The Brewers might be getting to Cincinnati just in time. After a very disappointing weekend in Atlanta, a week against Reds pitching might be what's needed to get the bats going again. That's especially true for Eric Thames, who is hitting .440/.576/1.400 (that's a slugging percentage, not a total OPS) with 8 home runs in 7 games against Cincinnati this year.
He's struggled mightily in the 50 games he's played since he last saw the Reds on April 26th, though, hitting just .198/.327/.413 in 205 plate appearances, striking out 60 times and walking 30. He's been the victim of a low .243 BABIP in that time, but it's hard to ignore just how much of his overall production may be getting propped up by those first two Reds series.
But hey, at least he has three more games against them this week. Based on previous history he's due for about 4 home runs. That's just science.
After a brief run in first place during the season's first few weeks, the Reds are back where most people thought they would be, squarely in the cellar of the Central with a record of 31-44 and 8.5 games behind the Brewers. They followed a 4-game sweep of the Cardinals earlier this month by losing 13 of their next 15 games. Joey Votto (.305/.416/.588, 20 home runs, 51 walks, 36 strikeouts in 272 AB), Zack Cozart (.320/.404/.562, 9 home runs, 16 doubles) and Scooter Gennett (.306/.344/.584, 11 home runs and 40 RBI, but 4 home runs and 10 RBI in one game) are hitting. Not much else is going right for them.
The Brewers swept Cincinnati in Miller Park on April 24-26, helping the team briefly get above .500 and get within a game of first place in the NL Central. In the series' first game, the Brewers scored 10 runs in the first four innings and almost lost anyway, hanging on for an 11-7 win in a game in which they committed 4 errors. Play improved the next two games, with the Brewers winning 9-1 and 9-4 (although the Brewers also committed 3 errors in the series finale).
Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Junior Guerra vs. Tim Adleman
It's sort of fitting these two face each other, as Adleman was also an 'old' rookie last year, making his MLB debut at the age of 28 after being a 24th round pick in 2010. He's turned into a decent enough middle-of-the-rotation starter despite any truly outstanding skills. The Brewers saw him in April, when he allowed just 1 run on 2 hits and struck out 5 over 4 innings of relief. More recently, he's struggled with his control, walking 4 batters in each of his past two starts and allowing a home run in his past 5 starts. Eric Thames homered against him in April.
Wednesday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Chase Anderson vs. Luis Castillo
The 24-year-old Castillo made his MLB debut on June 23rd against the Nationals, allowing 10 baserunners (5 hits, 5 walks) but allowing just 2 runs -- both coming on solo home runs. Castillo is ranked as the Reds' 5th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline and top pitching prospect, coming to Cincinnati in an offseason trade for Dan Straily. His fastball touches the upper 90s, but slows his changeup down to 85. In 14 minor league starts before his debut, he struck out 81 batters and walked just 13 in 80.1 innings.
Thursday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Jimmy Nelson vs. Homer Bailey
Bailey finally made his first start of 2017 on Saturday and it, uh, did not go well. In his first start back from offseason elbow surgery, the 31-year-old was crushed for 8 runs in just 1.2 innings by the Nationals. Almost amazingly, none of that damage was done on home runs -- just 6 hits and 3 walks. After signing a 6-year, $105 million extension before the 2014 season, Bailey has only made 32 starts in the 3.5 years since, and just 9 starts in the past 2.5 years. He's making $19 million this year and is on the books for $21 million next year and $23 million in 2019 before the Reds can pay a $5 million buyout in 2020. That, friends, is a bad pitching contract. Bailey has a career 4.64 ERA against the Brewers in 22 starts.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference