Pitching wins championships.
For the Brewers, pitching single-handedly (a left hand) got them into the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
Sadly, pitching almost kept them out of it. In a terrible September that few fans will forget, the Crew watched as All-Star Game starter Ben Sheets left the mound early two starts in a row, Jeff Suppan went 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA, and Solomon Torres lost his charge and could have just thrown the balls over the outfield fence to save batters the trouble.
And then there was CC. In my opinion, auto manufacturers should stop measuring cars by horsepower and just start measuring them by Sabathias (CC actually is already used as cubic centimeters and would just cause too much confusion). The Sabathia-to-horsepower ratio would be 1:12.5. Because while an average horse can easily carry two people, Sabathia carried 25 men on the active roster to the playoffs.
But who else is there? Let's dive into the Brewers' starting rotation.
Yovani Gallardo (Games One and Four)
Gallardo may be the best raw talent in the major leagues. During his minor-league days, beginning in 2007, he struck out a whopping 32 percent of all batters he faced. As a fielder, that means that one out in every inning is already taken care of. As the manager of the opposing team, you have to change your whole gameplan to know that you will likely be working with one less out than you hoped for, taking a lot of the bunt, steals, and sac-fly plays off the table.
Gallardo's two best pitches are his fastball and his curveball, which, when clicking, are nearly indistinguishable from a batter's perspective. His movement is virtually the same for both pitches, the only difference being a very slight arc at the beginning of the curve.
The fastball usually runs in the low-90s, although he has hung some in the mid-80s when he's looking to throw off someone's timing. His changeup is also an option, but it is nothing special.
His fastball's combination with his curveball is what makes batters whiff. While some pitchers choose the big, arching curveball that initially looks like a ball until it cripples a batter when it catches a corner of the plate, Gallardo elects for a curve that drops at the last minute.
You'll notice that a lot of Gallardo's strikeouts happen not because of bad timing, but because batters either swing too high (looking for the fastball) or too low (looking for the curve). He also has a slider, which can change things up if his english isn't working on the curve.
Because Gallardo relies more on location than timing, he can also get shelled. If someone picks the right pitch, and is able to catch it, it is very possible that someone sitting around the 410' marker will go home with a souvenir.
However, unlike his curveball, Gallardo doesn't let the bottom fall out on his pitching. He is able to maintain his composure and rebound. He also has the ability to throw at a pretty consistent level before knowing he should be pulled, as opposed to fading slowly over two or three innings and giving up a couple late hits.
Remember, Gallardo also is coming off a torn ACL, which caused him to miss almost all of the regular season. He started last week against the Pirates and seemed to be in tip-top shape, except for one forth-inning homer.
Because of his torn ACL, Crew management also doesn't want him swinging the bat for fear that he might blow out his knee running the bases. So long as he is able to cancel out his own out on offense for one inning on defense, he will definitely be worth the start.
Look for "Kid Dynamite" to bring the noise in Game One. He just better watch out for Ryan Howard's enormous bat.
CC Sabathia (Games Two and Five)
Anyone who doesn't know about CC Sabathia at this point hasn't been watching baseball for the last two years. The 2007 Cy Young winner struggled earlier this season with the Indians, as the Tribe offense didn't give him the runs he needed to gain decisions.
Then he came to the Brewers and crushed it, going 11-2 over 17 starts, with seven complete games and a 2.7 ERA.
Just like a jab for a good boxer in a title fight, Sabathia's whole game is dictated by his fastball. Topping out in the mid-90s, Sabathia is able to throw some serious heat to the middle/outside of the strike zone, resulting in either foul balls or whiffs.
The only problem for batters is, just when you think you have your timing down on his heat, he throws an offspeed curve or slider at you, causing you to either chase the ball into the dirt or nearly trip on your own feet as you try to catch it on the outside.
He's also batting .229 with six RBI and a home run, so CC can swing a little bit, as well.
Dave Bush (Game Three)
Dave Bush is a decent mid-rotation starter, coming in with a 4.18 ERA and a 9-10 record across 29 starts. He has a good fastball, curve, slider, and changeup, but nothing that will ever elevate him to "ace" status.
His fastball settles in around the low 90s (look mostly for 89-91 MPH) and he isn't afraid to throw his changeup, even when he's down in the count. The best part about Bush is his ability to check his own mechanics while pitching. Unlike Gallardo, who is still pretty green, Bush has had more experience and is more in tune with his movements.
Jeff Suppan (Game Three)
Can Suppan do it again? The Brewers' signed the former NLCS MVP in 2007, after he came alive in the postseason to lead the Cardinals into the World Series. For Brewer fans, hopefully he thrives under pressure.
Last year, he finished 12-12 with 34 starts and this year he finished 10-10 across 32. Like Bush, Suppan is an experienced pitcher (much more experienced), who has good control over several pitches, but nothing that can dominate.
At the age of 33, he mostly relies upon pitch selection and location, as opposed to raw power or spin.
Suppan's postseason experience will be needed for a young pitching squad that is looking for some Milwaukee Magic to carry them through the playoffs.
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