The Brewers fared well in the first leg of their measuring stick road trip out west, taking three of four from the Colorado Rockies, with the only loss coming on a night they had to make a spot start due to the illness of Chase Anderson.
They now head to Arizona to face the NL-West leading Diamondbacks, who are in the middle of a challenging stretch of their own. In their past 16 games, they’ve had to face the Dodgers and Nationals twice with a three-game series against the Astros thrown in for good measure. They’ve gone 7-9 in that stretch, but it only looks that bad after getting swept by the Nationals in a four-game series the second time around, and they’re now on a 5-game losing streak. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for them in the next couple weeks, with their two series against the Brewers sandwiched around a trip to New York to face the Mets.
Expected to be a strong offensive team, the losing streak is the result of the bats going cold. They scored a total of 7 runs in 4 days against the Nationals, which can tend to happen against that pitching staff, and 4 of those runs came yesterday. Arizona’s dead last in the majors in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, and 23rd in slugging percentage. It’s fair to wonder how much of that is on the players themselves, and how much the new humidor at Chase Field is affecting the offense there. The fact that the Diamondbacks’ pitching has been excellent -- 2nd in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 3rd in batting average against -- might point towards the humidor theory having some merit.
MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt is off to a very cold start at the plate (.210/.339/.378 with just 4 home runs), but A.J. Pollock (.301/.358/.637 with 11 home runs) and David Peralta (.296/.381/.519 with 7 home runs) have been very good, making them virtually the only two hitters making a difference for the D’backs.
Monday - 8:40 p.m. CDT
Junior Guerra vs. Patrick Corbin
Tuesday - 8:40 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Zack Greinke
Wednesday - 2:40 p.m. CDT
Brandon Woodruff vs. Matt Koch
Corbin has been one of the biggest bounceback stories in baseball to this point in the season and a big reason why Arizona comes into the series at 24-16. After a pretty average 2017 season in which he put up a 4.03 ERA in 189.2 innings, Corbin’s strikeout rate has exploded from 8.4 K/9 to 11.8, he’s cut his walks from 2.9 BB/9 to 2.3, and he’s allowing a league-low 5.1 hits per 9 innings. That’s led to a shining 2.12 ERA in 51 innings thus far, and while the numbers would seem to indicate that’s fairly lucky -- his FIP is 2.93 and his BABIP is .217 -- he’s still be legitimately good in a contract year.
Old Friend Zack Greinke is still going pretty strong at age 34. Despite a spring training that had some concerned about his velocity, he’s still been largely good this year outside of a couple of outings where he’s been touched up for 5 runs. His past few starts have been very good, though, allowing just 4 runs in his past 18.2 innings, including him striking out 10 Dodgers on April 30th and putting up 7 innings of 1-run ball in his last start against the Nationals in what would be a 2-1 Arizona loss.
Koch’s last three starts have come against Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but he’s tried to make the best of it. He’ll carry a 2.43 ERA into this series, although the underlying numbers say that should be a good amount higher -- his FIP is 4.89 -- due to the facing he’s only struck out 20 and walked 8 while giving up 25 hits in 33.1 innings. He doesn’t throw very hard -- he’s averaging just under 92 mph on his fastball -- but he’s been able to induce some weak contact and has scattered the hits he has allowed.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs