Our Milwaukee Brewers are back in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. If the last three seasons have taught us anything, it’s that not every post season birth brings the same type of expectations. 2019 and 2020 were both wild card years where the crew ended up losing to the eventual champs in round one. Sure, we all wanted and hoped for a deep run, but it wasn’t an expectation. After 162 games, we’ve learned this team can be unbelievably good, and can come up clutch in huge moments. In order to make the run all Brewer fans are hoping for, the performance of these players will be key!
2018 and 2021 are very different conversations. Both seasons saw the Brewers win their division, and play the type of baseball that wins in the playoffs. Even though the 2018 and 2021 editions finished with the same amount of regular season wins (95), there seems to be more hope for this years team than ever before.
The Brewers rotation has been historically good all season, with starter after starter rolling out to the mound with a 4.22 ERA or lower (The number is 3.22 if we exclude Brett Anderson). The bullpen has been consistent outside of the final stretch of the season, which can be chalked up to a couple of injuries. The offense even got into the mix after a slow start to the season.
Player 1: Aaron Ashby
As soon as Devin Williams went down with a broken hand, there was cause for concern about the Brewers bullpen. Sure, Hader has been dominant all season, but getting to him is the problem. Brad Boxberger was very good for the majority of the season, but showed some cracks down the home stretch. As important as he may be, Aaron Ashby may be even more important.
Outside of a two inning performance against the Cards and his last outing of the season against the Dodgers, Ashby has been borderline dominant. His ability to strike batters out and keep the base paths clean is crucial. Not only is he important to potentially come in late, but because of his ability to pitch multiple innings.
Starters typically have a very short leash in the playoffs. When you only have five or seven games to play with, every game is important. Having a guy that can come in and lock down a few innings in the event that a starter falters, is huge. His versatility and overall skill ceiling makes him a key piece!
Player 2: Jake Cousins
Another reliever you ask? Absolutely. Having a lock down and versatile bullpen in October is important to teams trying to make a deep run. It’s even more important for teams that have struggled to score runs at times. This is something that has plagued the Brewers throughout the season.
Cousins hasn’t pitched since the 23rd of September thanks to a bicep injury. He is expected to be ready to go for game one against the Braves. Jake came out of no where this season to be an extremely important part of the bullpen. His ability to keep hitters off balance and be another dynamic arm at the back end of games could be huge. If he can limit his walks and pitch with confidence, Cousins is a guy we’ll see out there in crunch time starting Friday.
Player 3: Willy Adames
Willy may seem like an extremely obvious choice, but it doesn’t make it any less true. The Brewers lineup is full of hitters that when hot, have the potential to carry an offense. The same can be said for Willy, but his value goes beyond what he can do with his bat.
Hit ability to play a great shortstop, and be the internal spark plug that all great teams have is huge. When he is hitting the ball hard and being a force in the lineup, the Brewers offense is better. Even with that, it seems like the Crew as a whole look like a more well oiled machine with a happy Willy Adames. He is keeping the dugout light, hyping up his teammates, and getting the crowd involved.
Player 4: Tyrone Taylor
The last player on this list may seem like an odd choice, but stick with me. The Brewers have 2 outfielders that we should see out there every game in Yelich and Garcia. The third spot is where things get interesting as Cain hasn’t been much of a world beater on offense this year. However, he could be a great late game, defensive sub. Tyrone Taylor could be a great option early in games to add some pop to the offense.
Taylor was out with an injury for about a month starting in late August. With that, we saw JBJ get more playing time, and the offense come to a grinding halt. Taylor may not be a world beater with a bat in his hands, but he brings a lot more pop than Cain and Bradley Jr. (and honestly Yelich as well). He makes this lineup that much deeper.
If opposing pitchers have to worry about Wong, Yelich, Garcia, Adames, Escobar, Narvaez and Taylor, that only leaves one at bat outside of the pitcher where they can theoretically catch their breath.
To Make a Run
To make a run, the Brewers as a team need to be playing well. They don’t have 1 or 2 players that can carry them in a series. Their rotation needs to keep them in games, the bullpen needs to finish games, and the offense needs to produce runs. With the 4 players mentioned playing well, the Brewers get versatility, energy, defense, pop, and a heck of a lot of skill.