The National League Central division standings have significantly tightened over the last month, and this weekend presents a chance for the drama to grow. The 66-56 Cardinals will host the 68-55 Brewers for a three-game series that will start on Friday evening.
The Cubs won their 70th game of the season on Thursday, becoming the first NL squad to reach that mark. Nonetheless, Chicago leads the NL Central division by just 3 1⁄2 games over Milwaukee and five over St. Louis. In the Wild Card standings, the Phillies and Brewers cling to the two spots, while the Cardinals, Rockies, and Dodgers all sit within just 2 1⁄2 games behind.
In the series opener on Friday, Jack Flaherty will take on Freddy Peralta at 7:15 PM Central time. Flaherty carved up the Royals in his last start, limiting Kansas City to two runs over seven innings with nine strikeouts. Over his last seven starts, Flaherty has a 3.28 ERA and a 47:17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In two starts against the Brewers this year, Flaherty has worked 12 innings with two runs allowed and 22 punchouts, including four of Travis Shaw and three of Lorenzo Cain.
The 22-year-old Peralta made his Major League debut in early May and has made 11 starts for Milwaukee. Peralta has limited batters to a .173 batting average across 56 1⁄3 innings. Walks have plagued him, however, as he has 33 - a 5.27 BB/9 rate. This will be the ninth road start of Peralta’s young career and his first appearance against the Cardinals. Left-handed hitters have had significantly better production against Peralta, with four homers and a collective .252 average.
Saturday’s contest is a 6:15 PM start and is set to showcase Miles Mikolas and Wade Miley. Mikolas has made three starts against the Brewers in 2018 and ranks fourth in the NL with a 2.85 ERA in 24 starts this season. Mikolas will get a chance to further better his statistics at home in his weekend assignment; in 78 2⁄3 frames (12 starts), Mikolas has a WHIP of 1.00 with only 20 earned runs allowed.
The left-handed Miley is in his first season with the Brewers after four seasons with the Diamondbacks, one with the Red Sox, and time with the Mariners and Orioles. In eight games and starts for Milwaukee, Miley has a 2.23 ERA with four quality starts. Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina have each homered off Miley, and Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko each have a pair of doubles.
The series finale on Sunday will feature John Gant and Chase Anderson at 1:15 PM. Gant has allowed a total of two earned runs over his last two starts and enters Sunday with a 3.75 FIP over his 18 games - 11 of those as starts. In three starts in August, Gant has not allowed a home run and has issued only two walks.
Anderson has surrendered four earned runs in each of his last two starts and comes in to the weekend with a 3.97 ERA in 129 1⁄3 innings. The 30-year-old Anderson is pretty familiar with this St. Louis bunch, a team that has given him fits. Carpenter has drawn eight walks facing Anderson, while Marcell Ozuna is batting .412 (7-for-17) with a double and a long ball.