The Arizona Diamondbacks have made the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and will meet the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game NL Wild Card series beginning Tuesday.
What are the prospects for the D-backs?
We asked our Arizona Sports presenters and editors to submit their predictions for Game 1.
Burns & Gambo co-host Dave Burns This is a head-and-heart issue for me. Obviously, the heart indicates D-backs. It would be a pity to see the season conclude this week since it has been such a nice surprise. Having said that, Milwaukee’s pitching staff is better and steady, especially with Brandon Woodruff out. Anything goes in a short series within the domain of a tiny sample size, but it’s simpler to go with the squad that’s been doing it for longer.
Yes, the D-backs bullpen has improved, and Brandon Pfaadt has been quite consistent recently, but their shaky offense is now moving downward, which worries me. Zac Gallen will be the pivotal figure. If he does his thing, this one will very certainly go to a third game, with Merrill Kelly on the mound. Three brewers.
Wolf & Luke co-host Ron Wolfley: The Arizona Diamondbacks should win the series in three games. I feel pitching and defense will be the deciding factors in this series, and despite the Milwaukee Brewers having the highest team ERA and second-best WHIP in baseball, I’m not betting on Gallen and Kelly.
Because Gallen will start Game 2 and the Brewers lost Woodruff to a shoulder injury, I believe this series will go to Game 3. And Game 3 is always the most unpredictable game in any series.
Kelly will pitch for the Diamondbacks in (maybe) Game 3. If there was one player on the D-backs staff I would start in Game 3, it would be the smart, frightening Kelly. terrifying is on his way, terrifying is on the wall. Kelly, I believe, has a mentality made for playoff baseball. That’s something I’ve always suspected, and now we’ll find out.
I’m aware that Milwaukee won 92 games. I know they’re the favorites, but I believe the Diamondbacks have a stench running down the side of their necks that might destroy the Brew Crew’s October.
Bickley & Marotta co-host Vince Marotta: This year’s D-backs have been a lot of fun. I mean, it’s entertaining if you enjoy roller coasters. The regular season was full of twists and turns, leisurely ascents and quick descents. I even puked when it was finished.
But are the D-backs prepared to win a postseason series against the Brewers? I’m not scared that youngster Brandon Pfaadt will start Game 1 against past Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. I like the D-backs’ bullpen (can’t believe I’m saying this) and have faith in them heading into the series. I don’t believe this squad will be handicapped by a general sense of wonder at making the playoffs owing to their inexperience. However, I am concerned about the crime.
I don’t believe the side who wins this series will need to score a lot of runs, but the D-backs’ chances of winning two of three were dashed in the final five games of the regular season. I believe the Diamondbacks will fail due to a lack of consistent offense.
Burns & Gambo co-host John Gambadoro Woodruff’s injury has altered my mind about this series. I believe Arizona will win the series by winning Games 2 and 3 behind aces Gallen and Merrill Kelly. Milwaukee gets Game 1 behind Burnes. In April, the Milwaukee starter shut out Arizona over eight innings while surrendering just three hits. However, Burnes was also blasted by Arizona in June, when he allowed seven runs on eight hits in five innings. But, being at home and on regular rest after a four-inning, 66-pitch outing against St. Louis last Thursday, he should be at his best. But that’s all there is to it. Neither club possesses a fearsome offensive, but Arizona’s ability to take extra bases and play small ball is enough to put them over the top.
Gallen and Kelly have crushed the Brew Crew this season, pitching a combined 28 innings while allowing just five runs on ten hits and posting a 1.61 ERA. The D-backs have struggled offensively lately. But the grind of a 162-game season is done, and a new season, with a clean slate, starts. Arizona has the ability to grind on you and create pressure on a defense. Milwaukee has a strong defense and a strong bullpen, so the D-backs must strike early. They will, however, find ways to score and win the last two games to move to the NLDS.
Steve Zinsmeister, co-host of the podcast Ain’t No Fang: The D-backs haven’t reached the playoffs in six years, and I didn’t think they’d make it this year. So let us just be grateful for what we have. That being said, this squad is already behind the eight-ball. It’s hardly ideal to go into Game 1 without either Gallen or Kelly on the mound. In the four games leading up to the playoffs, the Diamondbacks’ offense has been stale.
One item, though, fits up quite nicely with the Brewers. This season, Milwaukee catcher William Contreras has caught just 17% of base stealers. Only 14% of runners were apprehended by backup Victor Caratini. Arizona will likely run on them early and frequently. In the end, beginning pitching triumphs in the playoffs. Because of Brandon Woodruff’s injury, I feel the Diamondbacks will win Games 2 and 3 and pull off the upset against the Brewers.
Alex Weiner, Arizona Diamondbacks reporter and co-host of the Ain’t No Fang podcast: The Diamondbacks and Brewers have great defense, good bullpens, and seasoned top ends of the rotation. Neither offense has been consistently great, but key players like as Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte for Arizona and Christian Yelich and William Contreras for Milwaukee have proved to be game changers. This might be a battle down to the last slug or crack in execution. Arizona’s quickness and ability to punish opponents on the bases make them stand out.
Woodruff’s injury might also be a factor, although the Brewers have a strong bullpen. Having said that, the D-backs might benefit from this matchup. The better club in the second part of the season has been Milwaukee, but Arizona’s lineup has more power in a series where a three-run home run may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Let’s take the Diamondbacks in three games.
Tyler Drake, editor of ArizonaSports.com: All credit to beginning pitching, I’m going Diamondbacks in a clean sweep. Brandon Pfaadt, who went 5.2 shutout innings in his last regular-season start, should continue where he left off. He had a tough 2023 season, but he looks to be on the right track just in time for the playoffs.
Taking Game 1 just boosts likely Game 2 starting and D-backs ace Gallen’s confidence, which is never a bad thing.
Carroll must establish the tone early on offense, whether by hitting, base running, fielding, or all of the above. It is now his turn to shine.
Wolf & Luke co-host Luke Lapinski I believe Arizona can do it, but it will take three games. Assuming they can re-energize their bats following a lackluster finish to the regular season, their lineup is as good — if not better — than Milwaukee’s. The Diamondbacks have the stronger defense, more disruptive base runners, and little to lose, which may be a determining factor in these short, three-game series.
The Brewers are a decent club, but we’re not talking about the Braves or Dodgers. In a short series like this, anything may happen. Milwaukee’s one clear edge was the opportunity to open every game with the three-headed monster of Burnes, Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta. Which would have been remarkable if Woodruff hadn’t been sidelined with a shoulder injury. That still leaves the Brewers with two of the best starting pitchers in baseball, but it also puts all of the expectation on them to win Game 1 against rookie Pfaadt. Even if the D-backs lose, they still get to play Gallen and Kelly with the season on the line. Look carefully if they manage to steal Game 1.
Kevin Zimmerman, editor of ArizonaSports.com: When I say I’m not as concerned about Arizona’s offensive as I should be, I feel like I’m being a contrarian. The final week of the bats becoming cold came at the worst possible moment, but we can blame it on human nature. This youthful squad just needed to make it to the playoffs.
Now, I wouldn’t be shocked if the D-backs’ young vigor wins them a game or two, even if Pfaadt faces Burnes in Game 1. However, even with Gallen and Kelly on the mound, the Brewers’ bullpen has enough energy to compensate for the absence of Woodruff in Game 3.
I believe the D-backs will play aggressively till the finish, but it’s a tossup. And since Milwaukee has been here before, logic dictates that the Brewers will win in three games.