With the NLDS impending, we figured it would be good to get a few opinions from somebody who didn’t think all Brewers all the time. I asked Tyler Emerick, the proprietor of Snakes of Jefferson who also covered the Brewers during spring training this season, some questions on the upcoming series.
I also answered some questions with Tyler, which you can see here.
JM: On May 4th, the Brewers and Diamondbacks were 13-17 and 13-16 respectively. Since then, they (again, respectively) hold the first and third best records not only in the NL but in baseball, with the Brewers going 83-49 and the Diamondbacks going 81-52. The date isn’t an arbitrary one – that’s the date Zack Greinke debuted for Milwaukee. Was there any similar turn for the Diamondbacks around that date, whether it was a player returning or heating up, or did everything just click?
TE:A couple things come to mind. First off, Joe Saunders had an awful, I mean awful, April. He was 0-3 with a 5.93 ERA, giving up 35 hits in 27.1 innings. Since, he’s got an ERA of 3.22. While he may not be the guy Arizona hoped for when they got him in the Dan Haren deal, having at least a veteran third starter really helped the team a lot. The other major blimp during the stretch was Josh Collmenter making the move from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He got his first start May 14 against the Dodgers, throwing six shutout innings and defeating Chad Billingsley 1-0. The spark he provided might have lit the fire under the D-backs for the rest of the year.
JM: How do you think the rotation will set up and should be set up for Arizona? After Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson, it gets a little hazy. I, for one, would pitch Josh Collmenter in game three and probably go with Kennedy on short rest in game four, and try to avoid using Joe Saunders if at all possible – he’s bad, and the Brewers crush left-handed pitching.
TE:As crazy as it sounds, and as unpopular as it might be, I’d go with Joe Saunders in game three, Ian Kennedy in game four and avoid Josh Collmenter at all costs. I know Collmenter didn’t allow a run to the Brewers in 14 innings but I just can’t seem to trust him. His delivery, in my book, is still the only thing he has going for him. And I believe Milwaukee will spend enough time the next few days figuring it out. I can’t imagine the Brewers not hitting him a third time around. In Collmenter’s first two outings against San Diego, he didn’t allow a run either. In his next two starts against the Padres, he gave up nine earned runs on 15 hits in 11 innings. The second and third times San Francisco saw Collmenter, the Giants scored seven runs off him in 12 innings. The second and third times Los Angeles saw Collmenter, the Dodgers scored 11 runs off him in six innings. See the trend? I feel like that would continue if the Brewers got to face Collmenter again in game three. Saunders at least has some postseason experience. But yes, you’re right, it’s very murky for Arizona after game two.
JM: Paul Goldschmidt has filled what was initially a gaping hole at first base. He’s no Prince Fielder yet, (although I think he has a very bright future) but his .250/.333/.474 line was a far sight better than what Juan Miranda or Xavier Nady were going to give the team. Goldschmidt really struggled down the stretch, though, striking out seven times in 23 AB and going .174/.296/.304 in his last seven games. Regression to the mean, or do you expect a bounceback in the playoffs?
TE: The thing I love about Goldschmidt is his timing. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth August 11 and Arizona trailing Houston by two runs, Goldschmidt blasted a game-tying homer into the stands. The D-backs later won the game and went on to win their next four. Then less than a week ago, Goldschmidt drove in two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Giants with two outs to seal the division title for Arizona. He has eight homers since being called up to the big leagues and three of them came off of Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee. I fully expect Goldschmidt to play well this postseason when it counts the most.
JM: Continuing with the first base theme, do you think Brandon Allen got a fair shake in Arizona? He’s one of my favorite players, so I’m a bit biased, but he gave the Dbacks an .834 OPS before he was traded.
TE:I really think the D-backs trading Allen wasn’t as much about him as it was about their needs and their depth in the minors. Obviously the club was looking for a little more production than a .172 average from its first baseman but I believe the front office stilled liked Allen. Arizona just knew it had Goldschmidt waiting in the minors and it needed another bullpen arm. So the D-backs got Brad Ziegler and brought up Goldschmidt a few hours later.
JM: In the bullpen, the Diamondbacks solidified a nightmare situation from 2010 by adding David Hernandez and J.J. Putz. Beyond those two, there aren’t many well known names, but they’ve performed quite well as a unit, ranking 15th in ERA and 12th in FIP despite the rough environment at Chase Field. What third or fourth arms out of the pen should the Brewers fear most?
TE:Ziegler and Bryan Shaw have really become the main bridge guys in the D-backs bullpen as of late. Since arriving from Oakland, Ziegler has a WHIP hovering just above one at 1.02. He’ll have the job of shutting down Ryan Braun, Cory Hart and the rest of the Milwaukee rightees in special scenarios. Shaw is way under the radar, but since August 31, he’s given up just one run and has only walked one batter. In September, none of Shaw’s inherited runners scored. Joe Paterson is Arizona’s lefty specialist in the bullpen. You’ll see a Paterson vs. Prince Fielder matchup a couple times during the series at least. Fielder was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts against Paterson during the regular season.