The Milwaukee Brewers will meet the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wild-card round of the 2023 playoffs, beginning Tuesday at American Family Field. It's a rematch of the 2011 National League Divisional Series that the Brewers won in thrilling fashion, 3-2.
Here's what you need to know about the Snakes (84-78).
Arizona beat Milwaukee four out of six meetings in 2023
Arizona won two out of three against the Brewers in both matchups this season. A look at those games:
April 11: Milwaukee 7, Arizona 1. The Brewers scored all their runs in the seventh or later. Willy Adames homered off Merrill Kelly leading off the seventh to spark a five-run rally and break up a scoreless game. Corbin Burnes was outstanding, delivering a start that manager Craig Counsell considered the best of his career. He permitted three hits in eight innings with no runs and eight strikeouts.
April 12: Arizona 7, Milwaukee 3. Making his only start of the year, Janson Junk allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Milwaukee had 11 hits (three by William Contreras) but went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
June 19: Arizona 9, Milwaukee 1. Kelly (one run, seven innings, three hits) easily out-dueled Burnes, who allowed seven runs -- including six in the first -- on eight hits and two walks in five innings. Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll both homered.
June 20: Milwaukee 7, Arizona 5. The Brewers rallied for four runs in the seventh, with Contreras' two-run double flipping the lead. The Brewers bullpen pitched 3 ⅔ scoreless.
June 21: Arizona 5, Milwaukee 1. Gallen allowed just one run in seven innings, and though Julio Teheran threw five shutout innings, Elvis Peguero and Trevor Megill both allowed multiple runs in relief. Raimel Tapia homered off Gallen, but the Brewers defense had a rare off game.
The Diamondbacks enter the series having lost four straight games and six of nine. They had something to play for in all three games against the Houston Astros at home over the weekend but dropped all three (and Gallen and Kelly, the team's two best pitchers, pitched in the series).
Before that, they dropped one to the lowly Chicago White Sox after winning the first two games of that series.
Pitching and defense: The Brewers and Diamondbacks have similar strengths
Arizona and Milwaukee share strengths, including quality defense.
Statcast regards the Brewers as the best team in baseball in terms of Outs Above Average, with Arizona second. and both are top-tier teams (the Brewers second, Diamondbacks fourth) in the Fielding Bible's "Defensive Runs Saved" metric.
And then there is the pitching.
Milwaukee's advantage is that it has gotten full rest for its ace triumvirate (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta) whereas the Diamondbacks needed Gallen and Kelly to pitch over the weekend. However, Arizona will still have their services in the first round.
Assuming regular rest, Gallen would work Game 2 on Wednesday and Kelly would be available for Game 3 if necessary. The Diamondbacks announced Sunday night that rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt will start Game 1.
Pfaadt's overall numbers (3-9 record, 5.72 ERA) won't impress you, but he has a 4.14 ERA since August and a couple blowup outings that hide how good he can be. He hasn't allowed any runs in three of his past eight starts.
The main 1-2 punch may not be around for Game 1, but Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) is a Cy Young candidate, and Kelly has comparable numbers (12-8, 3.29 ERA, 1.19 WHIP).
Kelly's also been stronger late in the season. He did have one blowup start in September but in the other five, he allowed six runs in 31 ⅓ innings (1.72 ERA). Gallen, meanwhile, has a 4.93 ERA over his last seven starts but it's been up and down, with two shutout starts in that stretch and two runs allowed over his past 12 ⅓ innings.
The duo has also dominated Milwaukee this year, combining to allow five earned runs on 10 hits in 28 innings (1.61 ERA).
But the Brewers team that met Arizona this year has changed
Arizona had the upper hand head to head, but the two teams last met in June, when the Brewers lineup featured a number of players (Rowdy Tellez, Jesse Winker, Owen Miller, Brian Anderson, Raimel Tapia, Luis Urías and Joey Wiemer) who either won't play a large role in the playoffs or are no longer with the team.
Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta did not face Arizona this year. Current Brewers reliever Andrew Chafin actually registered a hold and a save in two wins for the Diamondbacks back in April.
