After a wildly successful road trip, the Brewers return home this weekend to face another team having a disappointing season.
The Washington Nationals are just a couple seasons removed from a surprising World Series title, but things have fallen apart quickly — culminating in the team dumping Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline. What’s left behind is mostly Juan Soto and a collection of scrubs. They’re now just two games ahead of the Miami Marlins for last place in the NL East.
The Brewers swept the Nats in their last meeting, including a pair of 7-inning games in a doubleheader on Memorial Day weekend.
The frustrating thing for Washington is, at least before the trades that sent away Turner and Kyle Schwarber, they were a pretty solid offense. The team still ranks 4th in the majors in hitting, and 5th in on-base percentage — but most of the guys responsible for those numbers are now gone.
Turner, for example, was hitting .322/.369/.521 at a premium position when he was dealt away. Schwarber was leading the team in home runs with 25 when he was dealt to Boston. Josh Harrison (.294/.366/.434) and Yan Gomes (.271/.323/.454) were sent to Oakland.
All of that leaves Soto as a young superstar stuck on a terrible team. An annual MVP candidate, Soto has been legitimately great again this year, coming into the weekend hitting .304/.443/.517. He has an incredible eye at the plate for a guy who’s only 22 years old, and will wait you out until you give him a pitch he can punish, as he’s racked up 36 extra-base hits this year (20 home runs, 15 doubles, 1 triple in 109 games).
The 20 home runs ties Soto with familiar foe Josh Bell, who survived the deadline purge. He’s hitting .241/.304/.459 coming into the weekend and is likely the second-biggest threat in the lineup after all of those trades, although he’s a much better fit as the 5th-best guy in a lineup than the 2nd-best guy — as we saw when he was in Pittsburgh.
The Probable Pitchers
The Nationals’ pitching situation is also in flux, as they have yet to announce probable starters for this weekend’s series. Things got even cloudier for them earlier this week, when Joe Ross went down with a partially-torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Patrick Corbin seems to be in line for a start, but he’s been terrible for much of the season and is coming off a 6-run outing against Atlanta in his last start. The Brewers just missed seeing top prospect Josiah Gray, the centerpiece of the return for Scherzer and Turner, as he pitched against Toronto on Wednesday.
Friday, 7:10 p.m. CDT - TBD vs. Brett Anderson
Saturday, 3:05 p.m. CDT - TBD vs. Eric Lauer
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT - TBD vs. Adrian Houser
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference