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Series Preview: Miami Marlins @ Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers host the young and interesting Marlins for three games before their big weekend showdown against LA

MLB: Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After another wildly successful road trip, the Brewers are headed back home for another homestand, and it’s one that might offer some Trap Series potential given who is coming to Milwaukee later this week.

But before what should be a fun showdown with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Brewers will hope to take care of business against the Miami Marlins.

After a surprising run to the postseason in 2020, the Marlins have started this year’s campaign by being just about average across the board. They come into this week at 9-12 and 4-5 in their last 9 games, having just dropped 3 of 4 to the Giants in San Francisco in what was a closely-played series. As a team, Fangraphs has them ranked tied for 15th in offensive WAR (at 2.3, along with San Diego, St. Louis, and Seattle; the Brewers rank 13th with 2.6 WAR) and tied for 15th in pitching WAR (at 1.5, with St. Louis; the Brewers rank 5th with 3.2 WAR).

It’s a team that may not get much national attention, even after they swept the Cubs out of the playoffs last season, but it’s one that has more than a couple familiar faces on it.

The Lineup

Miami’s typical lineup features a handful of infamous Brewer Killers — former Pirate Corey Dickerson is hitting .304 with a .351 OBP in 21 games so far, but hasn’t shown much pop; former Red Adam Duvall is tied for the team in home runs with 4; and former Pirate Starling Marte is playing like a star again with a .316/.420/.491 line in 15 games, collecting 2 home runs, 2 doubles, a triple and 3 stolen bases in that time.

Then there’s old friend Jesus Aguilar, who would look very good at first base for the Brewers right now if a change of scenery wasn’t necessary for him a couple years ago. He’s settled in with the Marlins very well, and comes into this week hitting .284/.375/.478 while leading Miami with 17 runs driven in, and hitting 3 home runs in as many days after apparently ditching eating arugula. He’s an inspiration to us all.

But the breakout star so far this season may be prospect Jazz Chisholm. The 23-year-old has appeared in 19 games so far and is hitting .270/.365/.540, good for a 148 OPS+ as he co-leads the team in homers with Duvall while also adding 3 doubles and 4 stolen bases. He’s an exciting player to watch when he’s not facing your team.

The Probable Pitchers

There’s probably going to be plenty of strikeouts on both sides Monday night, as Corbin Burnes takes his 40 strikeouts and 0 walks up against Miami lefty Trevor Rogers, who’s carrying a 12.7 K/9 rate and a 1.64 ERA after his first 4 starts this season. Rogers carries an electric fastball that averages 95 mph and is currently in the top 5% in the league in whiff rate, while not allowing opponents to square up in the rare cases they do make contact. He’s thrown his fastball about 62% of the time this year, also mixing in a slider and a changeup.

After going all season without facing a left-handed starting pitcher, the Brewers will see two in back-to-back days, with Daniel Castano taking the ball in game two this week against Adrian Houser. Wedged between two hard throwers in the Marlins rotation, Castano is more of your throwback soft-tossing lefty, largely working with a 90 mph fastball and an 80 mph slider, with an 82 mph changeup he’s only thrown 13% of the time this year. Statcast actually compares him to Brett Anderson, if that gives you a better idea of his profile. He’s made two starts so far this year, allowing a total of 4 runs in 10 innings, 3 of which came in his most recent start against San Francisco.

Sandy Alcantara will start the series finale Wednesday afternoon against a Brewers pitcher still to be determined. This would be Brett Anderson’s turn in the rotation, but with both he and Josh Lindblom on the injured list, the Brewers will have to figure out a Plan C for that start, and considering the four-game set with the Dodgers figures to be hell on the pitching staff as it is, a Johnny Wholestaff approach does not seem to be the way to go, but we’ll see what the team has planned.

In the meantime, the hard-throwing Alcantara could provide some problems for the Brewers. He largely leans on three pitch types, all of which he throws 90+ mph: a 97 mph fastball, a 91 mph changeup and a 90 mph slider. Statcast says he actually throws two types of fastball — a four-seamer and a sinker — and even the sinker is averaging 96.8 mph this year, although that’s where most of the hits against him this year have come. Like Rogers, he’s proven difficult to square up against this year, ranking in the 90th percentile among pitchers for barrel%, with a rate of just 1.3% this year.