All things considered, things could have gone a lot worse for the Brewers over the past 13 games. They emerged from an early-season Cardinals-Cubs-Cardinals-Mets gauntlet still even at .500 with an 8-8 record. After holding their own against some of the toughest competition they’ll see in the National League despite the injuries piling up, the Brewers now head into a nine-game stretch they hope can get them comfortably over .500.
It starts with three games against the Cincinnati Reds, who come to Milwaukee with a league-worst 2-13 record. Essentially the anti-Mets, nothing has gone right for the Reds so far this year. They’ll carry a -48 run differential and an 8-game losing streak into Milwaukee.
Old friend Scooter Gennett is leading the team in hits (19) and batting average (.306), but unfortunately for Cincinnati his .328 OBP is also the highest on the team, and he hasn’t found any of the home run magic from last year. Joey Votto is looking like he’s 34 years old through the first couple weeks, with no extra base hits in his first 14 games and hitting .236/.283/.236.
Eugenio Suarez, one of last year’s offensive leaders and a blooming Brewer Killer, is on the disabled list with a fractured thumb. Despite the injury, the Reds are delaying the call-up of top prospect Nick Senzel, who would likely be the best hitter on the team upon his debut. Outfielder Scott Schebler is also on the disabled list with an elbow injury and rookie outfielder Jesse Winker is dealing with shoulder soreness.
It’d be easy to take the Reds lightly, but it’s worth remembering that they did sweep the Brewers in early September last year and the Brewers missed the playoffs by one game.
Monday - 6:40 p.m. CDT
Luis Castillo vs. Brent Suter
Tuesday - 6:40 p.m. CDT
Sal Romano vs. Junior Guerra
Wednesday - 12:40 p.m. CDT
Tyler Mahle vs. Zach Davies
The Reds have also had trouble getting solid starts, and combined with the anemic offense, Cincinnati has found themselves down early and often.
With that said, the three starters the Brewers will be facing are young and have potential. Castillo especially could be a future frontline starter, even if he’s given up 13 runs in his first 16 innings this year. As a rookie last season, Castillo made 15 starts and put up a 3.12 ERA while striking out 98 in 89.1 innings. This year, he’s been hurt by an abnormally high HR/FB rate that’s probably due for a regression at some point, but Miller Park may not be the place.
The 24-year-old Romano also made his debut last year and was mostly average with a 4.24 FIP in 16 starts. He’s struggled with control this year, though, walking 9 batters and surrendering 3 home runs in his first 15.1 innings. He made his Major League debut against the Brewers last season and was chased after 3 innings when he walked 4 and gave up back-to-back home runs to Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw. He gave up 7 runs (6 earned) over 5 innings in his next start against the Brewers, but did fare better in his third and final go-around, limiting the Brewers to 4 runs (3 earned) in 5.2 innings and striking out 7.
Mahle had a sparkling season debut this year, when the Top-100 prospect shut out the Cubs over 6 innings, allowing just a single hit and striking out 7, accounting for one of his team’s two wins. Things have not gone well for him since, though, getting roughed up for back-to-back 9-hit, 5-earned run outings. In both cases, he fell apart the third time through the order, allowing 4 runs in the 5th inning against the Pirates and 4 runs in the 6th inning against the Cardinals after cruising through with only 1 run allowed before those innings. It’ll be interesting to see if the Reds have a quicker hook with him this time around, or if they let the young pitcher figure out how to work through jams on his own.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference