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Series Preview: San Francisco Giants @ Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers hope to snap a streak of slow series starts against one of the NL’s most surprisingly bad teams

San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Brewers have been mostly treading water for the past week or two, but still find themselves atop the NL Central as they get ready to start another series. They're 5-5 in their past 10 games, and if you haven't noticed, they've developed a bit of a trend of starting series slowly.

They've also been surprisingly underwhelming at home, putting up a record of just 15-17 at Miller Park so far this year. Luckily, the San Francisco Giants may be what cures all of those ailments.

The Giants enter the series at 23-35, tied for the most losses in Major League Baseball. They currently carry a -64 run differential and are just 10-21 on the road. They're suffering through all of that despite carrying an Opening Day payroll of $181.5 million.

Buster Posey is still playing like one of the best players in baseball, hitting .343/.439/.512 with 7 home runs and 7 doubles in 47 games, but much of the rest of the lineup has been disappointing. Brandon Belt is hitting just .234 with a .795 OPS, Brandon Crawford is an OPS+ of 92, and Hunter Pence is hitting a brutal .241/.287/.336.

The Giants have had a lot of success in the past 8 or so years, but the core is getting old, and the pitching hasn't been able to carry poor offense like they have a few times in recent years.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, 6:40 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin (MLB Network out-of-market) - Jeff Samardzija vs. Junior Guerra

Samardzija comes into the series with a league-leading 7 losses and a 4.63 ERA, but the underlying numbers suggest he's been a bit unlucky. Combine that with a woeful lineup, and the losses are going to pile up. Samardzija ranks 8th in the majors in strikeouts, punching out 84 in 72 innings, walking only 11 batters all year. When batters are making contact against him, though, lots of balls are finding holes or clearing the fence -- he's carrying a very high .340 BABIP and a 16.1% HR/FB rate. That's a big reason why FIP (3.15) and xFIP (2.84) say he's been getting a bit of a raw deal this year.

Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Matt Cain vs. Chase Anderson

Cain has always struggled against the Brewers, with a 5.01 ERA in 13 career starts. Now he's struggling against the rest of the league, too. His 4.53 ERA (4.30 FIP) would actually be his lowest since 2014 if his season ended today, and he's no longer fooling anyone. He's on the verge of a third straight season of 10+ H/9, and his K/9 has dropped all the way down to 5.9 so far this season, all while making $21 million. He's frankly a shell of the guy he used to be, and he's been that shell for a few years now.

Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Ty Blach vs. Jimmy Nelson

Meet the one Giants starter with an ERA under 4 (not counting Madison Bumgarner, who's only made 4 starts this year). Blach started the year as a reliever and is coming off a complete game shutout of the Phillies in his last start, scattering 7 hits over 9 innings and striking out 4 with no walks. He's barely striking anyone out -- he has a 3.5 K/9 and a 9.9% K% -- but is still getting successful results thanks to a .250 BABIP and getting half of the batters he's faced to hit the ball on the ground.

Thursday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, MLB Network (out-of-market only) - Johnny Cueto vs. Matt Garza

With Bumgarner out, the Giants have needed Cueto to step up and be the second ace they envisioned when they signed him. Unfortunately, he's had a pretty average first dozen starts a year after he finished 6th in the Cy Young voting. He's currently sporting a 77/18 K/BB ratio, but a 4.38 ERA (3.82 FIP). Like others on the Giants staff, he's been hurt by a high BABIP (.305), allowing more hits so far this year than is typical for him. Cueto is also dealing with spikes in his flyball rates, with 60% of balls put into play against him being classified as line drives or fly balls and his HR/FB rate nearly doubling over last year, from 8.4% to 16.4%. He's also spoken out recently about the all-business, uptight nature of the Giants' locker room, leading to some speculation that he'll opt out of the 4 years and $84 million still left on his contract.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs