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Brewers (41-52) vs Indians (44-47) series preview

The Brewers host the Indians for the first time in years and they both have similarly poor records. It seems fitting that two awful teams play on a night (Tue) when a "Major League" themed bobblehead will be given out.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers host the Indians for the first time in years but this will be a brief encounter. The series is only two games and will begin on Tuesday. For those that collect bobbleheads Tuesday's game holds special important. The Brewers will be handing out a Harry Doyle bobblehead. Doyle was the character from the movie "Major League" played by Bob Uecker. This bobblehead is special as it recites several iconic lines from the movie.

The Indians record if pretty atrocious but to be fair their team hasn't been awful. It's actually rather perplexing how they've been this bad. Their team offense ranks 12th in baseball (100 wRC+) and their team pitching ranks 8th (3.81 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 11.2 fWAR).

Deconstructing the pitching staff doesn't yield any immediate answers either. The rotation ranks 9th in baseball (4.12 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 9.4 fWAR). The bullpen ranks 13th (3.13 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.9 fWAR). Obviously the 4.12 ERA from the rotation has a lot to do with where the Indians are. That's the 12th worst ERA in baseball. But it still doesn't answer why as the Indians have the 8th best FIP.

The answer must lie in their defensive woes. They rank 27th according to FanGraphs Defense metric (-18.6). Still, the Yankees have been much worse and only marginally better in offense and pitching. They have a much better record. The Indians must be getting some bad luck to go along with their terrible defense. Or the Yankees could be getting some good luck.

Offensive Spotlight

Jason Kipnis broke out in 2013 hitting 284/366/452 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Last year he seemed to break down. He hit 240/310/330 and hit 6 home runs with 22 stolen bases. A lot of people gave up on him after that season. This year he's back to being great: 326/405/485 with 6 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

Pitching Match-Ups

Tuesday July 20, 7:10 pm CST: Matt Garza vs Danny Salazar

Salazar spent some time on the disabled list this year but has now made 16 starts throwing 98 innings. He's been quite effective: 28.6 K%, 6.4 BB%, .232 BAA, 1.15 WHIP, 3.74 ERA, 3.36 FIP.

He throws fastball (93-95), change-up, slider, and curveball.

Wednesday July 21, 7:10 pm CST: Kyle Lohse vs Cody Anderson

Cody Anderson will be making his 5th career MLB start. Before his call up his split time in AA and AAA having been very effective in both spots. In his preseason rankings Kiley McDaniel's placed Anderson 13th in the 45-grade range. McDaniel notes command is or was an issue for Anderson but if he can find that he could be a 3/4 starter. So far he's seen really good result (0.89 ERA) despite a low strike out rate (10.3 K%).

He reportedly has a fastball in the 91-93 range, above average slider, average but inconsistent curveball, and fringey change-up.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs