One way the Atlanta Braves can exploit the Brewers in the NLDS
The Braves match up well to exploit the Brewers’ middle relief.
No, it’s not a slam dunk, by any means.
But in a comprehensive analysis of the numbers in how these two teams stack up for a postseason series, a lopsided mismatch such as this will make one pause.
The Braves have based their offense around the home run. Per FanGraphs, they’ve hit the 3rd most dingers of any team in baseball, while their team ISO (isolated power) is tied for 2nd in MLB.
Why is the Braves’ penchant for round-trippers bad news for the Brew Crew? The Milwaukee bullpen has been one of baseball’s most home run-prone relief units.
According to FanGraphs, Brewers’ relievers compiled a HR/9 (home run rate per nine innings) of 1.39 in the regular season, tied for 4th worst in all of baseball (for the reference of Braves’ fans, the Brewers rank directly between the hapless bullpens of Philadelphia and Washington in this category).
Even when adjusting for timing in the “what have you done for me lately” context, Brewers’ relievers are still giving up the home run at a high rate in the second half, with the bullpen again ranking 4th worst in HR/9 at an even higher rate of 1.53.
More specifically in the second half, the biggest culprits for Milwaukee with regards to HR/9 have been Miguel Sanchez (1.53), Hunter Strickland (1.44), Aaron Ashby (1.35), Brad Boxberger (1.33), and Jake Cousins (1.31).
(For comparison’s sake, the only two relievers in Atlanta’s current bullpen with a HR/9 rate of 1.30 or higher in the second half are Richard Rodriguez and, you guessed it, Will Smith).
TomahawkTake’s Jake Mastroianni touched on the importance of the middle-relief innings when outlining the Atlanta Braves’ keys to beating Milwaukee, and a deeper look at the numbers here supports the same.
So, who are some of the Braves hitters to watch for in the middle innings?