The Los Angeles Dodgers need every edge they can possibly get in these playoffs with their ailing starting rotation and flawed (but improved!) bullpen. Pitching is the most important asset a team can have once Octiber arrives, which is why the Milwaukee Brewers posed a legitimate threat to LA in a hypothetical NLDS matchup.
But the Brew Crew got off to the worst possible start in their Wild Card series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. After taking an early 3-0 lead, Milwaukee saw ace Corbin Burnes get shelled for four earned runs on five hits and two walks in four innings. He surrendered three homers.
They weren't dead yet, though. Trailing 4-3, the Brewers loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with one out. No. 9 hitter Tyrone Taylor was up with a chance to turn it over to the top of the order, with Christian Yelich on deck.
Taylor, on a full count, tattooed a 90 MPH sinker from Ryan Thompson, but the hot shot was snagged on a line drive by third baseman Evan Longoria, who made a diving play. Brewers shortstop Willy Adames was caught in no man's land at second base, for some odd reason bolting to third on the crack of the bat.
Longoria doubled him off and the threat was over. The Brewers went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position (1-for-9 to finish the game) and left 11 runners on base (they recorded 12 hits and four walks against seven D-backs pitchers).
Brewers shooting themselves in the foot could gift Dodgers NLDS mismatch
The game still remained in reach, however, when the top of the ninth arrived. Craig Counsell called on Devin Williams to keep the game close, as he trusted the Brewers' offense could threaten in the bottom half of the inning.
But Williams, arguably the best reliever in the sport this past season, allowed two earned runs on one hit and three walks in just 0.2 innings. The D-backs led 6-3 after a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Christian Walker, and would go on to win after Paul Sewald slammed the door shut with a save.
The Brewers already suffered a tough blow before the playoffs began when Brandon Woodruff went down with a shoulder injury, and now their backs are up against the wall. They'll have to face Zac Gallen, who could place in the NL Cy Young race, on Wednesday. He'll face Freddy Peralta. The Brewers burned six relievers on Tuesday, including Williams, who threw 31 pitches, so if Gallen can provide length, Counsell will have a tough time managing this one.
Should the D-backs win as a result of the Brewers' lackluster showing on Tuesday, that'll give the Dodgers a massive advantage. Arizona's bullpen was already taxed in Game 1, and now they have their best starter going in Game 2, pushing his availability further back in a hypothetical NLDS matchup.
Not to mention, the Dodgers finished 8-5 against this revamped D-backs team in 2023, and will have a well-rested pitching staff ready for the occasion. You never want to "wish" for a certain opponent in the postseason, but fans were particularly worried about the Brewers because of their elite pitching, and the Dodgers are one Diamondbacks win away from avoiding that.