After falling at on the road in Game 1, a game pitched brilliantly through five innings by Charlie Morton, the Braves responded with two big wins over Milwaukee. Now, they will have a chance to clinch the series with a victory at home, in yet another game pitched by Morton. With the supreme offense, and the better pitcher, is this one as easy to call as it sounds?
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves
Tuesday, October 12, 2021 – 05:15 PM EDT at SunTrust Park
Struggling to Hit the Ball
The Brewers were once the story of the year. After the worst start you’ve ever seen from an offense that has a former MVP in the order and a plethora of talented hitters, Milwaukee went out and got Willy Adames, then saw its offense blossom with contributions from unlikely sources.
That time seems so long ago. Milwaukee stumbled so mightily down the stretch that its offensive output during the second half was almost exactly average with a 98 wRC+. Their ranking in that category was 25th in the second half of the season, and it failed do much of anything hitting the ball. The Brewers are here right now on the backs of their pitchers.
That isn’t exactly a strength entering Tuesday’s Game 4. Why? Because it’ll be Eric Lauer to take the ball. The left-hander is sporting a 3.89 xERA on the year with a beefy 37.1% hard-hit rate and a high 8.4% walk rate. He is pretty bad at limiting the damage, and against an offense that has been smoking lefties, he could be minced meat.
Though the Brewers do have some talented arms in the bullpen, it may be too late by the time manager Craig Counsell gets to them. Corbin Burnes may be available on three days’ rest, and Josh Hader could go two innings after being used sparingly in this series.
All on Uncle Charlie
Charlie Morton started this series with a bang, pitching five scoreless innings in a Game 1 duel with Corbin Burnes before being handed the loss after a two-run home run in the seventh inning took them over the finish line. Morton would finish with nine strikeouts and just three hits against his name, but that performance ended on a very sour note.
Now, with just three days of rest, Morton and his brilliant curveball is back. That’s bad news for the Brewers, who ranked 23rd in weighted runs per 100 curveballs in September and October of the regular season. The righty also has a 3.34 career ERA in the postseason, presenting one of the toughest challenges for even the strongest of offenses this time of year.
The Braves are a much-improved offense in the second half, and that’s because they’ve shored up their ability to hit left-handed pitching. Jorge Soler has packed a real punch against southpaws with a 126 wRC+ and .287 ISO, and Adam Duvall has provided power in that regard as well. Then, there’s the returning Travis d’Arnaud, who has been one of this team’s very best options against left-handers.
All that equates to a pretty good start for the Braves, who will then be backed by one of the hottest bullpens in baseball over the second half. Even if the Brewers are able to break out their best arms for five or so innings, it will likely come after the damage has already been done against Lauer.
That leads me to believe the Braves should win this game, and given the lifelessness that we’ve seen out of Milwaukee’s bats it could even take just a few runs to get across the finish line. Morton should shove, and Lauer should struggle with peripherals that indicate a strong regression is on the horizon. Expect a few timely home runs from Atlanta en route to a big win in front of the home crowd in Atlanta.
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