The No. 6 Arizona Diamondbacks look to keep their Cinderella run going as they meet the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of this best-of-three NL Wild Card series. First pitch from American Family Field in Milwaukee is set for 7:08 p.m. ET. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt (3-9, 5.72 ERA) will get the ball for Arizona in his postseason debut, while the Brewers turn to Corbin Burnes (10-8, 3.39) after Brandon Woodruff was ruled out for the series with a shoulder injury.
The Brewers enter as -180 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Arizona at +150. The run total is set at 8.
Diamondbacks vs. Brewers Wild Card Game 1 picks: Tuesday, October 3
Out: RP Scott McGough (shoulder)
Probable: DH Jesse Winker (quad)
Out: SP Brandon Woodruff (shoulder)
Brandon Pfaadt vs. Corbin Burnes
Pfaadt certainly isn’t the ideal choice to get the ball in Game 1, but with both Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly pitching in the final series of the season last weekend, Arizona had no choice but to roll with its top pitching prospect. The rookie has had a rough introduction to life in the Majors this year, although he’s been better since being reinserted into the rotation in late July, posting a 4.22 ERA over 13 appearances (12 starts) in the second half. He’s flashed moments of living up to his prospect pedigree, especially lately, spinning 5.1 shutout innings against the Cubs in a key game on Sept. 15 and blanking the White Sox over 5.2 frames in his final start of the year. His slider (.180 BA against, 33.7% whiff rate) is a real weapon; the problem is finding something to compliment it, which he’s yet to be able to do.
The narrative around Burnes’ season had an air of disappointment to it, and yet ... he winds up with 200 strikeouts (a healthy 26% strikeout rate) with a 3.39 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, solid numbers across the board. Granted, those are all a step back from his sensational 2021-2022 performance, but still, the big righty remains a very reliable option — and he’ll need to be, given the loss of Woodruff. Burnes’ second half was marked by a couple of blowups in August, in which he allowed five runs in 5.2 innings to the White Sox and six runs in six innings to the Twins. Other than that, he was sensational from July through September, with with 10 quality starts in 14 outings before the team throttled him back over the last couple of weeks. He had mixed results against the D-backs this year, firing eight shutout innings in April but getting whacked for seven runs in arguably his worst start of the year in June.
Pfaadt is the real wild card here, and he could very well torch this number before we even reach the middle innings, but I’m still backing the under in this spot. Burnes has been rock-solid for months now, while the D-backs and Brewers ranked second and third, respectively, in bullpen ERA in September. These are two very good pitching staffs, and while Pfaadt is the weak link, I expect Arizona to have a short leash with him given Gallen and Kelly waiting in the wings in Games 2 and (if necessary) 3. Plus, there’s just not a ton of firepower in these lineups, especially for Arizona, who ranked in the bottom five in the league in OPS against righties last month.
Pick: Under 8
I’d love to pull the trigger on the upset here, but I like Milwaukee at home. The gap between Burnes and Pfaadt is just too great, nevermind the trump card that is Devin Williams looming in the later innings for the Brewers. Christian Yelich, William Contreras and Co. give Milwaukee more firepower than you might think, and I think they’ll give their ace just enough run support to snag Game 1.
Pick: Brewers -180