It’s only been a week on the road, but it has felt like a lifetime for these 2023 Brewers. They left Milwaukee with a record of 18-10 while being winners of three of their last four. On the road, however, the team had a different story. They plummeted into a six-game losing streak, avoiding the 0-6 trip with a 7-3 win in San Francisco on Sunday.
Lucky for the Brewers, the whole NL Central decided this would be the perfect week to fall into a slump. In the first week of May, teams in the NL Central had a combined 7-23 record. May 3 and 4 saw zero wins from the division, and it wasn’t until May 6 that two teams won on the same day. With a Brewers win and another Pirates loss, the Brewers return to Milwaukee only a half-game out of first, while two games clear of the Cubs for third.
A major cause for concern has been their performance against left-handed pitching. Across 287 plate appearances, they are slashing .213/.279/.331, with an OPS of .610. In comparison, they are slashing .250/.330/.403 with an OPS of .733 against righties. Going into this series with the Dodgers, they are an even .500 (5-5) when a left-hander starts. Last year they finished the season 27-25 in games when a left starts, so this trend is nothing new to Brewers fans.
On the topic of left-handed pitching, the Dodgers bring in lefties with a proven track record of being good on the mound. On Wednesday, the Brewers are projected to face off against Clayton Kershaw. The 35-year-old left-hander has been a generational talent since his debut in 2008. Across 15 seasons with the Dodgers, Kershaw has three Cy Young Awards, nine All-Star appearances, led the NL in wins and strikeouts on three separate occasions, and led the NL in ERA five times. This season, he has a 5-2 record with a 2.53 ERA. With a WHIP of 0.98 and 48 strikeouts through the first month of the season, it will be a tall task to find a win against the dominant lefty.
The Dodgers have been one of the best teams in all of baseball in the last decade. With their lineup that resembles an All-Star team, they are again at the top of the NL West this early in the season. Although they still hold the top spot, they have lacked the dominance that has become their identity in the last few seasons. They are currently 15th in team ERA and 13th in WHIP. Where they have thrived is their ability to score runs. They are top five in runs scored, slugging, and home runs.
Leading the way is Max Muncy. Muncy leads the MLB with 12 home runs (if he hits one during Sunday Night Baseball, I apologize in advance), in addition to leading the team in RBIs (28) and OBP (.392). First baseman Freddy Freeman is also posting a very solid season up to this point, slashing .306/.379/493 with five home runs. Those two, along with noted star bowler, Mookie Betts, make up one of the best trios in the MLB.
Monday, May 8 @ 6:40 p.m.: Freddy Peralta (3-2) vs. Tony Gonsolin (0-0)
Right-hander Tony Gonsolin started the season on the IL with a left ankle sprain. He made his season debut on April 26 against the Pirates, going 3 1⁄3 innings and giving up two hits and zero runs. His only other appearance was last Monday vs. the Phillies, when he improved to 4 2⁄3 innings pitched but gave up three earned runs. When he is healthy, he is a winning machine. In 2022, he had a record of 16-1 with an ERA of 2.14, good enough to earn him an All-Star appearance.
Freddy Peralta returned to the spot of his historic Major League debut on Tuesday, but with different results. Despite 10 strikeouts, Peralta allowed the most home runs of his year (two), the most hits since April 15 (seven), and the most walks since April 9 (three). The Brewers are 3-3 in games started by Peralta in 2023.
Tuesday, May 9 @ 6:40 p.m.: Eric Lauer (3-3) vs. Noah Syndergaard (1-3)
Noah Syndergaard joined the Dodgers this offseason, signing a one-year contract in December. While an All-Star during his stint with the Mets, Syndergaard has struggled to regain the form that made him one of the most promising pitchers in baseball. In his first month as a Dodger, he has an ERA of 6.32 and a WHIP of 1.40.
Eric Lauer is coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in 2023. Despite recent struggles, Lauer has been solid in the rotation. He has a 4.40 ERA, but that may be skewed by the six runs he gave up against the Cardinals in just four innings on April 8. In his career, he is 7-1 with a 2.37 ERA against the Dodgers.
Wednesday, May 10 @ 12:40 p.m.: Wade Miley (3-1) vs. Clayton Kershaw (5-2)
I’ve already written about the dominance Clayton Kershaw has shown in his career early in this article, but one more thing about the 35-year-old lefty: he has a 6-5 record vs the Brewers. It’s not a winning record for the Brewers, but it sure is close, and that can be considered a victory when it comes to facing one of the best lefties to ever play.
Wade Miley continues to be a welcome presence in the back half of the rotation. Despite the loss, Miley gave up just three runs in six innings pitched his last time out. He has a 2.31 ERA entering Wednesday, and the Brewers have lost just twice when he starts.