The Brewers just lost 2 out of 3 against the Pirates. It was pretty ugly but all things considered, it could have been much worse. The Cardinals also lost 2 out of 3 (but against a Phillies team that is much worse than the Pirates). So ultimately, the Brewers didn't lose any ground to the Cardinals and only 1 game to the Pirates. I can live with that. Now they travel west to face one of baseball's weakest teams: The Padres.
San Diego has scored 3.29 runs per game. That's the fewest of all the 30 clubs by a rather large margin. The next team on the list is the Reds with 3.77 RS/G. The Padres really only have one legitimate offense threat. That would be Seth Smith (153 wRC+). Newly promoted Rymer Liriano (113 wRC+) and relatively newly acquired Yangervis Solarte (109 wRC+ as a member of the Padres) have been okay. After that it's easily the weakest offensive crew I think I've ever seen.
That being said, since the All-Star break they have gone 19-15 scoring a decent amount of runs. Yonder Alonso (239 wRC+ in the last 30 days) and Jedd Gyorko (141 wRC+ in last 30) especially, have really kicked it in gear. Unfortunately for the Padres, Alonso was just lost for the season and Gyorko has been dealing with a sore hamstring. How this series goes for the Brewers is going to have a lot to do with which offense shows up. Fortunately, Petco will help the Brewers pitchers keep the ball in the park, which has arguably been their biggest problem.
To their credit, they've always had an admirable pitching staff which is only aided by the friendly confines of Petco. They traded their original closer Huston Street, but held onto the right one in Joaquin Benoit. I'd argue he's their only excellent reliever, but at the same time, there isn't a weak link either. Alex Torres has been their least effective reliever (due to a high walk rate) and he still has a 2.78 ERA.
Monday, August 25th 9:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Eric Stults
Fortunately for the Brewers, they face two of the Padres least effective starters, Eric Stults being one of them. Stults pairs a poor 14.8 K% with a poor 1.40 HR/9 and an truly horrible .272 BAA. The only thing he seems to do well is limit walks (5.8 BB%). However it's pretty easy to have a low walk rate when you're giving up a ton of hits. Also, Stults is a lefty so the Brewers should employ their RHH lineup.
Of note for the Brewers: This game with mark Kyle Lohse's triumphant return to the rotation after hurting his ankle. Lohse had been going through a short rough patch, possibly due to a weak ankle. He last pitched 12 days prior so we might see him struggle with location. Hopefully it won't sink him.
Tuesday, August 26th 9:10 pm CT: Jimmy Nelson vs Tyson Ross
Tyson Ross is pretty excellent. He has a great 23.7 K% to go along with an equally solid .221 BAA, and 0.62 HR/9. His 8.6 BB% is a little high, but it doesn't show up in his better than average 1.17 WHIP. The Brewers have their work cut out for them.
Wednesday, August 27th 9:10 pm CT: Yovani Gallardo vs Odrisamer Despaigne
Despaigne went on a tear when he was first called up. He didn't allow more than 2 runs in his first 6 starts. In his 5 starts since then he's given up 18 runs. Despaigne's K% is just as bad as Stults' and his walk rate is much higher. The main difference is that his .237 BAA and 0.69 HR/9 isn't near as atrocious.
While the Padres offense has been a lot better in recent weeks, I'm not convinced it's a sign of breakthrough rather than the luck factor in a 162 game season. It's also lost one of it's (recently) better contributors. And while the Padres have some pretty good pitching in total, they're sending two of their lesser starters to the mound. I think the math favors the Brewers.
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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs