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Brewers vs Orioles series preview

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Brewers come home after a long road series to face a banged up Orioles team.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles have been pretty mediocre this year. They're not exactly bad, but nothing they do is terribly good. As a team they rank 15th in wRC+. Matt Wieters (120 wRC+), Chris Davis (140 wRC+), and Nelson Cruz (159 wRC+) have been their major offensive weapons this year. Cruz already has 16! home runs this year. Adam Jones is another heavy hitter, though he only has 6 home runs this year. I was a little surprised to learn J.J. Hardy hasn't hit a home run at all yet. Chris Davis is on paternity leave until Tuesday so at least we'll miss him for a day. However, Steve Pierce will likely fill in for him and he's done an admirable job so far (61 PA, 333/371/561). Manny Machado has yet to develop into an offensive threat, but he sure fields well. He's been battling a groin strain but he played on Sunday so I imagine he's good to go.

The bullpen is a weak spot for the Orioles. They have the second lowest strikeout rate in baseball. Their three best relievers are Ryan Webb, Zach Britton, and Darren O'Day. Britton and Brian Matusz are their lefites and I feel like both are more than capable of dealing with the Brewers left-handed hitters. After them it's a bunch of nothing.

Monday, May 26th 1:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Chris Tillman

Apparently Chris Tillman has been dealing with a groin strain of his own. He got lit up in his last start for 8 runs (6 earned) in 1 inning. As far as I know he's still set to start on Monday. He "insists he's fine physically and just having command issues." Tillman hadn't been sharp leading up to that start either though. He had 3 good starts at the beginning of the year but since then he's allowed less than 3 runs in only 1 start. Hopefully he doesn't get his command back before Monday. Tillman isn't a big strikeout guy so with Chris Davis gone the Brewers could have a golden opportunity to jump ahead in the series.

Tuesday, May 27th 7:10 pm CT: Matt Garza vs Wei-Yin Chen

Wei-Yin Chen is a perfectly acceptable, perfectly mediocre starting pitcher. He's a lefty that throws around 91 which is okay for a lefty. He has a low strike out rate (14.9 K% this year, 18.1 K% career) and an excellent walk rate (4.4 BB% this year, 6.6 BB% career).  Home runs haven been as much an issue for him this year (0.68 HR/9) as it has in the past (1.18 H/9 career). His batting average against (.298) and WHIP (1.42) reflect his mediocrity, as does his 4.08 ERA which is right around his career average of 4.05 ERA. The Brewers are at their best when facing left handed starters. Chen isn't awful, but I think the Brewers should do well against him.

Wednesday, May 28th 7:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs Bud Norris

I was never a big believer in Bud Norris. His fastball sits around 92-93 but I don't think it's a very good pitch. He'll throw a slider and occasional change-up too. He's having a decent season so far, but his 3.83 ERA is well below his 4.51 FIP. I don't think that's a result of anything special he's doing. His 16.7 K% is the lowest of his career, though so is his 7.4 BB%. His GB% has been on the rise for a few years and is currently the second best rate of his career, so maybe his ERA will be able to beat his FIP this year. Home runs have been a bit of an issue but a 1.12 HR/9 isn't necessarily going to kill him. I don't think Norris bad, he's just mediocre.

Of note for the Brewers: Marco Estrada was originally slated to make the start Wednesday, but Gallardo was deemed ready to come back from his sprained ankle. Marco Estrada will instead start against the Cubs on Friday.

Prediction

I'm feeling pretty good about this series. The first two pitchers are kind of banged up and not particularly good to begin with. Chris Davis will miss a game. Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez are on the mend. I'm thinking 2 out of 3 is a good bet.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.