Postseason Q&A: Who is the Brewers' ace?

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
12:46
PM ET
Today's postseason question: Who should be the Brewers' No. 1 starter?

Like the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers have the luxury of a deep rotation. While none of their top four starters quite match up statistically with the Phillies' three aces, they run four deep with Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo. You can make a case that any of them deserve to be that guy drawing two starts -- if needed -- in the Division Series.

The Brewers haven't officially announced anything, but it appears they've set it up for Greinke to go in Game 1. He'll start Saturday, but isn't scheduled to start again during the regular season. Marcum starts Monday, followed by Wolf and Gallardo. Fifth starter Chris Narveson likely moves to the bullpen for the postseason.

Right now, the Brewers lead the Diamondbacks for the No. 2 position in the NL by one win. If that holds and the Braves win the wild card, the Brewers open against Atlanta. If Arizona passes Milwaukee and the Braves win the wild card, the Brewers open with the Phillies. If the Cardinals win the wild card, the Brewers will play the Diamondbacks.

Zack Greinke: 15-7, 3.75 ERA, leads NL with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, has 2.29 ERA and .222 average allowed in the second half. Greinke has allowed more than two runs just once in his past 12 starts and, as the K rate indicates, has the best stuff on the Milwaukee staff. Two issues: He has never pitched in the postseason and there are questions about how he'll handle the pressure. Also, he has pitched more than seven innings just twice all season, so he is unlikely to go deep into games. He doesn't walk many guys but runs up high pitch counts that can lead to early exits.

Shaun Marcum: 13-7, 3.31 ERA, .225 average allowed on the season, crushes right-handed batters (.192/.238/.321). Marcum has been consistent all season, although he has had two starts in September in which he allowed six runs (to the Rockies) and five runs (to the Phillies), both in Milwaukee. Marcum relies heavily on his cut fastball and it is excellent, but like Greinke, he has never appeared in the postseason.

Randy Wolf: 13-10, 3.61 ERA. When he's on, Wolf can be tough -- he has had 11 starts allowing zero runs or one run, as many as Marcum and four more than Greinke. As a left-hander, he could be the key guy if the Brewers face the Braves, who have the lowest average in the National League against left-handed pitching (.229). Wolf started twice for the Dodgers in the 2009 playoffs, allowing five runs over nine innings.

Yovani Gallardo: 17-10, 3.60 ERA. Gallardo's last two starts, against the Phillies and Reds, were dominant: 13 innings, five hits, three walks, 25 strikeouts. If you want the hot arm, he may be the guy. But he has allowed nine home runs in four starts in September. His curve and slider can make hitters like silly, but he can hang those pitches at times. It's also worth noting that he has a 1.75 ERA in 10 starts this season on five days' rest, but a 3.98 ERA on four days' rest, so he may be the starter to benefit the most with more rest between starts.

No matter how the Brewers line up their rotation, it's one of the things to like about them this postseason: You'd be confident with any of the four guys starting the first game of a series ... or pitching the final game of a series.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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