Time for a series win! The Brewers have lost each of their five series this year, and their losing streak goes even further back into 2014 (sorry, I just don’t want to revisit that this morning). The Cardinals have the Brewers’ number, going 37-19 against our beloved Milwaukee Nine since the 2011 National League Championship Series. As if the place of the Cardinals in Brewers playoff lore is not bad enough, the Brewers have been padding their W-L record for quite some time now. So, there’s no better time for a series victory than now. It’s not enough to play the Cardinals close and respectably, only to lose. It is time for a series win!
Cardinals: Series Win @ Washington
Brewers: Series Loss vs. Reds [four games]
The Cardinals played the Washington Nationals about as close as possible, losing in a walk-off for their only loss in that three game set. The Brewers completed a difficult home series against Cincinnati with a close victory, which hopefully aligned the team’s timely hitting, starting pitching, and relief to the same track.
Cardinals: 55 RS / 32 RA
Brewers: 46 RS / 91 RA
Presented without comment.
Probable Pitching MatchUps from MLB.com. Subject to change.
[Game 1] Carlos Martinez @ Matt Garza
Youngster Carlos Martinez has faced the Brewers more than any club except for the Cincinnati Reds, and he can already boast great success against Milwaukee in his short career. Over 18.3 innings (mostly in relief), Martinez claims a 1.96 ERA and 0-1 record against the Brewers. In fact, the divide between Martinez’s starting performance and relief performance is even more extreme, as every run Martinez allowed against the Brewers occurred during his July 13 start last year (4 IP, 4 R).
Last year, Martinez threw two hard riding fastballs (averaging between 96-98 MPH), and he selected his slider nearly three times more frequently than his change. However, his troublesome start against Milwaukee foreshadowed his 2015 approach, as the young righty threw an equal number of sliders and change ups. This year, Martinez’s velocity is “down,” which might be attributed to his primary starting role with St. Louis. Anyway, now his offspeed selections mirror his Milwaukee start, and he is almost in “junkball” territory: while nearly 25% of his offerings are sliders, 24% are now change ups, meaning that both those pitches are catching up to his 32% primary fastball. Martinez is exactly the type of pitcher the Brewers must solve in order to improve their offense: the bats fare worst against fastballs and sliders, so Martinez could be precisely the medicine to solve that issue (or, yet another ailment).
Matt Garza simply could not beat the Pirates with his fastball during his last outing. The righty went with the hard stuff, throwing each of his fastballs and slider at almost equal clips. Unfortunately, he never had a feel for the zone, as Garza walked three (he also struck out three Pittsburgh bats). Thus far, Garza is alternating stretches of brilliance with difficult outings in 2015, which is one source of the Brewers’ early rotation woes. Following Kyle Lohse and Jimmy Nelson, Garza has a chance not only to correct his own approach, but also to follow those slider-ball pitchers’ quality outings with an excellent outing of his own. Hopefully some good old-fashioned competition gets the Brewers starters in order.
[Game 2] Adam Wainwright @ Wily Peralta
Even though the Cardinals and Brewers just faced one another, the clubs had different off-days, which knocked both rotations out of sync. This means the Brewers and Cardinals will face one another without a starting pitching rematch for this coming series.
Adam Wainwright provides the Brewers with a perfect strength-vs-strength match up. The veteran righty favors his cutter and curve as his favorite pitches, and the Brewers favor the cutter and curve at their plate. This gives the Brewers an excellent opportunity to smack some hits, save for Wainwright’s control and pitching acumen. I can almost guarantee that you’ll see that big, looping bender more than a few times on Saturday, but if Wainwright cannot locate his mid-80s cutter, the Brewers will need to forego that curve in favor of swings against that moving fastball.
Wily Peralta went to the well a few too many times by repeating fastball locations against Cincinnati Reds batters, and they sure made him pay. This is an unfortunate turn of events, for Peralta almost certainly did not pitch as poorly as his overall line against the Reds. Peralta’s outing against St. Louis will give him a specific chance to change things up against a rival, as the young righty just faced the Cardinals on tax day. The sinker was Peralta’s favored weapon during that start, which leads one to wonder if he will come back with his big, primary fastball and change up on Saturday.
[Game 3] Lance Lynn @ Mike Fiers
Fastball, fastball, fastball. Need I say more? We all know that Lance Lynn likes facing the Brewers, we all know he throws fastballs in eight-of-ten offerings, and we all know he accomplishes this with location and aggression. Hopefully the Brewers bats are ready to aggressively pounce on any errant offering from Lynn, as that may be their only chance against the full-time fastball / slider specialist.
Fastballer Mike Fiers has a big test after the Cincinnati Reds pummeled him during an extremely frustrating slugfest in his last start. The righty worked with no margin for error during his start against the Cardinals, but he was also unable to work with a lively offense against the Reds. Not unlike his tough 2013 start, Fiers is increasing his change up usage, and he selected that offspeed offering more than his curve or cutter against Cincinnati. Now, Fiers must show that the increased change up selections will not be the source of his early season derailment yet again: he used the pitch perfectly against the Cardinals in St. Louis, which means it might be time to shelve it to truly change things up against St. Louis in Miller Park. When Fiers is at his best, he is carving batters with his fastball, cutter, and curve, and one might wonder whether the change, though the source of some success, distracts the righty from what got him to the show.