There’s not really anything new I can add about the Milwaukee Brewers. They are the only competition in the NL Central. The Cubs, Reds, and Pirates are all competing to not be in last place, all within a game of each other. They are 15.5 games back of the 2nd place Brewers. The Brewers, after beating the Rays in both games, are just 0.5 games back of the Cardinals.
Interestingly, the Brewers and Cardinals have played to a draw so far. They have played in three separate four-game series. They have split all three series. This obviously cannot continue, BUT if the same structure happens, the Cardinals will win the series. The Brewers win game 1, the Cardinals win the next two, the Brewers win game 4. And, well, there is no game four.
Since we last saw the Brewers, they traded Josh Hader. I was under the impression that Hader was specifically amazing against the Cardinals, but looking at the stats, Hader has a 2.45 ERA against the Cards and a 2.54 ERA for his career. They also lost Jake McGee and Dinelson Lamet, both of whom were DFA’d and claimed. Devin Williams is the new closer, Taylor Rogers has an undefined role and has only threw two innings since the trade but theoretically he’s the new Devin Williams, and Matt Bush has gotten a save and also blown a few games. Omar Narvaez is now on the IL and their starting catcher is Victor Caratini, former Cub and former backup to Narvaez.
The Brewers lineup has seven regulars and the other two positions seem to be heavily platooned. Christian Yelich is the full-time leadoff hitter and Tyrone Taylor has taken over from the released Lorenzo Cain at CF with the horrible defender Hunter Renfroe in right field. In the infield, Luis Urias and Willy Adames play everyday. Kolten Wong is platooned with Mike Brosseau and Rowdy Tellez with Keston Hiura. But they made no additional improvements to their offense so it’s essentially the same as we last saw.
Eric Lauer (3.59 ERA/4.58 FIP/4,14 xFIP) vs. Jordan Montgomery (3.53 ERA/3.89 FIP/3.66 xFIP)
Eric Lauer has faced the Cardinals twice and has arguably not been very good either time. In the first start, he walked four and struck out one... and somehow allowed just two earned runs in 5 innings, earning the win. In the second, he allowed five earned runs in 6 innings of work. While Lauer went on a strikeout spree early in the season, he has just a 15.5 K% and 12.4 BB% in the past four games. Let’s hope both of these trends continue.
Meanwhile, one of the benefits of acquiring two lefties at the deadline is that... the Brewers have not been good against lefties. They are 25th in baseball with an 88 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers. So Montgomery has something of a favorable matchup, certainly more favorable than last week when he faced his former team. This game should be won.
My pick: Cardinals
Corbin Burnes (2.45 ERA/3.14 FIP/2.89 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.42 ERA/3.76 FIP/3.95 xFIP)
It’s kind of crazy that Burnes had such insanely good stats last year that this year’s stats represent a notable downgrade. The ERA is virtually the same, but he has nearly a run higher xERA, a run and half higher FIP, and over a half a run higher xFIP. He’s been worse than last year and is hypothetically more hittable. Hypothetically.
Wainwright is looking to bounce back from a bad start against the Yankees and you know what he usually does bounce back after a terrible game. He’s allowed four earned runs or more in a start seven times this year. In only one game did he follow up a 4 ER performance with another. In the other five times, he threw a complete game, two games with 7 IP (one with one ER, one with zero), a 6 IP with 3 ER quality start, and 5.2 IP of 1 run ball. Let’s hope that trend continues. I can’t bet on the Cardinals hitting Burnes though sorry Waino.
My pick: Brewers
Aaron Ashby (4.32 ERA/3.97 FIP/3.40 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (3.50 ERA/3.75 FIP/3.84 xFIP)
Ashby started one game against the Cardinals, throwing just 4 innings and allowing 3 runs. Ashby isn’t bad certainly, but given that he’s a left-handed pitcher, I think he has his work cut out for him, since the Cardinals are 2nd in baseball in wRC+ against LHP. Kind of lucky the Cardinals face two lefties in this series. Feels like the Cardinals play Woodruff, Peralta, and Burnes every series they face them, so it’s nice for that not to be the case this time.
Mikolas looks to shake off a very, very, very bad start against the Rockies. I wouldn’t read anything into it though because it was Coors Field and the hits, they were a-falling. Mikolas didn’t walk a single batter actually. So he’s got that going for him.
My pick: Cardinals
Individual Game Prediction: 27-24
Series Prediction: 6-10
I’m still doing alright on the individual games, but predicting the series has been brutal. As with last time, I am okay when I’m wrong because the Cardinals sweep, otherwise I hope the series works out this time. I am bummed because I don’t think I’m going to be able to watch a single inning this weekend. Work, work, then a surprise party. So hopefully there will be highlights to watch afterwards!