The Brewers just absolutely toyed with the Rockies in a . It was evident in all but one inning out of 28 which team was superior and it wasn't particularly close. Part of the reason is the Brewers bullpen. That's been one of their biggest strengths all season and as the Brewers get set to host Game 1 of the NLCS, it has never been in better shape.
That's pretty scary. The bullpen is set to be scary-good.
During the regular season, the Brewers ranked fifth in baseball in bullpen ERA and trailed only the Cubs in the National League. It was already good. As noted, it's better now. Here's why:
In-season acquisition Joakim Soria finished the regular season with eight consecutive scoreless outings, striking out a batter per inning. In the NLDS, he went 2 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Corbin Burnes didn't come up until July 10, but he pitched to a 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP in the regular season. He worked four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in the NLDS.
Those are the fourth- and fifth-most important relievers in the Milwaukee bullpen, too.
Josh Hader was actually shaky down the stretch, but I'll submit the possibility that he was overworked through much of the season. Between Game 163 and the NLDS, he's gone 4 1/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. He might be back. About the possibility he was overworked, he's going to be well-rested come the NLCS. We'll get to that.
Jeremy Jeffress (1.29 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 89 K, 76.2 IP) is coming off an amazing season. He stumbled in Game 1 of the NLDS, but bounced back with two scoreless innings (three strikeouts) in Game 2. He didn't have his best stuff in Game 3, but it was three hitters. He's fine.
Corey Knebel battled injuries and inconsistency for most of the season. He returned from another DL stint in September. Since then, including the postseason, Knebel has worked 19 1/3 innings. He hasn't allowed a run, he's only walked four and he's struck out 37(!). That's just obscene. He was inserted into a big spot in Game 3 and struck Charlie Blackmon out.
That's some serious high-end bullpen talent with almost all of them capable of going at least two innings, if not more. We've seen teams in the recent past ride back-end bullpen talent to deep postseason runs, but have we seen a team with an arsenal this deep with the ability to go more than an inning while remaining dominant?
Something else to consider: By the time the NLCS starts, the Brewers will have had four days off. Then, after Games 1 and 2, they'll get another. Brewers manager Craig Counsell can be incredibly aggressive in deploying his arsenal power arms in order to try and grab a 2-0 lead in the NLCS.
The Brewers bullpen has never been better and it's going to be fully rested for the start of the NLCS. That's a scary proposition for any opponent.