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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers @ Atlanta Braves

The Brewers start their road trip with a familiar foe

Syndication: Journal Sentinel Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

If you are seeing the name of this article and are thinking to yourself “This series sure looks like a carbon copy of one the Brewers just played last weekend,” you would be pretty spot on. Last weekend, the Brewers welcomed the Atlanta Braves into Milwaukee for a three-game set. This weekend, the Braves return the favor, welcoming the NL Central-leading Brewers to Truist Park for another three-game series.

The Braves took two of three the last time these two saw each other, but both teams have gone in opposite directions since. The Brewers ended their homestand by taking two out of three against their closest NL Central rival, the Cincinnati Reds. Meanwhile, the Braves made their way out to Boston, where they were swept in a two-game set by the Red Sox. Still, the Braves hold a commanding lead in the National League. They enter this series not only with the best record in the NL, but all of Major League Baseball.

As you would expect and as the Brewers saw last weekend, the Braves lineup is stacked. Their eight All-Star selections tied a National League record for most representatives at the All-Star Game. It’s hard to just focus on a few standouts in their lineup, but Ronald Acuna Jr. has been their star for the last few years, and this year is no exception. The MVP candidate is batting .327 with 23 home runs and an OPS of .976. He has a WAR of 5.0, which is tied for the MLB lead.

Eight Braves enter the weekend with double-digit home runs, compared to five from the Brewers. While the Brewers don’t have a bat that has produced more than 20 home runs this year, the Braves have four. Matt Olson leads the team with 32 home runs over at first base. Their entire infield has double-digit home runs this season.

The Brewers will get some must-needed help on the offensive end, thanks to the addition of first baseman Carlos Santana, who they acquired in a trade via the Pirates. The former Silver Slugger is slashing .235/.321/.412 with 12 home runs this season. He is also a great fielder, bolstering an already elite-level defense in Milwaukee. The Brewers hope he can add to a lineup that lacks depth but has seen some of their top-end talent improve at the plate, namely Christian Yelich.

What has been described as a hot streak might just be the fact Yelich is back to being close to the player that won an MVP Award in 2018. Per Mike Vassallo, Yelich and Acuna Jr. are two of five players to have 15-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases so far in 2023 (Yelich is 15/22, while Acuna Jr. is 23/48). Yelich has steadily raised his average to .293 and is currently on an eight-game hit streak. He leads the team in hits (110), OBP (.379), RBI (58), and stolen bases (22).

Pitching Probables

Friday, July 28 @ 6:20 p.m.: Adrian Houser (3-2) vs. Yonny Chirinos (4-4)

Adrian Houser got the ball for the Brewers' lone win against the Braves last week, going six innings while allowing three earned runs on six hits. The Brewers have won four of the last five games that Houser has appeared in. He has a 3.86 ERA with 49 strikeouts so far in 2023.

The Braves claimed Chirinos off waivers on July 23 from the Tampa Bay Rays. He has appeared in 15 games but started just four of those games. He had a 4.04 ERA and a 4-4 record while with the Rays, and this will be his first appearance as a Brave.

Saturday, July 29 @ 6:20 p.m.: Julio Teheran (2-4) vs. Bryce Elder (7-2)

Teheran was hot when he joined the Brewers back in May, but has cooled off considerably since. He did have a strong start against his former team on Sunday, allowing only one earned run against these Braves in a 4-2 loss. Across Teheran’s 10 appearances this season, the Brewers are just 3-7. The problem lies in the run support, as they have only provided four-plus runs twice.

Elder is in his second year as a Brave and has put together a lovely season. He has 86 strikeouts so far, with a WHIP of 1.23. The right-hander has done a good job limiting the home run this year, giving up just 12 so far. Against the Brewers, he allowed two runs in a victory his last time out.

Sunday, July 30 @ 12:35 p.m.: Colin Rea (5-4) vs. TBD

Colin Rea has stepped in nicely while the Brewers wait for Brandon Woodruff to return to the rotation. Lately, he has limited opponents to three runs or less in four of his last five starts. As Woodruff nears his return to the rotation, it will be interesting to see what Rea’s role looks like down the stretch.

The Braves have not announced a starter for the final game of the series.