The 91-59 Milwaukee Brewers ran away with the NL Central division and will be a very tough team to beat in the postseason.
Most of their success can be attributed to their excellent pitching.
Make no mistake: the Brewers’ offense is the tenth-best in runs scored per game with 4.6, so it’s hardly a bad unit.
However, their pitching can really carry them to the promised land: the World Series.
The Brewers have the third-best ERA in MLB with 3.40, and have allowed the second-fewest runs per game at 3.7.
The team is third in collective WHIP (1.16) and second in strikeouts per nine innings, with 10.24.
Milwaukee is known for its “Big Three” starting pitchers, all worthy of Cy Young votes: Corbin Burnes (2.34 ERA in 158 innings, 35.5 strikeout rate), Brandon Woodruff (2.55 ERA in 169.1 frames, 29.6 strikeout rate) and Freddy Peralta (2.65 ERA in 139 episodes, 34.1 strikeout rate).
The Hidden Gem In The Brewers’ Staff
However, their pitching has a secret weapon, one that has been displaying his talent over the last few weeks: Aaron Ashby.
Ashby was one of the Brewers’ top prospects and made his MLB debut this season.
That game, against the Chicago Cubs on June 30, was a disaster for him.
In only two-thirds of an inning, the left-hander allowed seven runs (four earned), four hits, and three walks, and didn’t strike out anyone.
He went back to the minor leagues and came back in August, locked and loaded.
His ERA after that nightmarish outing has been 1.42 in 25.1 innings, an elite figure that ranks him among the best pitchers in the National League.
If we take away that one outing in June, he has held hitters to a .167/.202/.256 line and has a 4/28 BB/K ratio.
Aaron Ashby in 8 games since his major league debut: 24.1 IP, 4 ER,
— Sophia Minnaert (@SophiaMinnaert) September 18, 2021
For the season, he has a fantastic 2.77 ERA in 26.0 innings, striking out 9.69 hitters per nine frames.
A Truly Versatile Budding Star
He is the Swiss-Army knife of the Brewers’ pitching, as he has started four games and acted as a reliever in five.
He can act like a regular starter, but also as a traditional, one-inning reliever if the manager needs him.
This season, however, he has been at his best in a multi-inning relief role, pitching two, three, or even four innings if the starter can’t go long enough.
Consider Ashby’s last four appearances: one in which he threw 4.1 innings and allowed two runs, followed by a two-inning game and a couple of three-inning outings.
In his last three, the two-inning game and the two three-inning outings, he did not allow any runs.
Over those three contests, he has covered eight innings with only one walk and 11 punchouts.
Ashby has proven to be the real deal for the Brewers, who stuck with him after that horrific outing.
That’s not a problem, though, because it will allow Milwaukee to keep him in the role in which he has thrived in 2021.
The Brewers’ staff will be a problem in the postseason, in large part thanks to Ashby.
Aaron Ashby, 3 more Ks. 😷 pic.twitter.com/4HkGa5gXqr
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2021