2022 American Association Playoff Preview: Round 1, Dogs vs. Milkmen
American Association Daily provides insights, features, and recaps of the action from around the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier previews the first-round playoff series between the Chicago Dogs and the Milwaukee Milkmen.
Despite struggling following the All-Star break, the Chicago Dogs finished with the top record in the East Division and will take on the Milwaukee Milkmen in the first round. Chicago (54-46) finished one game ahead of Milwaukee in the standings, going 4-6 in their last 10.
The Dogs had a horrendous final six weeks, going 11-21, but the pitching remains solid. It was the offense that struggle for this team, but Chicago has two of the best starters in the league, and a solid bullpen that could very well carry this club through the playoffs.
Milwaukee (53-47) went 5-5 in their last 10, just missing out on winning the division. This is a team built on a solid bullpen, as the starting rotation has struggled. However, there is plenty of offense and Milwaukee has battled through some incredible losses to their team yet still wound up as one of the best teams in the league.
Tale of the Tape:
(League ranking shown in parentheses)
Team Batting Average: .280 (2)
HR: 109 (6)
Runs Scored: 587 (3)
Team ERA: 5.39 (9)
Team Fielding Percentage: .973 (12)
Team Batting Average: .265 (8)
HR: 109 (6)
Runs Scored: 554 (7)
Team ERA: 4.49 (2)
Team Fielding Percentage: .982 (3)
Wednesday, September 7 – in Milwaukee, 6:35
Friday, September 9 – in Rosemont, 6:30
Saturday, September 10 (if necessary) – in Rosemont, 6:30
Keys for Milwaukee Milkmen
Milwaukee is only going as far as their starting pitching carries them. After A.J. Schugel, it may be up for grabs who gets the start. Myles Smith was one of the top pitchers in the American Association last season, but has really battled over the last five weeks. Ryan Zimmerman and Jake Matthys have both been inconsistent. All they need is five innings, maybe even four, from there starters and the bullpen can handle it from there.
Bryan Torres simply has to catch fire again. When he is red-hot, this club hits and they are tough to stop. He needs to set the table for Keon Barnum and Miguel Gomez.
The club needs Correlle Prime to get his swing back quickly. Chicago has a very good pitching staff, and it is all hands on deck for this offense. Prime has missed much of the last month, and his ability to hit is going to help carry this club.
Listen to the Voice of Milwaukee Milkmen, Tom Wynn, and his take on the series.
Keys for Chicago Dogs
Jeff Kinley and Jordan Kipper have to dominate for Chicago. The starting pitching has not been very good for the Dogs outside of these two. Kinley has been absolutely fantastic since moving into the starting rotation, and he needs to lead this team in the series.
Someone beyond Grant Kay and Ryan Lidge needs to start hitting for this club. This was one of the best offensive teams in the league until the All-Star break, but it has been a two man show since.
The bullpen must also regain their dominance. This is arguably the best group in terms of power arms in the league. They just have not been as dominant since August. It is time to reestablish themselves.
Listen to the Voice of the Chicago Dogs, Sam Brief, and his take on the series.
Who Wins the Series
This is truly a battle between pitching and hitting. Chicago has the far better defense and the combo of Kinley and Kipper gives the Dogs a huge edge. However, they cannot matchup with Milwaukee beyond the power numbers. The Milkmen get on base and are far more capable of generating a huge inning.
We saw in the playoffs last season that Milwaukee can get shut down by good pitching. Chicago wins in two.
By Robert Pannier