Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Milwaukee's Four Aces

At the beginning of the MLB season, there were rants and raves around the baseball world about the pitching staff in Philadelphia. After all the Phillies had a formidable staff starting with one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last 20 years in Roy Halladay and followed it with Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Phillies’ homegrown ace Cole Hamels. It’s hard to argue against the idea that this set of pitchers is one of the most complete staffs that has been seen in baseball. The Phillies have three legitimate Cy Young candidates and are currently the best team in MLB as far as wins go.

The Brewers were considered the second best staff but were a staff of more than capable two slot starters. And Milwaukee and Philly both filled those roles well heading into the All-Star break, but something happened to Milwaukee that changed the shape of pitching in the NL around the break, the addition of Francisco Rodriguez. Since that point it seems that the Brewers starters have a new determination to pitch above their ability on paper and carry leads into late innings where a fierce Brewer bullpen has made it near impossible for teams to put a dent into the Brewers team ERA past inning 6.

Since the All-Star break, the Brewers actually have the best team ERA in the MLB at 2.89, where Philly sits at 3.27. Granted the dominate bullpen has assisted that ERA to become the best in baseball since the middle of July, but the Brewers staff has certainly assisted that mark helping the team go 32-11 in that mark (6 wins better than Philadelphia).

Possibly the only thing making the Brewers better than K-Rod could have done, is the absolute dominance by ace Zack Greinke. Greinke’s second half numbers have been past astounding, with a 6-2 record and a 2.35 ERA despite a 7 run outing, he has been the Major League’s best pitcher during that time, making it feel like a second coming of CC Sabathia in Milwaukee, carrying the Brewers down the stretch into the best playoff run in franchise history. Greinke’s absolute destruction of oppositions can be shown at his impressive 1.01 WHIP and .208 Opponents BA.

Greinke has even been better than the ungodly destructive Roy Halladay. Halladay, although nearly as good carries a 4-2 record with a 2.91 ERA, .6 points above Greinke’s in that same time span. Halladay has been a bit more touchable during that time with a 1.17 WHIP and a .271 opponent batting average. Halladay is a notorious inning eater as a pitcher, but has 20 innings less than Greinke since the break in one less start.

The rest of Milwaukee’s staff has been fantastic in the same period. Yovani Gallardo has carried a dominant line of 5-3 with a 2.59 ERA, 54 K’s in 59 IP and a WHIP of 1.02, marking his territory as the second ace in the Brewers’ staff. Randy Wolf has carried a stunning line of 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 55.1 innings. While Shawn Marcum, the hero of the first half for Milwaukee has a pedestrian (in comparison) stat line of 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and a WHIP of 1.13 in just 50.2 IP.

When you compare this to the Phillies, the Brewers’ staff lines up just a tad better. Cliff Lee has actually been the Phillie closest to Greinke with a 5-1 record and a 2.40 ERA, Hamels follows very close to Marcum at a 2-3 record but a 3.60 ERA (with some time on the DL) and the winning edge comes in when Oswalt starts going 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA.

Looking at this, should the NL come down to a fight between the Phillies and Brewers in a 7 game CS series you would feel great. Especially with Milwaukee’s unbeatable home record, the Phillies seemed backed against a wall.

It’s time to stop giving the Phillies national recognition and realize, the Brewers over the last 43 games are the best team in baseball, and lined up to be the best team in the MLB playoffs. It’s time for Milwaukee to get optimistic of their baseball team.


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