Brewers @ Cardinals series preview

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers meet the Cardinals for the second time this year and first time in St. Louis. They're looking to avenge their 2-1 series loss at home.

The Brewers offense has scuffled a bit here and there and it's truly been the pitching that has carried them to a major league leading 18-7 record. The same can be said of the Cardinals, however their offense has been far worse. As a team they rank 22nd with a 90 wRC+. They did make some roster changes last night sending down Kolton Wong and Shane Robinson for Randal Grichuk and Greg Garcia so perhaps that will help jump start something. It seems unlikely to have a huge impact though as both will be bench players for now. Brewers are 13th at exactly 100 wRC+ but will be without Ryan Braun and Jean Segura. Cardianls' pitching ranks 10th with a ERA/FIP/xFIP triple slash of 2.76/3.19/3.51. They've been really good at getting strike outs and their team 23.6% K rate ranks third, just above the Brewers' 23.5%. Their walk rate is a little more mediocre at 8.3% (20th). What kind of surprised me is the Brewers have the lowest walk rate in MLB with 6.1%.

Monday, April 28th 7:15 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs Michael Wacha

Gallardo has always had trouble facing the Cardinals. I don't really believe in that sort of thing, but I suppose it's possible it's gotten in his head and messed with his confidence which could mess with his pitches in some fashion. That kind of thinking seems like a bit of a stretch though. Besides, this is a new Gallardo with a new pitching philosophy. I'll be interested to see how his pitch-to-contact approach plays against what has to date been a pretty sub par Cardinals offense. As a team they've hit the 9th most ground balls at 48.5%.

The good news is the Brewers will again miss Adam Wainwright. The bad news is they will face Wacha for the first time this year. This guy has been ridiculous so far. He's struck out 28.5% of batters face. That's probably going to come down a bit at some point, but even last year he struck out a quarter of the batters he faced. He doesn't walk guys or give up home runs either and his opponents batting average was .216 last year and .206 this year. The Brewers offense will be without Ryan Braun and Jean Segura so they're really going to earn it if they can win this game.

Tuesday, April 29th 7:15 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Lance Lynn

Kyle Lohse will be facing his former club for the first time this year. He's been very good so far and he's coming off his best start where he pitched 7 innings allowing 2 runs (1 earned). I see no reason to worry about this start for him. His strikeouts are coming back down to Earth, but again, that's never really been what he tries to do. Busch Stadium will help suppress home run power but the Cardinals have hit the fewest fly balls in MLB and their 7.5% HR/FB rate is among the lowest as well.

Last time the Brewers faced Lynn he held them to 3 hits and 0 runs through 7 innings. He throws mostly fastballs and sliders with an occasional curveball and change to keep hitters guessing. He's a solid pitcher but it just seems like the Brewers let him off easy last time. I want to believe sooner rather than later they're going to be able to punish a guy with his stuff.

Wednesday, April 30th 12:45 pm CT: Matt Garza vs Shelby Miller

Matt Garza has kind of gotten beaten up this year. He's had two really excellent games and three pretty mediocre to bad games. One of those mediocre games game against the Cardinals when he allowed 4 runs through 7 innings. The Cardinals offense is just so bad this year, or at least it has been. Hopefully this time around Garza will be able to find a way to expose that.

Shelby Miller has been the Cardinals worst starting pitcher this year as evidenced by his 5.62 FIP. He's also been the luckiest as evidenced by his 2.86 ERA. Sooner or later he's either going to have to get better or meet some regression. I'd like to say there's hope for the latter but he seems to have righted the ship since facing Milwaukee the first time around. He held the Brewers to 3 hits, allowing 1 run and striking out 7 in 6 innings. Since then he's not allowed a run in 12 innings across two starts. That sounds grim.

Prediction

Ugh. I hate the Cardinals. Tony LaRussa is gone and so is Albert Pujols so at this point I mostly just hate Yadier Molina and the fact that the Cardinals always seem to crush the Brewers. This series looks kind of miserable on paper. I can't find an argument that isn't just pure optimism to say the Brewers should win this series. They could, but they've got several things working against them. The Cardinals pitching has been almost as good as the Brewers'. Their offense blows but the Brewers haven't exactly been juggernauts either. Plus Ryan Braun and Jean Segura will likely both be unavailable for the entire series. I'm going to predict two rain-outs and a 1-1 double header on Wednesday. What? That's only kind of cheating. It could happen...

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs

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