With the regular season coming to a close on Sunday, it is now time for the playoffs which means a pair of win-or-go-home Wild Card games starting on Tuesday. On Tuesday, the National League gets its turn as the Milwaukee Brewers (89-73) travel to Nationals Park to take on the Washington Nationals (93-69).
Both of these teams caught fire in the month of September. At one point, the Brewers had won 18 of 20 games before losing three in a row to end the season against the Colorado Rockies. The Nationals finished the season by winning eight in a row and 10 of their last 11.
The pitching matchup for this one features Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.62 ERA) squaring off with the Nationals’ Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 8:08 pm ET.
The moneyline for this matchup features the Milwaukee Brewers at +160 and the Washington Nationals at -180. The over/under in terms of runs scored is set at 7.5.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, it is Washington who holds the advantage. On the season, the Nationals ranked sixth in the majors, averaging 5.39 runs per game (5.59 at home). The Brewers were 15th, averaging 4.75 runs (4.70 on the road).
On the pitching side, it is once again the Nationals who hold the advantage. They ranked 13th overall in terms of earned run average with a staff ERA of 4.27 (4.44 at home), while the Brewers come in 16th with a staff ERA of 4.40 (4.64 on the road).
When you put it all together, it is Washington that comes out ahead in terms of run differential. The Nationals ranked sixth with a run differential of +149, while the Brewers ranked 15th with a run differential of just +3.
Brewers Looking To Continue Showing Resiliency
If you look up resiliency in the dictionary, it very well may show a picture of the 2019 Brewers. The best player on the team goes down in Christian Yelich for the season, and they rally to win a Wild Card spot. The pitching staff (starters and bullpen) took a step back this season, but they still won 89 games. Now, they are hoping they can get past the fact that Lorenzo Cain is questionable for this one, and Ryan Braun is hobbled. While it may be too big of odds to overcome, the Brewers are the one team that just might be able to do it.
On the pitching side, they are going to look to Brandon Woodruff in this one, but the question is for how long. On the season, Woodruff is 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and opponents are hitting .240 against him. In 121 2/3 innings, he has allowed 109 hits, 49 earned runs, 12 home runs and has struck out 143 versus 30 walks.
Woodruff has also spent a lot of time on the injured list this season and isn’t likely to go deep in this one. In fact, the belief is that it will be an “all hands on deck” type game where everyone may be turned to, particularly pitchers like Drew Pomeranz and Josh Hader.
Nationals Looking To Ride Big Arms
While the Brewers are looking at an all hands on deck approach, the Nationals would love to ride their horse deep into this game. Max Scherzer will take the ball, and the perennial Cy Young candidate will be looking to be sharp and push his team into a series with the Dodgers.
On the season, Scherzer is 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and opponents are hitting .222 against him. In 172 1/3 innings, he has allowed 144 hits, 56 earned runs, 18 home runs and has struck out 243 versus just 33 walks.
If that isn’t enough for you, they may turn in a pinch to fellow aces Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Throw on top of that Sean Doolittle and the rest of the bullpen, and the Nationals will feature a vaunted pitching staff in this one.
On the offensive side, Trea Turner comes into this one having hit well over the course of the last month. In the last 30 days, he is hitting .308/.341/.547 with six home runs, 13 runs batted in and 24 runs scored. He has also stolen six bases in that time.
The most dynamic offensive player, though, has been third baseman Anthony Rendon. On the season, he is hitting .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs, 126 runs batted in and 117 runs scored. With an offense anchored by these two and the pitching staff doing their thing, the Nationals could be very tough to beat.
Nationals Move On
It is amazing what a week can do to change one’s opinion. If you had talked to me a week ago, I would probably have put my money on the Brewers, particularly at +160; however, between Yelich out, Cain and Braun iffy, having lost three in a row to finish the season and the Nationals streaking, it might be too much for the Brewers to overcome.
If anyone is able to do overcome the odds, it might be Milwaukee, but with a trio of aces in Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin available for the Nationals, it might be a long night for hitters for Milwaukee. Throw on top of that the fact that the Nationals have been 50-31 at home versus Milwaukee’s 40-41 mark on the road, and I like Washington. For my money, I am taking the Nationals despite the -180 moneyline.