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Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies @ Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers start the second half against baseball’s worst team from the first half

MLB: All-Star Game Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In case you forgot, the Milwaukee Brewers enter the second half with a 5.5-game lead in the NL Central. In their first series back from the All-Star break, they'll be facing the worst team in the majors.

The Philadelphia Phillies enter this series at 29-58, 3.5 games ahead of the Giants in the race for the first pick in next year's draft. They have a run differential of -92 and haven't won a three-game series since June 2nd-4th, when they took 2 of 3 from the Giants. Before that, their last three-game series win was a sweep of the Braves in late April.

Philadelphia ranks 29th in runs scored, 27th in OPS, and 21st in team ERA. They are not a good baseball team, and they'll likely get worse by the end of the month as the trade deadline approaches.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Nick Pivetta vs. Zach Davies

A 24-year-old Canadian, Pivetta was a 4th round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2013 before getting traded to Philadelphia in 2015 for Jonathan Papelbon and cash. He finally made his major league debut this year, and in 11 starts he's put up a 4.73 ERA/5.21 FIP. He's struck out 62 batters in 59 innings, but he's also walked 28, thrown 4 wild pitches, and given up 12 home runs. He's been a bit better as of late, putting up a 3.94 ERA in his past 5 outings, with most of those runs coming in one start, giving up 6 in just 2.2 innings in Arizona on June 26th. In his last start before the break, Pivetta struck out 9 and didn't walk anyone in 7 innings against the Padres, giving up only 3 runs -- but they all came on solo home runs.

Saturday, 6:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Aaron Nola vs. Jimmy Nelson

This is the game most likely to turn into a pitching duel this series. Nola is the closest thing the Phillies have to an ace this year, compiling a 3.59 ERA/3.40 FIP in the first half with a 3.24 K/BB rate and 81 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. He went into the break on a hot streak, too, allowing just 5 total runs over his last 4 starts covering 29.1 innings. That includes an 8 inning, 2 run, 9 strikeout outing against the Padres in his last start before the break in which he still ended up with a loss.

Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT, FS Wisconsin - Jeremy Hellickson vs. Matt Garza

Hellickson has failed to live up to his production from last season, when he put up a 3.71 ERA and caused the Phillies to give him a qualifying offer heading into the offseason. Hellickson ended up accepting increasing his salary from $7 million to more than $17 million. For that price, the Phillies have gotten a 4.49 ERA/5.62 FIP this year. Hellickson has already allowed 100 hits in 102.1 innings, has only struck out 53, and has a groundball rate of just 35.5%. That's a bad combination for a guy who plays in a cozy park like Philadelphia's, let alone one who will be playing at Miller Park on a July afternoon.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs