The Brewers are looking to rebound from their first series loss as they continue their West Coast trip, but they have a formidable foe coming up in the San Diego Padres.
Padres’ owner Peter Seidler has made it clear that he wants to win a World Series now and has gone on a massive spending spree in recent years in an effort to reach that goal. In 2022, the Padres made it into the postseason as a Wild Card team and upset the Mets and Dodgers to make it to the National League Championship Series, where they fell to the Phillies.
The Padres’ lineup boasts some big names, including Juan Soto, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts, but is more suspect at other positions.
Machado, Bogaerts, Ha-Seong Kim, and Jake Cronenworth make for a strong infield, but the rest of the outfield outside of Soto is more of a question mark. Trent Grisham is an excellent defender in center field but has been inconsistent offensively. Former prospect José Azocar, who has yet to find much MLB success at the plate, starts in right field.
The Brewers lack the star players that the Padres feature and have uncertainty at more positions, yet they have out-performed San Diego at the plate in the early going this year. Milwaukee enters the series with a 106 wRC+ and the Padres at 99.
So far, the Brewers have gotten plenty of production out of rookies Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer, and Brice Turang. While it’s likely those young players will cool down and potentially hit some rough patches in the near future, the Brewers can expect improvement from players like Christian Yelich and Rowdy Tellez, who have struggled through the season’s first couple of weeks.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Thursday, April 13 @ 8:40 p.m.: TBD vs. Nick Martinez
The Brewers pushed their other starting pitchers back one day and, as of this writing, have yet to announce their starter for Thursday. Bryse Wilson, who has been working out of the bullpen as a long reliever, figures to be part of the plan in some capacity.
Martinez is fresh off signing a new three-year deal to remain in San Diego. He split the 2022 season between the rotation and the bullpen and had more success in the latter role, but he is getting another crack at being a starter this year. He carries underwhelming strikeout and walk rates, instead relying on multiple fastballs (sinker, cutter, four-seamer) to induce weak contact. Martinez has posted a 6.17 ERA and 5.89 FIP through two starts this year.
Friday, April 14 @ 8:40 p.m.: Freddy Peralta vs. Michael Wacha
Peralta is coming off an effective outing against the Cardinals on Sunday, firing six innings of one-run ball. His control has been suspect through two starts (six walks in 12 innings), but Peralta is healthy, and his stuff is as good as ever. Peralta is averaging a career-best 94.5 mph with his fastball and has added nearly five inches of lateral movement to his slider. He has pitched to a 0.75 ERA and 2.57 FIP thus far.
Wacha signed with the Padres after the start of spring training. He is coming off an effective season as a member of the Red Sox and has continued to throw the ball well through two starts with his new club, posting a 3.00 ERA and 3.49 FIP.
Saturday, April 15 @ 3:05 p.m.: Eric Lauer vs. Seth Lugo
Lauer is looking to bounce back from a rough showing against the Cardinals last Saturday when he coughed up six runs in four innings. His velocity has dipped to a concerning extent in his first two starts of the year, producing some of the lowest averages of his Brewers career.
Gus Varland is in for Eric Lauer, whose velocity was down again tonight. Here are the three lowest average four-seam velos of Lauer's Brewers tenure:— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) April 9, 2023
90.1 mph 4/2/23 at Cubs
90.5 mph 8/12/20 vs. Twins
90.8 mph tonight vs. Cards pic.twitter.com/PQ7dCm5gVe
Lugo just wrapped up a productive seven-year tenure with the Mets. He functioned primarily as a high-leverage reliever during that time, but the Padres are utilizing him as a full-time starter for the first time since 2017. His signature pitch is an elite curveball that leads all of baseball with an average spin rate of 3266 rpm. He has worked to a 1.38 ERA and 3.48 FIP in two starts.
Sunday, April 16 @ 3:10 p.m.: Wade Miley vs. Yu Darvish
It will be a matchup of crafty veterans in the series finale as Wade Miley starts opposite Yu Darvish.
Miley has picked up where he left off in his last Brewers tenure, offsetting shaky strikeout and walk rates with his ability to induce weak contact. Whereas Miley will come at hitters with his cutter and changeup combination, Darvish throws them the kitchen sink. According to Statcast, he has thrown seven different pitch types already this year.
Brewers relievers lead baseball with a combined 1.37 ERA, but some significant regression is on the horizon. Their 16.8% strikeout rate ranks last, and they have benefitted from an unsustainable .235 BABIP and 92.6% strand rate. The bullpen’s 3.99 FIP is 2.62 points higher than their ERA, representing the sport’s greatest overperformance. While some regression may be coming in the middle innings, the Brewers still boast a strong trio of Devin Williams, Matt Bush, and Peter Strzelecki in the late innings.
The Padres have a strong bullpen led by former Brewers closer Josh Hader, but injuries to setup men Robert Suarez and Drew Pomeranz have left them short in the late innings. They still have hard-throwing Luis Garcia and underrated middle reliever Nabil Crismatt on hand.
Having to rely on a bullpen that is due to regress and a version of Lauer with diminished stuff leaves the Brewers in a bit of a challenging position pitching-wise. I think it will be a closely-fought series but expect a two-two split in the four-game set.