Many eyes will be on the MLB Draft each of the next three days, but June 9-11also marks a showdown between the NL's hottest team and the NL Central leader.
Sometimes the winding road leads to the top of the mountain. After starting a disappoint 3-8, Brewers fans were left to wonder if they overrated their team just a little bit. However, Milwaukee rebounded for first-year manager Ken Macha, winning a ridiculous 21 of 26 from April 22 to May 19, beginning with a win by tonight's starter Braden Looper.
It was about time to switch gears again, and the NL Central leaders promptly lost 6 of 8. So are they going up or down now? Well, neither. They swept Cincinnati to finish May and are 3-4 in June, with no winning or losing streak greater than 2 games. They're actually just treading water the last week plus. Quite frankly, it was the Rockies who gave them their 2.5 game lead in the division.
Like the Rockies, the Brewers have found themselves on the road frequently, playing 7 more games out of Wisconsin than at home. Still their 16-9 mark at Miller Park is impressive, and only the Dodgers and Red Sox have fewer home losses in the league.
The Rockies won the season series with the Brewers last season 4-3, winning the home series and splitting the 4-game set in Milwaukee. Colorado is 9-7 against teams from the Central divisions, 8-5 on the road.
Milwaukee Brewers (33-24, L1, 1st)
Tuesday-Thursday : 3-game series at Miller Park
The Bats: C
Quick...name the top two most valuable NL outfielders this season. You probably got Raul Ibanez, who is having a fantastic year in Philly. But I bet you didn't think Mike Cameron was #2 in the National League. Cameron has always been a solid fielder, so a plus year offensively would figure to push him up the charts. He has a .396 wOBA (better than every Rockie save Brad Hawpe) this season thus far despite just a .317 BABip.
Then, of course, you have Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun to deal with. It's a high-risk, high-reward team. Milwaukee is hitting below .250 as a team and they are sixth in MLB in striking out, but they are also tied with the Rockies for fifth with 67 HR. Their lineup is not as barren as the Cardinals', but outside of Macha's 3-5 hitters, there really isn't much there. Their team wOBA is just .330, which is slightly below league average. Main culprits are Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart, all of which are having very disappointing years thus far. Rickie Weeks was on the cusp of breaking out before being injured May 17.
The Arms: B
Milwaukee's staff is ranked 9th in ERA with a solid 4.14 mark. That might be surprising when seeing ERA's of 4.65, 4.66 and 6.86, but their bullpen has been a lynchpin. With a bullpen ERA of 3.10, Ken Macha possesses the third best MLB pen by ERA. They also lead the majors in team saves, have the fewest bullpen losses (6) and allow just a .210 average against, best in the bigs.
Only Heath Bell has more saves than Trevor Hoffman, who has no blown saves, and has allowed zero runs and 8 baserunners all year. Throw in the fact that we miss their worst two starting pitchers by ERA - Jeff Suppan and Manny Parra - and we will be getting their best shot from the mound.
The D: B
Milwaukee has committed 32 errors, three less than the Rockies and good enough for middle-of-the pack. However, note that they lead the majors in UZR/150.
Miller Park has a multi-year park factor of 100, the very definition of neutral.
Tonight, 6:05 pm MDT
|2009 - Jason Hammel||2-3||4.50||1.60||31||14|
|2009 - Braden Looper||5-3||4.65||1.39||35||21|
Wednesday, June 10, 6:05 pm MDT
|2009 - Jorge De La Rosa||1-6||5.28||1.42||64||28|
|2009 - Yovani Gallardo||6-2||2.84||1.08||71||28|
Thursday, June 11, 12:05 MDT
|2009 - Aaron Cook||4-3||4.50||1.40||32||26|
Brewers pitcher YTD. Dave Bush suffered an injury in his last start and has yet to be given a green light for Thursday.
Prince Fielder is always a terrifying human being, but lately especially. He is 11-for-21 the past week with HR and 4 BBs. That figures to be a 1.790 week OPS, just for fun. Ryan Braun is 8-for-25 in that same span, also with 3 HR. And as noted above, Trevor Hoffman has yet to allow a run all season in 17 appearances.
Rickie Weeks (wrist) is still on the 15-day DL for an injury he suffered in May 17's game. David Riske was placed on the 60-day DL the first week of the season, yet the Brewers bullpen has managed just fine in his absence. Dave Bush (elbow) is listed as probable for Thursday's start.