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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Arizona Diamondbacks

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The Brewers’ trip out west wraps up with a series against the woeful Diamondbacks, who have lost 17 straight games

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There might not be a worse team in Major League Baseball than the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Even the Pittsburgh Pirates have something to look forward to with Ke’Bryan Hayes on the roster and a few pieces that could be flipped at the deadline. The Diamondbacks? They’re just painfully bad.

The Brewers finish out their road trip with a stop in Phoenix this week to face a team that has lost an inconceivable 17 straight games. Baseball is a weird game, but even the worst teams typically find a way to stumble into at least a few wins over a 17-game stretch. Not Arizona, apparently.

After setting a new Major League record for consecutive road losses at 23 — a mark the Brewers helped contribute to with a sweep of Arizona in Milwaukee earlier this month — the Diamondbacks still somehow don’t have the worst road record in the major league. That would be Colorado, who recently gave the Brewers some headaches at Coors Field, but are a different team at home. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are just as bad at home. They’ve gone just 11-22 at Chase Field, compared to 9-31 on the road. Their last win came on June 1st.

Still, we should probably mentally prepare ourselves for the Brewers losing at least one game to the Diamondbacks despite all of those losing streaks, because you figure it HAS to end at some point for them.

The Lineup

Catcher Carson Kelly has been one of the few bright spots for Arizona, hitting .260/.385/.460 with a 132 OPS+, but he landed on the Injured List with a fractured wrist after getting hit with a pitch on Saturday night. Wisconsin native Daulton Varsho was called up to replace him. Varsho was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 draft out of UW-Milwaukee and came into this year as a Top-100 prospect as ranked by Baseball America. He’s played in 20 games so far this year in a couple of big league stints, but hasn’t put it together yet, hitting .156/.208/.222 in 48 plate appearances. He’ll split time with Stephen Vogt going forward.

Kelly’s absense leaves the 35-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera as the team’s leader in WAR. Cabrera’s hit .245/.351/.415 in 48 games, collecting 10 doubles and 4 home runs in 174 plate appearances. He and 32-year-old Eduardo Escobar (.240/.288/.455 with 15 home runs and 10 doubles) are probably the most interesting bats the Diamondbacks could trade in the next month.

Ketel Marte probably isn’t going anywhere, though, as the Diamondbacks seem to think they can get back to being somewhat competitive next season. The 27-year-old star is on one of the most team-friendly deals in baseball — he’s under contract through 2024 without ever making more than $10 million per year, with the last two years being team options — and will likely be Arizona’s representative in the All-Star Game, hitting .357/.404/.543 in 34 games this year after missing a big chunk of the start of the season.

The Probable Pitchers

Monday, 8:40 p.m. CDT - Brett Anderson vs. Merrill Kelly

Kelly has frequently been the starter asked to go deeper into games, even if it means taking a few extra runs allowed on his ERA. That happened the last time the Brewers saw him earlier this month, as he worked 6 innings but allowed 5 runs (4 earned). He followed that up with a decent start against the Angels on June 11th in which he allowed 3 runs over 5 innings while striking out 6 in a no decision before lasting just 3 innings in his most recent start against San Francisco. The plug was pulled on him quick in that one after allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks as he struggled while his command.

Tuesday, 8:40 p.m. CDT - Freddy Peralta vs. Zac Gallen

Gallen is one of the more promising pitchers the Diamondbacks have, but his return from the Injured List in his last start was a struggle, and it helped clinch the consecutive road losses record. The 25-year-old righty gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and a walk in just 2.2 innings. He’s pitched sparingly this year as a result of two separate IL stints, only making three starts in April and two starts in May. This will be his second start of June. He’s largely been effective when healthy, though, with a K rate just outside the top 30% in baseball. He’ll use his 94 mph fastball about half the time, while sprinkling in an 87 mph changeup, 80 mph curve and 86 mph slider. This has the potential to be a very good pitching matchup.

Wednesday, 2:40 p.m. CDT - Brandon Woodruff vs. Caleb Smith

Woodruff will look to bounce back from a subpar Coors Field start in the series finale against Caleb Smith, who held the Brewers to a single run over 5 innings the last time we saw him. He’s been on a roll lately, coming off a very impressive start in which he allowed just 1 hit over 6 innings against the Dodgers. Despite not throwing very hard — he throws his 92 mph fastball less than half the time — Smith has been able to rack up solid strikeout rates, with 61 in 53.1 innings and a solid 1.26 WHIP. This will be his 6th start of the season after starting the year in Arizona’s bullpen.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Statcast