Last time I wrote this type of article I argued the Brewers caught a lucky break in the pitchers they faced during the Atlanta series. I also though the Brewers could have had an easier match-up in Boston had they faced different pitchers and skipped Wily Peralta. I think it’s fair to say I was spectacularly wrong. I still think my reasoning was sound though. Regardless of how they got there, the Brewers are now 4-2 after a week in which I would have been happy with a 3-3 record. This week presents them with an opportunity to build on that success.
The first three games this week are against the Phillies who are no longer the powerhouse of the NL East. The Brewers will be facing Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, and Cliff Lee. Kendrick and Hernandez pitchers are nothing special, though both have fared well enough in their first starts. Cliff Lee is still a very good pitcher and I’m ignoring his current season 6.00 ERA. That being said, he is a LHP and even though they didn’t against Alex Wood, I still maintain that the Brewers line-up can crush a lefty.
The Phillies offense is pretty mediocre. They still have a few solid bats in Chase Utley, Domonic Brown, and Carlos Ruiz but Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard aren’t what they used to be. As an added advantage, Utley will miss at least the first game. The Brewers will send Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, and Marco Estrada to the mound and that has me feeling pretty confident. In the Braves’ series I thought things broke right for the Brewers allowing them the chance to win 2 games. Here, against the Phillies, I feel like the Brewers are supposed to win 2 out of 3.
Things should be tougher against the Pirates. The scheduled starters are Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, and Charlie Morton. Each of these pitchers has gotten off to a solid start, but I’m not too intimated by the trio. The best pitcher of the bunch is Liriano, and again, the Brewers really should have an easier time against left-handers. That’s just on paper though. We’ll have to hope the Pirates aren’t able to secure a lead late in a game because they have Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli in the bullpen. They’re two of the best relievers in the National League so scoring runs off them won't be easy.
I probably don’t have to tell you the Pirates’ offense is a good deal better than the Phillies. Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte are the headliners but Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Russell Martin are decent bats too. It’s not the kind of offense that is going to overwhelm a team, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’ll have to face Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, and Kyle Lohse. Peralta and Gallardo are the two pitchers I feel least confident about, but so far they’ve impressed me. I know Peralta got hit around in Boston, but a large part of that was shoddy defense.
I’m feeling pretty good about the Phillies series and I really do think the Brewers should take at least two there. Sweeps don’t happen all that often so, while I think there's a chance, I’m not predicting that. The Pittsburgh series is hard to judge. Overall the Pirates are a tougher team, but I’m really not intimidated by Volquez and Morton. Of course if I was a Pirates fan I might be saying the same thing about Gallardo and Peralta. Going 3-3 would have been a pretty good outcome for the first week. I feel like the Brewers have an easier 6 games this time around so I’m going to put my fan hat on and say the Brewers end Sunday having gone 4-2 for the second straight week pushing their season record to 8-4. I wonder in what ways I will be spectacularly wrong this time around!