MILWAUKEE – When it comes to star power, even the Arizona Diamondbacks acknowledge they’re no match for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee has a pair of MVP candidates in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and pulled the surprise of the offseason when it traded for standout starter Zack Greinke.
The Diamondbacks’ biggest star is Justin Upton – and even he feels as if he and his teammates get lost in the shuffle.
“We’re just a bunch of guys nobody ever heard about,” Upton said. “In Arizona, still, nobody’s heard about us.”
The Diamondbacks might not have the Brewers’ marquee names. But the numbers, and the results, show teams that are surprisingly similar going into today’s Game 1 of the N.L. division series.
Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee calls the Diamondbacks “the N.L. West version of ourselves, kind of.”
And if fans don’t know the Diamondbacks’ players, Braun says they will soon enough.
“It’s not like they don’t have talent,” Braun said. “Justin Upton was an MVP candidate all year. You look at the top of their rotation, Ian Kennedy is going to be in the Cy Young discussion. So it’s no doubt they have plenty of talent and I think they’re playing great baseball.”
Arizona and Milwaukee both can trace much of their success to improved starting pitching. Both have deep bullpens that don’t blow leads. And while the Brewers are known for their two big home run hitters, the Diamondbacks can hit for power, too.
“I feel like we’re very similar teams,” said Kennedy, who will start Game 1. “And we probably got hot around the same times, just because I felt like when we came here it was right before the All-Star break and we were still in second. I don’t know what place they were in. But I noticed that our record pretty much stayed the same all the way through, as they got hot. And that’s when we took over first place and continued to stay hot. So I think we’re very similar teams. The numbers will show that.”
Both are strong at the top of the rotation. Yovani Gallardo starts Game 1 for Milwaukee, coming off a three-game stretch when he went 2-0 and had 36 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.
Arizona counters with 21-game winner Kennedy.