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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Cincinnati Reds

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MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Going .500 or better every month is a good way to make sure you stay in playoff contention the entire season. The Brewers managed to secure their third straight .500-or-better month this year (four if you want to count the 3-1 mark in March as a separate month) by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, and also moved into first place with the win.

Now they face a seven-game road trip to close out their pre-All-Star break schedule, the final half of a 13-games-in-13-days stretch that starts tonight in Cincinnati.

It’s the second time facing the Reds in about a week and a half, and as we saw at Miller Park, this is not a pushover 5th-place team. The Brewers start the day tied for first thanks to the Reds, who are coming off taking 2 of 3 from the Chicago Cubs over the weekend. They’re still under .500 at 38-43, but are only 5.5 games out of first place with a chance this week to get even closer in the division race.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, July 1st - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Adrian Houser vs. Tyler Mahle

Mahle is the Reds starter the Brewers have missed every time until now. He comes into this series with a 4.35 ERA in 15 starts, and has cut down on the walks that hurt him so much last year while also upping his strikeouts to 9.1 per 9 innings. He made two starts against the Brewers last year, holding them to just 3 earned runs in 10.2 innings, despite allowing 13 hits and 7 walks against the Crew.

Tuesday, July 2nd - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Chase Anderson vs. Tanner Roark

This will be the third time the Brewers see Roark this year, and he’s allowed 4 runs in 10.1 innings over the first two starts, with much of that success coming in his last outing against them on June 20th, when he held the Brewers to 1 run on 3 hits over 6 innings.

Wednesday, July 3rd - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. Sonny Gray

After shutting out the Brewers over 6 innings on May 21st, he didn’t have as much success the second time around, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in just 4.1 innings on June 21st. He rebounded to hold the Cubs to just 2 runs over 6.1 innings in his most recent start, getting his ERA for the year back under 4 at 3.94.

Thursday, July 4th - 1:10 p.m. CDT
Brandon Woodruff vs. Luis Castillo

A first-time All-Star, Castillo has allowed just 27 earned runs in 98.1 innings this year, and 1/3 of those have come in 3 outings against the Brewers. If you take out the 9 earned runs in 13.1 innings Castillo has allowed against the Brewers, his ERA would be just 1.90.

Previous Series

The Brewers’ most recent homestand got off to a rough start, with the Reds taking the first two games of the four-game set, but the Brewers were able to win the final two games to escape with a split.

Player to Watch

Old Friend Scooter Gennett has finally made it back after missing the first two months of the season with a groin injury.

In his first two games back, he’s gone 1-for-8 with a strikeout, following a short rehab stint where he went a combined 4-for-26 between Triple-A and High-A for a .154/.185/.231 line. While we all have memories of Scoot burning his old team, the Brewers actually did a good job of holding him at bay last year, limiting him to a .224/.292/.362 line in 18 games last year, with 12 strikeouts in 58 at-bats.

It seems pretty clear that he’s still trying to shake some rust off, but those first two games back also came against left-handed starters in Cole Hamels and Jon Lester. Facing four righties in a row could possibly bring Gennett’s bat back to life.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference