Here's an fun fact. Going into Friday's game the Brewers and Giants had exactly the same run differential: +48. Actual level of fun derived from that fact may vary from person to person. The Brewers got there with a top offense (7th, 4.30 RS/G) and a middle of the ground pitching staff (15th, 4.02 RA/G). The Giants got there with a bottom ten offense (20th, 3.93 RS/G) and a top ten pitching staff (6th, 3.64 RA/G).
Here are the top players at each position according to MLB.com's depth chart (in order of wRC+): Michael Morse (135 wRC+), Hunter Pence (131), Buster Posey (130), Pablo Sandoval (116), Angel Pagan (113), Joe Panik (107), Travis Ishikawa (97), Brandon Crawford (93). That's actually quite formidable. Most of this group has actually performed even better over the last 30 days and even more so in the last 14 days. Pagan and Crawford have actually performed worse.
The good news is the Giants current bullpen is pretty mediocre. Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, and George Kontos have been pretty solid. Javier Lopez has seen good results, but they might be luck based as his BB% is almost as high as his K%. Juan Gutierrez and Sergio Romo just haven't been very good. Tim Lincecum was recently demoted from the rotation to the bullpen. The move could help him, as it has in the past, but he was pretty awful as a starter this year.
Friday, August 29th - 9:15 pm CT: Wily Peralta vs Ryan Vogelsong
Vogelsong is having a pretty good year. He has a 3.78 ERA/3.68 FIP/4.00 xFIP. He has a solid 19.2 K% which is just below league average (20.3%). He's been very good at limiting home runs (0.78 HR/9). His 2.52 BAA is worse than average but his 6.8 BB% is better than average resulting in an essentially league average 1.26 WHIP. Overall he's a bit better than average, but not an overwhelming pitcher. The only time he faced the Brewers this year he held them to 1 run (on a home run) over 7 innings while only striking out 3 batters and walking 1.
Of note for the Brewers: Wily Peralta had his worst outing of his career in his previous start. I think it's probably a safe bet he won't give up 3 home runs at AT&T. I'm looking forward to a rebound start.
Saturday, August 30th - 8:05 pm CT: Mike Fiers vs Jake Peavy
As a member of the Red Sox (20 starts, 124 IP) Jake Peavy had a 4.72 ERA/4.80 FIP/4.31 xFIP. As a member of the Giants (6 starts, 39.2 IP) he has a 3.18 ERA/3.21 FIP/4.04 xFIP. He's struck out fewer batters, but also walk fewer as a Giant. His .257 BAA is still worse than average, but better than his previous mark of .268. The main difference however, is his 0.45 HR/9 in SF. In Boston he had a 1.45 HR/9. I find it hard to believe he can continue having such a low HR/9, but AT&T is a pitcher's park. It doesn't really matter what he does the rest of the season if he can hold off the Brewers power this night. That being said, the Brewers did score 3 runs off him in 5.2 IP without a home run the last time they faced him.
Sunday, August 31st - 3:05 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner is a beast. He has a 20.7 K%-BB%. That's higher than Vogelson's K%! His .233 BAA is better than average as is his 1.09 WHIP. He also have a low 0.78 HR/9. His pitching slash line is 3.02 ERA/2.86 FIP/2.89 xFIP. His FIP and xFIP actually suggest he's better than his already excellent ERA. That impressive. The Brewers have not faced Bumgarner this year.
Of note for the Brewers: This is Kyle Lohse's second start since missing time due to an ankle injury. His ankle was tested in his last start and held up fine, so hopefully he's passed that. Despite good results, he was a little shaky in that start. That was to be expected because of the time between starts. Now that he's back on regular rest we can be hopeful for a sharper outing.
This is a very tough Giants team. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders right now and that's scary because they have a very good pitching staff (though more so the rotation). After seeing the Brewers handle Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Steven Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, etc. this year, I'm not going to count them out of any game anymore. Still, they have a tall order with the three starters they're going to face. However, you can say the same thing about the Giants regarding the Brewers 3 starters. And, while the Giants offense has been white hot, the Brewers have had a better one all season. Honestly, I'm not sure who is going to win. I think in the end, the team that scores the most runs in each game is going to win. You can quote me on that.
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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs