The Brewers rebounded nicely from their first series loss in more than three weeks last weekend, taking 2 of 3 from the Cincinnati Reds in a largely stress-free series. Next, the Brewers get a chance for some revenge against the Pittsburgh Pirates -- and, with some help, they can even possibly clinch a playoff spot.
The Magic Number for guaranteeing a playoff spot is down to 6, meaning if the Brewers can somehow sweep the Pirates in a stadium that’s once again become a House of Horrors and the Rockies get swept themselves, the Brewers could finish no worse than in the second wildcard spot. It’s a stretch, sure, but even just a series win — regardless of what the Rockies do — would give the Brewers a decent chance at clinching a playoff spot (and the top wildcard spot) in St. Louis next week.
The Pirates are now on a bit of a hot streak, though, winners of 5 straight after taking the final two games from the Brewers last weekend and sweeping the Royals during the week. That has their record up to 77-74 as they try to at least play for a winning season in what’s been a largely disappointing second half.
This will be the Brewers’ final trip to PNC Park this year — thank Jesús — and their first time back since The Series That Shall Not Be Mentioned. At the very least, the good news is that the Brewers will be done with the Pirates after this weekend, even if the best they can hope for is an 8-11 record against them this season.
Friday - 6:05 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Ivan Nova
Saturday - 6:05 p.m. CDT
Zach Davies vs. Trevor Williams
Sunday - 12:35 p.m. CDT
Wade Miley vs. Joe Musgrove
Nova cruised through the Brewers’ lineup last Saturday night, throwing just 76 pitches in 6 innings, with the only run allowed coming on a first inning solo home run by Christian Yelich. From there, he threw 5 scoreless innings, starting the stretch of 16 straight scoreless by Pirates pitching last weekend. That outing puts Nova’s second-half ERA at 3.42, but he’s been even better at PNC Park this season. Taking full advantage of the huge outfield in Pittsburgh, Nova has held opponents to a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts at home, allowing just 8 home runs in 77 innings there (as opposed to 17 in 75.2 innings on the road).
Williams contributed the second half of that scoreless inning streak that helped the Pirates to a series win last weekend, throwing 6 shutout innings and allowing just 2 hits. As we mentioned a week ago, Williams has been one of the best run-prevention pitchers in the business in the second half of the season, putting up a 1.19 ERA in his last 10 starts following last Sunday’s outing. In that time, he’s held opponents to a .204/.259/.285 line despite stuff that isn’t overpowering. After Sunday’s game, Craig Counsell said Williams hides the ball well, making his low-90’s stuff more deceptive than it otherwise would be.
Musgrove was largely used as a swingman during his first two years in the majors with Houston, and now that he’s a full-time starter, it looks like he may be wearing down toward the end of the season. After making only 15 starts in 38 games last year, Musgrove will be making his 20th start of the year on Sunday. He’s given up at least 4 runs in 4 of his last 5 starts, with his only good start in that stretch coming against Cincinnati. He’s coming off a start in which he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits over 6 innings against the lowly Kansas City Royals. The Brewers started that rough stretch by chasing him after 4 innings back on August 24th, tagging him for 4 runs on 6 hits, including 2 home runs.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference