After a bit of time to digest and assess what really went wrong for the Brewers in the NLDS, it’s time for the final 2021 season ‘Studs And Duds’ writeup.
Some Brewers players rose to the occasion in the MLB Playoffs while others succumbed to the pressure and struggled mightily. Let’s dive in.
Brewers NLDS Stud: Corbin Burnes
Similar to what we’ve become accustomed to, Corbin Burnes had a masterful performance in his only postseason appearance this year. The hopeful Cy Young award winner was given the ball in Game 1 and did not disappoint. The controversy surrounding Burnes came three days after his two-hit performance when many thought he would start in a win or go home game, but he didn’t due to manager Craig Counsell stating that Burnes’ body was not ready to start Game 4.
In Game 1 it was a bit of a nerve wracking start for the Brewers ace as he struggled to find the strike zone, but a key double play set up by Rowdy Tellez helped get him out of the inning unscathed. Besides that first inning it was a relatively dominant outing for Corbin Burnes for a final line of 6.0 IP 2 H 3 BB 6 K 0 ER. Even on a day where he didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff, he managed to put up zeros.
While it’s a shame we have to wonder what he could’ve done in Game 4, only few people know the conversations that went on behind closed doors and how Burnes’ body really felt. He was one of the leaders all season and the leadership never waivered even amidst his fair share of adversity in the NLDS.
Brewers NLDS Dud: Avisail Garcia
At this point in the year, if you weren’t aware that Avisail Garcia was a streaky hitter, you weren’t paying much attention to Brewers baseball. The highs were very high, including a career high of home runs and runs batted in, but when he slumped…it was quite the skid. In the last month and a half of the season Garcia didn’t look like himself, striking out almost 35% of the time since the beginning of September. When the offense needed him most, he simply couldn’t get the job done.
There’s bad and then there’s 2-15 with eight strikeouts bad. Avisail Garcia was not seeing the ball well at all against the Braves pitching staff. He was reaching for off-speed pitches outside of the zone and laying off early fastballs that the opposing pitcher would walk across the plate to get ahead in the count. And while there weren’t many opportunities, he had zero RBI’s in the series and simply put, you won’t win many series when your cleanup hitter isn’t driving in any runs.
It’ll be interesting to see if Garcia returns to the crowded Brewers outfield as he’s secured himself a mutual option agreement clause in his contract due to a specified amount of at-bats during the 2021 campaign.
Brewers NLDS Stud: Rowdy Tellez
One of the few hitters that was ready for the bright lights of the playoffs was Rowdy Tellez. His two home runs accounted for 67% of the scoring for the Crew in the playoffs and his defense was also a big part of the series. He was a key acquisition during the season and Brewers fans should be excited to see what he can do in a full season’s body of work.
In the series his two home runs were the only hits that he logged as he ended up going 2-10 with four strikeouts, but his two hits were of large enough magnitude to put him in the ‘Studs’ list. His first big fly single handedly won the game for the Crew while his second gave Milwaukee a lead in the do or die game in the 5th inning.
He has a knack for the big hit and when he hits them, chances are they’re no doubters. In a series of colossal letdowns, Rowdy Tellez proved why he’s a fan favorite. Seeing his emotion after the Game 1 go-ahead home run was enough to give you goosebumps.
Brewers NLDS Dud: Hitting With RISP
It was a narrative that was driven home ad nauseum, but the lack of production from the offense with runners in scoring position was inexcusable. The Brewers joined the wrong side of history for the second-longest hit drought with runners in scoring position at 0-20 in the NLDS. In addition they were in the midst of a 22 scoreless inning streak at one point before Omar Narvaez delivered with a single in the 4th inning of Game 4.
Milwaukee was in the middle of the pack during the regular season in average number of runners left in scoring position at 3.39 per game, but the postseason was a different story. They couldn’t deliver hits and even when guys were asked to get bunts down to advance runners, that couldn’t be done correctly. It was a struggle all around and this aspect of the offense was a huge reason the series was dropped.
Honorable Mention Duds: Christian Yelich, Pitching To ATL Pinch Hitters, TBS Broadcasting Team
Unfortunately there were way too many ‘Duds’ to choose from than ‘Studs’ in this series and that’s why Brewers players will be watching the NLCS from the couch. The feeling of disappointment has not passed by yet and it’s tough to say when it will.