 24, in which he went just three innings. This is shaping up to be a bullpen game for the Cardinals. In 12 1/3 innings, Gant has allowed five runs on 10 hits with seven walks and eight strikeouts.
Dodgers at Rockies, 7:10 p.m.
Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Chad Bettis
Ryu hasn’t made it past the fifth inning in three of his last four starts — 2 1/3, 4 2/3, 6 and 4 innings. He’s faced Colorado three times this year, and lost all three, only once making it to the sixth inning. Overall this season, Ryu is 5-8 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.332 WHIP. He’s also allowing 1.4 HR/9, which, along with the numbers given previously, doesn’t bode well for a start in Colorado.
This will likely be a game of bullpens as Bettis also has pitched into the sixth inning just once in his last six starts (and that was just 5 1/3 innings). He had been struggling since allowing three runs in seven innings against Milwaukee back on Aug. 19, but gave up just one run in 4 2/3 innings in a loss at San Diego on Sept. 23. This one is a toss-up.
Brewers at Cardinals
TBD vs. Luke Weaver
Up next in Milwaukee’s rotation is Zach Davies and if the season is on the line, you’d figure him to get the start here. However, the Brewers list him for Sunday. If the postseason is still a possibility, would Craig Counsell move that start to Saturday or rely on what would likely be a bullpen game? The last two times Milwaukee needed a fifth starter, the Brewers threw out Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Wilkerson. It’s doubtful the 28-year-old rookie Wilkerson would get the nod, but we have no doubts it would be all hands on deck if Milwaukee goes this route. Side note: Yeah, Jimmy Nelson’s season-ending injury was big.
Weaver had an amazing run from Aug. 2-Sept. 20. In eight games (seven starts), he didn’t allow more than two runs in any appearance, with a 1.61 ERA over 44 2/3 innings. St. Louis won all eight of those games. But then in his last start at home against the Cubs, the 24-year-old right-hander was torched for eight runs in three innings. His season ERA jumped from 2.05 to 3.23. Weaver is 7-2 with a 1.132 WHIP and 11.0 K/9 as well. He’s beaten the Brewers twice this season, both times at Miller Park, allowing two runs in each. If Milwaukee still has a shot at the postseason Saturday, if Weaver reverts to previous form, this won’t be an easy task.
Dodgers at Rockies, 7:10 p.m.
Clayton Kershaw vs. German Marquez
If Milwaukee is still alive come Saturday night, at least on paper you have to like their chances to make it to Sunday. Kershaw is one of the game’s best pitchers, sporting an 18-4 record, 2.21 ERA, 0.930 WHIP and 10.5 K/9 this season. Kershaw has beaten Colorado three times this season, including once at Coors Field (7 IP, 2 R). Colorado did tag him for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in their last matchup on Sept. 7 in L.A. In his career at Coors Field, Kershaw has a 4.58 ERA.
Marquez (11-7, 4.38 ERA, 1.385 WHIP) is coming off two pretty solid outings, allowing three runs in six innings against San Francisco on Sept. 19 and two runs in five innings vs. San Diego on Sept. 24. Both of those starts, though, came on the road. Marquez has a 4.60 ERA at home in 2017, serving up 14 home runs in 74 1/3 innings.
Brewers at Cardinals
Zach Davies vs. Carlos Martinez
As mentioned, the Brewers list Davies as their probable starter for Sunday. If the playoffs are on the line, he’s the guy you want on the mound. Davies has been great in the second half of the season, although he did not fare well in his last start (three runs, four innings), but was battling an illness just to pitch. Davies has faced the Cardinals three times this season — Milwaukee winning all three games — twice in St. Louis. His last start against the Cards came June 15 at Busch Stadium, when he allowed four runs in five innings. But as mentioned he’s been a better pitcher in the second half (2.87 ERA) and is much better on the road (2.50 ERA, 1.149 WHIP in 17 starts) compared to Miller Park (5.84, 1.583 in 16 starts).
Once again, if the Brewers still have a postseason chance come Sunday, St. Louis isn’t going to make it easy. Martinez, who made the All-Star Game, is 12-11 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.220 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. However, Milwaukee has faced him four times this year and won three of those games … but St. Louis’ lone win came at home, when Martinez allowed one unearned run in seven innings on May 2. Martinez has a 7.31 ERA over his last three starts.
Dodgers at Rockies
TBD vs. TBD
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has indicated this will be a bullpen game for Los Angeles as Yu Darvish and Alex Wood will pitch simulated games to prepare for the postseason. If Kenley Jansen pitches, that’s probably a good sign for the Brewers.
Going by Colorado’s rotation, Tyler Chatwood would be next in line for the Rockies. Chatwood is 8-14 this season with a 4.65 ERA and 1.449 WHIP. However, he has a 5.94 ERA at home with 10 homers allowed in 69 2/3 innings. The Dodgers have pounded him for nine runs in 12 2/3 innings in 2017. Tyler Anderson (6-6, 4.81, 1.326) also could be used, as he’d have had four days’ rest between starts. The left-handed has been better at home (4.14 ERA, 1.282 WHIP) than on the road (5.44, 1.366), however he’s given up 16 runs (14 earned) and 21 hits in 18 innings to L.A. in 2017.
Finally, if it turns out that the Brewers and Rockies would need to play a one-game playoff to see who gets to play the one-game wild-card matchup, right now it would match up Brandon Woodruff and Jon Gray.