The second place Brewers look to retake first place in the NL central before the pivotal matchup with the Cubs starting on Tuesday. The Giants stand in the way. Here is what to look for in the series. [bumped --- roguejim]
The Crew come in after a bit of a surprising series against the Diamondbacks where they took two of three games and played well against Brandon Webb in the third. Again, this team is built around the offense and particularly the long ball as they lead all of baseball with 178 homer on the year. AT&T park is notoriously hard on home run hitters second only to RFK in this new study based on hittracker results. Can the Brewers find other ways to score in this series against the strong pitching of the Giants?
The Giants are throwing Noah Lowry, Kevin Correia, and Tim Lincecum in the series. The Brewers will counter with Vargas going tonight then either Gallardo or Sheets tomorrow and either Gallardo or Bush Sunday. Ned had this to say about Sheets from MLB.com
That means if Sheets pitches Saturday against the Giants, he would be available to pitch five days later against the Cubs in the finale of a series at Wrigley Field.
"Benny doesn't need the rest," Yost said of Sheets, who has not pitched since July 14 because of torn tissue in his right middle finger. Sheets suffered the blister during a simulated game earlier this week that was supposed to be his final hurdle before returning to action.
"It ain't better, but it's getting better," Sheets said Wednesday after getting treatment for the blister.
Yost said he expects to make a decision by Friday. If Sheets is unable to start Saturday, right-hander Yovani Gallardo could pitch on regular rest, but Yost was just as interested in the longer term.
"It just doesn't hinge on Saturday," Yost said. "Saturday changes a lot of things if Benny can pitch or if he can't pitch."
Maybe Ned was reading this post about the potential eight starts Sheets could have when he returns because it looks like Ned is going to go back to skipping starters and it looks like Vargas is going to get the short end of the stick. As much as I have criticized Ned for some of his decisions this one could really help the Crew as they battle for the division title. I'd be shocked if Sheets didn't make the start Saturday with both Manny Parra and now Chris Capuano fully rested there is very little risk in throwing Sheets Saturday. Also in that ballpark and with the Giants anemic offense it seems like a perfect time to get back on the hill for Benny.
A quick look at the Giants starters. Noah Lowry is a lefty that seems to have been around forever though he is just 26. Lowry has a sparkling 3.34 ERA despite only 82 strikeouts in 148 innings and 82 walks! How is he doing it? Well he is getting hit lucky and keeping the ball in the yard with only eight homers allowed this year. The crew will be breaking out the right handers tonight especially with Fielder suspended so if Hart isn't in the lineup then you know something is seriously wrong with his elbow (or Ned hates him that much). I am assuming Dillon will be at first for at least this game. It will be interesting to see the Brewer's approach with Lowry as they are not a very patient team.
Correia is making just his second start this year after pitching much of the past few years in the bullpen for the Giants. He has a pretty decent stikeout rate and doesn't walk too many batters but has had a problem with the longball in his career. He only went 4 1/3 in his start this year so I'd recommend waiting him out and getting to the middle relief.
What is there to say about Lincecum that you don't already know? He didn't pitch well in his start at miller park but has been very good recently. He is a big strikeout guy so he could rake up the Ks against us. Hopefully we will have won the first two games like the D'backs series and this game will be icing. If it is Gallardo against Lincecum the game should get some national attention and could be very low scoring. Bonds shouldn't play in that game so that Gallardo could look even better than usual. I don't often recommend small ball especially with this team but two or three runs could easily win this one so every run will count.
Lastly, I was at the WV Power game last night and put up a blog post on it. I mentioned it in the minor league thread but it is way at the bottom so you might have missed it. If you are interested you can check it out.