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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Miami Marlins

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The Brewers have crawled back into the race by beating contenders. Now it’s time to beat the teams they should beat.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 Milwaukee Brewers have shown they’re capable of hanging with the best of the best, as we’ve seen the past couple of weekends while they’ve taken two series from the Chicago Cubs to move back within 2 games of the National League’s second wildcard spot.

They’ve also done well against their fellow playoff contenders, going 5-2 against Arizona, 3-3 against Atlanta, 5-1 against the Mets, 4-3 against the Phillies, and 4-2 against the Nationals.

Unfortunately, like a lot of teams that have hovered around .500, as much as they play “up” against contenders, they’ve also played “down” to the level of a few bottom-feeders.

That includes the Miami Marlins, who took 2 out of 3 from the Brewers earlier this year. At Miller Park. While outscoring them 25-8.

That series in early June proved to be the start of a month-long rough patch in the middle of the season, with a 16-0 loss in the opener still doing damage to the team’s season run differential to this day.

The Marlins have gone on to be the first National League team to lose 90+ games, entering the week at 51-91. They have baseball’s third-worst winning percentage to go with the league’s third-worst run differential at -173.

Even contending teams are capable of dropping mid-June series to teams they shouldn’t, but it goes without saying that it just can’t happen this week. The Brewers have done the work they’ve needed to do against contenders. Now, with 17 of their last 20 games against teams with losing records, it’s time to take care of the teams they should.

Probable Pitchers

Monday, September 9th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Jordan Lyles vs. Robert Dugger

Dugger will be making his 4th career start after getting a brief cup of coffee as part of a doubleheader on August 5th before returning to the rotation on August 29th. He’s pitched well outside of that first start (6 ER in 5 IP), holding the Reds to 2 runs over 7 innings in his second start, and 3 runs (2 earned) in 6 innings against the Pirates. He’s struck out 12 and walked 7 in his first 18 innings.

Tuesday, September 10th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Chase Anderson vs. Elieser Hernandez

The 24-year-old Venezuelan is in his second year as a swingman for the Marlins, pitching in 19 games this year, 13 of which have been starts. He’s been hit to the tune of a 5.23 ERA over 72.1 innings, which is actually lower than his 5.90 FIP. He’s allowed 18 home runs this year, striking out 71 batters but walking 25.

Wednesday, September 11th - 6:10 p.m. CDT
Zach Davies vs. Pablo Lopez

Another young Venezuelan right-hander, Lopez has actually been a solid pitcher for the Marlins -- more than his 4.75 ERA would indicate. He carries a sub-4 FIP (3.99) and has struck out 83 batters in 91 innings while walking just 19, for a 1.9 BB/9. He shut out the Brewers over 6 innings during that 16-0 nightmare on June 4th.

Thursday, September 12th - 12:10 p.m. CDT
Gio Gonzalez vs. Caleb Smith

Smith looked well on his way to an All-Star appearance when the Brewers faced him on June 6th (he had an ERA of 3.10 at the time through 11 starts, with 80 strikeouts in 61 innings), but the home run ball has killed him all year. Including the 3 the Brewers hit against him in a winning effort that day, Smith has allowed 28 home runs in 24 starts, averaging almost 2 per 9 innings pitched. He shut out the Royals over 6 innings in his most recent start, but allowed 7 runs (6 earned) on 7 hits and 3 home runs over 5.1 innings against the Nationals in the start before that.

Player to Watch

As Lewis Brinson continues to struggle at the major league level (hitting just .181/.239/.242 this year, and .170/.233/.226 in the 31 games since returning to the majors in early August), another piece of the Christian Yelich deal — Isan Diaz — is now also playing every day in the majors.

Diaz got his big league career off to a good start, hitting his first career home run off of reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom in his first big league game. The Marlins was interviewing his family at the time, and the reaction was priceless.

Since then, he too has struggled to consistently hit major league pitching, putting up a .152/.262/.229 line in his first 122 plate appearances. The 23-year-old infielder was one of the best hitters in the extremely-hitting-friendly PCL this year prior to getting called up, hitting .305/.395/.578 with 26 home runs and 21 doubles in 102 games.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference