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Series Preview: Milwaukee @ Cleveland

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The Brewers hope to inch closer to clinching a division title this weekend

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With a 12-game lead in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers will hope to get closer to clinching a playoff spot this weekend against Cleveland.

They’ll be facing a team that’s had a bit of a tumultuous year, coming into the weekend with a .500 record at 69-69 after seeing manager Terry Francona step away from the team midseason to address a number of medical issues.

Overall, it’s a team that should have performed better than it did this year, but they were sunk by a bad month of July.

The Lineup

This is a batting order that is largely powered by two guys — Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes — with a bunch of average-ish guys behind them.

Ramirez is still quietly one of the best players in the American League and comes into the weekend hitting .260/.351/.548 with a team-leading 33 home runs and 87 driven in. Reyes isn’t far behind when it comes to bringing the pop, hitting .256/.332/.552 this year with 28 home runs so far.

Beyond those two, Amed Rosario has put together a solid offensive season at shortstop. He’s entering this series with a .285/.232/.413 line with 10 home runs, 22 doubles and 6 triples to go with 12 stolen bases.

This isn’t an incredibly deep lineup behind those names, though, as evidenced by the overall team numbers struggling to stay out of the bottom 10 in baseball. As a team, Cleveland ranks 19th in runs scored, 20th in batting, and 24th in on-base percentage. Considering they’re facing three of the best Brewers’ starters going right now, it could be difficult for them to put together much offense.

The Probable Pitchers

Friday, 6:10 p.m. CDT - Adrian Houser vs. Eli Morgan

Morgan is a 25-year-old rookie who will be making his 15th career start here. The 5’10” righty has had a rough go of it in his first 67.1 big-league innings, though, surrendering 15 home runs so far and coming into this outing with a 5.48 ERA/5.02 FIP and a 81 ERA+. He is coming off a solid start against Boston, though, in which he threw 5.2 scoreless innings while only allowing 3 hits (although he did walk 4) while striking out 7. It may help Brewers fans to think of Morgan as a Zach Davies type — a smaller right-hander that barely cracks 90 with his fastball but has a good changeup.

Saturday, 5:10 p.m. CDT - Corbin Burnes vs. Zach Plesac

Dan’s nephew has regressed a bit in his third big league season, giving up a career-high 20 home runs to this point, leading to a 4.53 ERA despite walking fewer batters and lowering his WHIP compared to career averages. He still has the raw talent to put together a dominant outing every now and then — like his 7 scoreless innings against the Royals on August 31 in which he only allowed 2 hits while striking out 7. But he’s also been inconsistent, with three separate outings of 6 earned runs allowed and two of 5 earned runs allowed. Plesac will throw his 93 mph fastball about 42% of the time, while mixing in his changeup and slider.

Sunday, 12:10 p.m. CDT - Brandon Woodruff vs. TBD

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Statcast