A rookie of the year candidate has been a force, but the offense isn't likely to blow you away
Up to 25 homers and 54 stolen bases heading into Sunday, outfielder Corbin Carroll is the frontrunner to be named the NL's rookie of the year. He's posted an .873 OPS that ranks him as the team's best qualified hitter.
And while there are some other talented names, this isn't a powerhouse lineup and it's been well behind Milwaukee in the final two months of the season.
Second baseman Ketel Marte (.849 OPS) has been one of the team's steady veterans, and Christian Walker (.833 OPS) hit 33 homers this year to lead the team. Midseason acquisition Tommy Pham only has a .717 OPS since joining Arizona from the Mets (where he roamed the outfield with Mark Canha), but he does have six homers and 32 RBIs.
Lourdes Gurriel and Geraldo Perdomo joined Carroll and Gallen as all-stars this season, but neither has numbers that will jump off the page. Catcher Gabriel Moreno has been very good since August, but this has been an offense that ranks 25th in weighted runs created (wRC+) since August and is 22nd in runs scored and weighted on-base average (wOBA).
The Brewers, by comparison, are 10th in runs since August 1 and 14th in wRC+ and wOBA.
The Diamondbacks bullpen has been just OK, but some new faces make it stronger
Arizona's bullpen numbers have been average to below average compared to others in the league. Closer Paul Sewald was acquired at the trade deadline from Seattle and he's been decent, with 13 saves and a 3.57 ERA. He's been particularly sharp in September.
Kevin Ginkel has a 2.48 ERA and started the year 9-0 before incurring his first loss late in September; he's struck out 70 in 65 ⅓ innings. Kyle Nelson, a lefty, has a 3.88 ERA with 66 stirkeouts in 55 ⅔ innings.
The Diamondbacks also offer additional lefties in Joe Mantiply and Andrew Saalfrank, who has not allowed a run in 10 ⅓ innings since he made his major-league debut on Sept. 5. Ryan Thompson has a 0.69 ERA in 13 games since he made his Diamondbacks debut Aug. 27. He was signed as a free agent after the Rays released him.
Could Torey Lovullo win Manager of the Year (over Craig Counsell)?
Craig Counsell has finished second three times in voting for NL manager of the year, and it's unclear if he'll remain Brewers skipper after 2023, so this may be his best shot.
But Lovullo, who won the award in 2017, is in that mix again. Arizona is back in the playoffs for the first time since his first year on the job, 2017, and the Diamondbacks lost 110 games in 2021, then went 74-88 last year before turning the corner. The Diamondbacks haven't won a playoff game since their last postseason series against Milwaukee in 2011.
Jace Peterson and other connections to the Brewers
Jace Peterson, who was with the Brewers the last three seasons before 2023, was traded to Arizona by the Oakland A's near the trade deadline. He's struggled since, going 17 for 90 with a .277 on-base percentage, but stands to make some appearances.
He's not the only Brewers connection to Arizona, but he'll probably be the only prominent one you'll see in the series.
Peter Strzelecki, who was sent to Arizona earlier this year in the deal for Chafin, was optioned to Class AAA in August and has only appeared in one game for Arizona. Zach Davies, who pitched for Milwaukee from 2015-19, made 18 starts this year with a 7.00 ERA, but has since been released.
Potential Arizona Diamondbacks lineup
Corbin Carroll, RF
Ketel Marte, 2B
Tommy Pham, DH
Christian Walker, 1B
Alek Thomas, CF
Lourdes Gurriel, LF
Gabriel Moreno, C
Jace Peterson, 3B
Geraldo Perdomo, SS
Starting pitchers: Brandon Pfaadt, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly
Relievers: Paul Sewald, Kevin Ginkel, Andrew Saalfrank, Ryan Thompson, Miguel Castro, Kyle Nelson
They've got to bring Nyjer Morgan back for the series, right?
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs proved to be unforgettable, when Nyjer Morgan's single in the 10th inning of Game 5 in the 2011 NLDS sent Milwaukee onward. It marked the first time the Brewers had won a playoff series since 1982.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: What to know about the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee's playoff foe