Hey! The Brewers won a bunch of games and the rest of the division didn't, especially the Reds. Because we swept them. Huzzah! Actually, the Pirates kind of kicked the crap out of the Dodgers. They're tied with the Cards 2.5 games back of the Brewers and the Reds are 5.5 games back. Seriously though, the Pirates have been kicking the crap out of a lot of teams. We're not here to talk about their crap kicking ways though, we're here to talk about the crappy Mets who the Brewers are lucky enough to face for a 4 game series. Huzzah again!
The Mets are 21st in runs scored per game (3.93) and 20th in wRC+ (93). Somewhat surprisingly, among regulars, Lucas Duda has been their biggest offensive threat (138 wRC+). Curtis Granderson (118 wRC+) and Daniel Murphy (111 wRC+) haven't exactly been awful, but clearly they haven't had dynamic offensive seasons. The only other regular above 100 wRC+ is David Wright (112 wRC+) but he's having quite the down year. Some of their part time contributors have been decent: Eric Campbell (126 wRC+), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (129 wRC+), and Bobby Abreu (107 wRC+). Outside of those players the offense has been a complete disaster.
The Mets pitching staff has actually been pretty decent. As a team they rank 10th best with 3.80 runs allowed per game. The bullpen has been pretty good. Their closer is newcomer Jenry Meija. After a failed attempt at starting, Meija has been pretty excellent in late relief. Jeurys Familia has also been excellent as a difficult to pronounce set-up man. If I was a Mets fan I'd be pretty excited about that young duo. Actually, Carlos Torres has been about as effective as those two. Josh Edgin has had really good results, but he's pretty mediocre. I'd say the same thing about Vic Black. His absurd walk rate keeps him from being very good. Dana Eveland has had decent results in his 16.2 innings since being promoted at the end of May. He's not that good though. Daisuke Matsuzaka is also a starter converted to reliever this year. He's got a pretty high strikeout rate but his walk rate is pretty absurd.
Up and down this bullpen has gotten some pretty good results. The Brewers have a solid offense, but just to be on the safe side they'd better hope they have the lead going into the 7th or 8th inning.
Thursday July 24th, 7:10 pm CT: Matt Garza vs Dillon Gee
Dillon Gee is a perfectly viable back-end starter. I'm am surprised though at how well his ERA looks (2.92). He doesn't have a high strikeout rate (17.5%), his HR/9 is mediocre (1.11), and his 44.7% ground ball rate paired with his 11.1 home run to fly ball ratio suggests he's being helped by his ballpark. His walk rate is really low (6.2%) as is his BAA (.218) and subsequently his WHIP (1.08). However, his .237 BABIP is unsustainable. He has a fringey fastball (89 mph) but compliments it with an equal mix of slider, change-up, and curveball. Batters are making contact against his pitches at an above average rate. As long as the Brewers follow suit, I think we could see a home run barrage tonight in the friendly confines of Miller Park.
Friday July 25th, 7:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs Zack Wheeler
Zack Wheeler is a decent mid-rotation guy. Walks are a bit of an issue (9.7 BB%) and he's getting hit at a slightly above average rate (.251 BAA). As a result his WHIP (1.36) is in pretty poor shape. He does strikeout at an above average clip (23.1 K%) and keeps the ball in the yard (0.63 HR/9) and on the ground (53.5 GB%). Brewers are going to have to be patient against him. He throws fewer first strike pitches than average and his pitches are out of the zone at a slightly higher rate than average. If the Brewers can avoid swinging at those pitches they should be okay.
Saturday July 26th, 6:10 pm CT: Wily Peralta vs Jon Niese
Jon Niese is another 3/4 type pitcher. He kind of reminds me of Shaun Marcum in a good way. They have a similar pitch mix and Niese's velocity on his fastball (88 mph) is down around Marcum levels. Niese isn't a flyball pitcher though. He keeps the ball on the ground about 50% of the time. His 17.5 K% and .255 BAA are below average while his 6.6 BB% and 1.26 WHIP are slightly above average. I always feel more confident in a pitching match-up when I see average or below average BAA. The Brewers strikeout a lot and don't take walks so I don't look at a pitchers walk rate that much and even a below average K% could be boosted by the Brewers hitters. But, a pitcher that gives up hits is still going to give up hits to the Brewers. And with the bats they have, they're probably going to be hard hits. That's the way I think about it anyway.
Sunday July 27th, 1:10 pm CT: Jimmy Nelson vs Jacob DeGrom
Jacob DeGrom is a rookie this year and he's having a hell of a campaign so far. His 3.01 ERA isn't far off from his 3.10 FIP. He's striking out batters at an above average rate (23.7%). His walk rate is high though (8.7%). His .247 BAA and 1.29 WHIP are almost exactly league average. His minor league numbers suggest his K% might come down some and with his average BAA and WHIP that means his ERA will go up. Sunday is as good a time as any for that change to begin.
If it weren't for the Mets crappy offense I'd say the Brewers have their hands full. I really like their pitching staff. When Matt Harvey returns next near, and with the possible addition of Noah Syndergaard, it's going to be really excellent. For right now, it's just okay. That bullpen though, man. Let's hope the Brewers can avoid giving them a late lead, which I think they can. The Brewers offense has been heating up recently and as noted several times, the Mets offense mostly sucks. This is probably a series where the Brewers should, and can, win 3 out of 4. If the offense stays hot maybe they can keep the sweep going. That's probably too much to hope for though.
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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs