It’s April, and the Milwaukee Brewers are playing the Cincinnati Reds.
You know what that means.
4/17/2018: Eric Thames hits 2-run homer as Brewers beat Reds 2-0.— MLB (@MLB) April 18, 2018
4/18/2018: Eric Thames hits 2-run homer as Brewers beat Reds 2-0.
Time is a flat circle. pic.twitter.com/2apizM15Z5
Another home run in April.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) April 18, 2018
Another home run against the @Reds. pic.twitter.com/pzXLmwog6f
These aren’t the Reds the Brewers have made a habit of beating up on in recent years, though. They’ve added Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to a lineup that already gave the Brewers headaches with Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scooter Gennett while adding Sonny Gray and Alex Wood to their rotation.
The Brewers will miss both Gennett and Wood in this series -- Gennett suffered a groin strain at the end of spring training that could keep him out for up to 8 to 12 weeks, while Wood could be out for a month with back stiffness.
Even without those two, there’s plenty of firepower to make the Reds annoyingly competent this year. There won’t be any easy games in the NL Central this year.
Monday, April 1st - 5:40 p.m. CDT
Zach Davies vs. Tanner Roark
This is Roark’s first start with the Reds after being traded from the Washington Nationals. The soft-throwing sinkerballer has held the Brewers to a 2.68 ERA in 8 career meetings, including 8 shutout innings with 11 strikeouts on 3 hits last July, before giving up 4 runs in 6 innings in a second meeting at the end of August.
Tuesday, April 2nd - 5:40 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Anthony DeSclafani
A once-promising prospect, DeSclafani has only been able to make 21 appearances since the end of 2016 due to injury.
Wednesday, April 3rd - 11:35 a.m. CDT
Freddy Peralta vs. Tyler Mahle
Mahle had a 4.98 ERA/5.25 FIP in his first extended big league action last year, making 23 starts. He would have started the year in Triple-A if Alex Wood wasn’t on the injured list.
September 17-19, 2018
The Reds dealt the Brewers one of their final losses of the 2018 regular season on September 18th -- there would only be one more after that -- but bookending that game, the Brewers shut the Reds out twice. Wade Miley threw five scoreless innings, Josh Hader threw one, and Brandon Woodruff threw three scoreless innings for the save in an 8-0 opener, while Gio Gonzalez, Corey Knebel, Junior Guerra and Freddy Peralta teamed up for the shutout in the series finale. Gonzalez held the Reds to 2 hits in 6 of those innings, while the latter three kept Cincinnati hitless.
Player to Watch
Eric Thames had 5 hits against the Cincinnati Reds last year, and 4 of them were home runs. That’s some impressive efficiency, even if it didn’t quite match his Yelich-esque .351/.493/.895 line with 10 home runs in 17 games against Cincinnati in 2017. In all, 14 of the 47 home runs he’s hit since his return to the majors -- almost 30% -- have come against Cincinnati. Ten of those 14 have come in the month of April. Without a left-hander scheduled to start this series, we’ll likely see at least one start from Thames.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference