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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Brewers are on their longest winning streak since 2018 and will hope to keep it going in a stadium that has been a house of horrors

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers are on their biggest hot streak since 2018, the year they were one win away from the World Series. They’ll look to keep it going against the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates as the calendar turns to July.

The last time we saw the Pirates, the Brewers helped contribute to a 10-game losing streak for the Bucs. They were able to get out of that funk for a little more than a week after that, including taking 3 of 4 from the St. Louis Cardinals last weekend, but they come into this series after falling victim to the Colorado Rockies At Coors Field, getting swept in three games, nearly getting no-hit on less than 100 pitches by German Marquez, and not scoring any runs for the first 18 innings of the series.

This is the first series of the year at PNC Park, though, and as we know, incredibly frustrating and bad things have tended to happen to the Brewers at that park through the years, no matter how well the Brewers are playing and how poorly the Pirates are playing. Even that magical 2018 team ended up getting swept in a 5-game slog (and monsoon) at PNC Park just before the All-Star break that year.

The Lineup

There’s a lot bad about the Pirates as they barely tried to field a major league team this season, but Bryan Reynolds is not one of them and should probably be the team’s All-Star representative in Denver later this month. He’s been excellent overall, hitting .316/.405/.542 with a team-leading 14 home runs and 20 doubles while driving in 45.

Adam Frazier has frequently been the one being driven in by Reynolds. He’s continued to be one of the league’s top hitters by average through the first half of the season, hitting .327/.395/.471 through the first half of the season. Like Reynolds, he’s exceled at finding the spacious gaps at PNC Park, racking up 24 doubles already this year while also adding 4 triples. He’s also been exceptionally annoying to deal with at the top of the lineup, only striking out 38 times in 306 at-bats while on pace for a 200-hit season.

The Probable Pitchers

Thursday, 6:05 p.m. CDT - Corbin Burnes vs. Wil Crowe

Burnes gets the start tonight after getting an extra day of rest while the Brewers continue to roll with a 6-man rotation. Crowe has struggled with the home runs this year, having surrendered 11 already in just 45.2 innings, leading to his ballooning 6.50 ERA. His June 13 start against the Brewers was his only start in the last month in which he didn’t allow a home run, though, limiting the Crew to just 2 runs over 5 innings while he struck out 8 and only walked 1 — his best start of the season. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings in his most recent start against the Cardinals.

Friday, 6:05 p.m. CDT - Adrian Houser vs. JT Brubaker

Brubaker has been the Pirates’ most consistent starter this year, coming into this outing with a 3.82 ERA/4.33 FIP and an ERA+ of 107. Those numbers would likely look much better if it not were for a blowup start against Atlanta in late May that’s still affecting his overall ERA, when he gave up 7 runs. He was excellent in his one start against the Brewers early this year, though, taking advantage of Milwaukee’s early-season offensive struggles in April when he limited them to just a single run on 4 hits over 6 innings, while striking out 8 with no walks. That last part has been a consistent theme all year — Brubaker currently ranks in the top 10% in the league in lowest walk rate.

Saturday, 3:05 p.m. CDT - Eric Lauer vs. TBD

Lauer will hope to keep his run of solid starts rolling after throwing 6 shutout, 2-hit innings against the Rockies in his last outing on June 27th. The Pirates have yet to announce who will take the mound for this game.

Sunday, 12:05 p.m. CDT - Freddy Peralta vs. Tyler Anderson

The left-handed Anderson has been a bit unlucky through his first 15 starts this year, getting charged with a 4.75 ERA despite a slightly-lower 4.53 FIP. Still, he’s given up 15 home runs in 85.1 innings so far, and is on pace to allow 30 home runs for the first time since he was pitching for the Rockies in 2018. He has turned into back-to-back solid starts, though, including holding his former team to just 2 runs over 5 innings in his last outing.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Baseball Savant