The old adage says you shouldn’t look at the standings until Memorial Day — so here we are. The Brewers are now just 2 games out of first place in the very-flawed NL Central after sweeping the Nationals in Washington and splitting a four-game series with the Padres last week.
Starting this week, the schedule starts to look quite a bit easier, starting with a two-game set that begins this afternoon with the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit comes into this week at 22-31 overall, in fourth place in a similarly flawed AL Central. But they’ve actually been a decent team the last month, rebounding from an 8-19 April to go 14-12 so far in May, while the Brewers have gone 12-15. The Tigers are also coming in on a bit of a hot streak, having just swept the New York Yankees and winning 4 of their last 5 games.
If you’re wondering where the Brewers would be without their outstanding starting pitching, the Tigers would be a good place to start looking. While offense is down for every team in baseball through the first two months, the Tigers are one of the few teams that have legitimately been about as bad as the Brewers with the bats. They’ve actually scored fewer runs than the Brewers — their 192 runs rank 27th in the majors, compared to the Brewers’ 200 runs that tie them for 24th. Their .224 team batting average is better than the Brewers’ .211, but their .296 team OBP and .356 team slugging percentage are pretty much right in line with the Brewers’ team totals.
Jeimer Candelario has been the closest thing to a consistent offensive performer for Detroit, hitting .281/.355/.406 this year, but he’s largely only had doubles power. Robbie Grossman leads the team in runs driven in and is tied with Wilson Ramos for the team lead in home runs with 6, but his .247/.371/.418 line outside of the very good OBP isn’t going to catch the eye, either.
Rookie Akil Baddoo broke onto the scene with a hot couple of weeks and is the only Tigers regular with an OPS above .800, but has since cooled off and comes into this week hitting .233/.325/.485 for the season.
Old friend Jonathan Schoop has also struggled through his first 50 games of the season, hitting just .237/.291/.349 with 5 home runs and 17 runs driven in, but 48 strikeouts in 186 at-bats.
The Probable Pitchers
Corbin Burnes will get his chance to match Brandon Woodruff’s incredible performance in Washington by getting the ball this afternoon. While Woodruff faced off with Max Scherzer, Burnes will be facing a bullpen game from the Tigers as former Marlin Jose Urena misses a start here due to injury. Lefty Tyler Alexander will be the first Tiger out of the bullpen today. Alexander has a 4.35 ERA with a 4.52 FIP through 13 appearances this year, with a slightly below-average 97 ERA+. He may be getting the start in an attempt to neutralize Kolten Wong and Christian Yelich in their first at-bats, as he’s held lefties to a .231/.250/.462 line this year — as opposed to .288/.333/.441 from righties.
As of Monday morning, both teams’ starters for Tuesday night’s game are still TBD.