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Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals @ Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers try to continue their recent run of success against the Redbirds

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After a late-night flight back home, your Milwaukee Brewers would probably have a good excuse to come out sleepy-eyed and sluggish to start their next homestand. Unfortunately, there won’t be much time to waste with the St. Louis Cardinals coming back into town.

While the Redbirds have been sluggish themselves lately -- losing their past three series, including a home series against the San Diego Padres -- they’re still just 4.5 games behind the Brewers and Cubs in the NL Central race, and as we know from experience, it’s best to try to bury the Cardinals as soon as possible before they make their inevitable late-season run.

We last saw the Cardinals at the end of May, when the Brewers took 2 of 3. The Brewers have only lost a total of two (2!!) series to the Cardinals dating back to the start of last season, which feels pretty surreal given how much they’ve tormented Milwaukee over the years.

Probable Pitchers

Thursday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Carlos Martinez vs. Brent Suter

Friday - 7:10 p.m. CDT
Jack Flaherty vs. Junior Guerra

Saturday - 3:10 p.m. CDT
Miles Mikolas vs. Chase Anderson

Sunday - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Luke Weaver vs. Jhoulys Chacin

The rainout in Pittsburgh moved everyone in the Brewers’ rotation back a day, shuffling the matchups for the weekend a bit and bumping Freddy Peralta from Sunday’s series finale.

Martinez comes into this series with a 2.73 ERA, but it’s been almost entirely luck as of late. He’s walked 40 batters in 62.2 innings and has hit a league-leading 10 batters so far this year. All of the extra baserunners have led to plenty of short outings and a FIP of 3.92 -- more than a run higher than his ERA. He’s walked at least 5 batters in each of his past three starts, including 7 two starts ago against Cincinnati. Despite that, he’s managed to avoid total disaster in those outings. While the Reds touched him up for 5 runs in 3.2 innings, he only allowed 2 runs in 4 innings despite 5 walks against the Marlins and only 3 runs in 5 innings despite 6 walks and 7 hits against the Cubs.

Flaherty has now become a regular part of the Cardinals’ rotation after the team insisted on shuttling him back and forth from Memphis for some reason during the early parts of the season. You may remember he struck out 9 batters in his season debut against the Brewers on April 3rd, before getting sent back down in favor of Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals eventually came to their senses and he’s been mostly excellent the rest of the way. He’s allowed a single run in 5 of his 9 starts, and that doesn’t include the 5 shutout innings he’s coming off of against the Cubs on Sunday.

Mikolas has put up a nice 2.69 ERA in 14 starts so far this year and has done it by barely allowing any baserunners -- his 1.0 BB/9 is the lowest in the National League, having walked just 10 batters in 90.1 innings. But despite his home run against the Brewers, they’ve been one of the rare teams to hit him pretty well this year. 8 of his 27 earned runs on the year have come against the Brewers, giving up 4 in each of his first two starts. The fact he doesn’t walk anyone may actually help the Brewers and some of the free-swingers in their lineup, since they know strikes are coming.

Weaver, on the other hand, had three good starts to begin the season and has struggled for much of the year since. He’s given up 4 earned runs in each of his last 3 starts, and like Martinez, has fallen victim to the walks bug. He gave out 4 free passes in his last start in Philadelphia and walked 5 on June 8th against the Reds, but the Cardinals managed to win both of those games in 7-6 slugfests. The Cardinals have been pretty conservative with how they’ve managed him so far this year, seldom letting him throw much more than 90 pitches. Mike Matheny took him out after 76 pitches in his one start against the Brewers this year, after he gave up 4 runs (only 2 earned) in 4 innings on May 28th.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference