After splitting two games with the Detroit Tigers earlier this week, the Brewers continue their stretch of under-.500 opponents — and start another long stretch without a day off — with a four-game set this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona comes into this series at 20-37, largely serving as the punching bag for much of this season for the Dodgers, Padres and Giants and spending much of May on a massive 13-game losing streak. They finally snapped out of that funk with a win over the Cardinals on Sunday before dropping 2 of 3 to the Mets to start this week.
This is truly a bad team that will likely be looking to see which parts they can trade in the next month. Their offensive numbers are still middle of the road, thanks mostly to the favorable hitting conditions in the desert, but the pitching ranks in the bottom three in almost every category. This is, once again, an opportunity for the Brewers to start climbing out of the offensive hole they’ve dug over the first couple months of the season.
While Arizona’s team numbers rank around the middle of the league, it’s worth noting some big names have missed a good chunk of time so far and are just now getting back to the lineup.
Like Christian Yelich, Ketel Marte missed much of the first month of the season, recently returning to the Arizona lineup. He’s hit for more power than Yelich to this point, though, putting together a .347/.390/.587 line in his 20 games played, hitting 4 home runs and 6 doubles. He’ll still be one of the bigger threats in the Arizona lineup for whoever ends up taking the mound for the Brewers this weekend, along with Carson Kelly, the catcher who was the main prize the Diamondbacks got in return for shipping Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis. Kelly is hitting .287/.426/.491 with 6 home runs and 4 doubles in 37 games.
Veteran Josh Reddick is also back in the lineup after a late start to the year, hitting .362 with a .511 slugging percentage in his first 13 games. Eduardo Escobar is another veteran who’s played a significant role for the desert dwellers, too, leading the team with 13 home runs and 39 runs driven in despite hitting just .239 with an atrocious .283 OBP.
The Probable Pitchers
We know Brett Anderson is starting for the Brewers tonight, taking the place of Adrian Houser, who was scheduled to pitch but had to jump in and throw 5 innings of relief of Eric Lauer on Tuesday night. After that, it may be a piecemeal pitching weekend — the Brewers still have TBD listed for their Friday, Saturday and Sunday starters.
Right-hander Jon Duplantier will make the first start of the series for Arizona. It’ll be his second appearance of the year after giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings against the Cardinals last week. The former 3rd-round pick didn’t pitch last year, but was a Top 100 prospect by most prospect prognisticators heading into the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He hasn’t had the chance to pitch much this year with the delayed start to the minor league season, only making 2 starts for Triple-A Reno before getting called up last week. He gave up 6 runs over 7 innings in those two starts, struggling with walks in those outings.
Matt Peacock is scheduled to start Friday night for the Diamondbacks. The 27-year-old righty has thrown his 93 mph fastball about 68% of time this year, despite not missing many bats with that or the slider he’s using 21% of the time. While the strikeout rates aren’t impressive, he’s only walked 3 people total in 11 starts this year. While he’s carrying a 4.50 ERA on the year, he’s fared much better on the road — and outside the bandbox at Chase Field — with a 0.79 ERA there.
Merrill Kelly is the last starter the Diamondbacks have listed for this weekend’s series, as he’s expected to start Saturday afternoon. Like many Arizona pitchers this year, he hasn’t been great, but unlike the others he’s at least managed to work deep-ish into games. He’s carrying a 5.04 ERA after giving up 5 runs while working into the 7th inning against the Mets on Monday night. He’s another righty that doesn’t throw hard — averaging just 91 mph on his fastball — and ranks in the bottom third of the league in strikeouts.
To give you an idea of just how bad Arizona’s pitching has been, Kelly’s 5.04 ERA is actually the lowest on the team among qualified starters.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Statcast