After being swept by the Dodgers, the Brewers next head to Arlington to face the Rangers. It’s another series against a division leader, this time against an even stronger offense. The Brewers division lead is down to two games, and they are trying to stay ahead while working through this stretch of tough opponents.
The Brewers are coming off of a rough series on offense, where they scored just three runs in three games. In the last two weeks, Mark Canha has stepped up to bolster the Brewers offense with a .270/.317/.432 batting line. Tyrone Taylor has also been playing well in the outfield. Sal Frelick’s batting average has slumped a bit, but is still getting on base at a good clip. Christian Yelich has also continued to keep the offense stabilized. There’s also several players struggling, specifically Carlos Santana and Willy Adames.
The Rangers offense is one of the strongest in all of MLB, arguably the second best in the league behind only the Braves. They have eight different batters with 10-plus home runs, and eight players with batting averages over .270. Adolis Garcia has the home run lead with 30, and Corey Seager has a .348/.411/.661 batting line. Marcus Semien has held the leadoff role all season and has the team’s highest fWAR at 5.0. Nathaniel Lowe also fits into the heart of the lineup, usually batting third or fourth. Jonah Heim has recently returned from the IL but Mitch Garver has played well, covering the catcher spot while Heim was out. They will split time at the catcher spot as Heim is still dealing with a wrist injury. One player the Brewers will not see this series is Josh Jung, who went on the IL on August 7 with a left thumb fracture and is out at least six weeks.
Friday, August 18 @ 7:10 p.m.: Brandon Woodruff vs. Andrew Heaney
After returning from the IL, Brandon Woodruff has picked back up right where he left off. In his two starts since returning, he’s pitched 11 1⁄3 innings and allowed just four runs, eight hits, and a walk. He’s also struck out 14 in those two games. The only point of concern is his home run rate, as he’s allowed three in those two games.
Andrew Heaney has made 23 starts this season, with a 4.17 ERA and 4.78 FIP. He’s bounced around between four different teams in the last three seasons. While his numbers have dropped from his time with the Dodgers last season, his strikeout rate is still close to his career average at 9.4 K/9. However, his walk rate has increased to 3.7 BB/9.
Saturday, August 19 @ 3:05 p.m.: Freddy Peralta vs. Dane Dunning
After a rough start to the season, Freddy Peralta has stepped up his game in his last several starts. He’s posted a quality start in five of his last six games, with three of those scoreless starts. He has also posted thirteen strikeouts in two of his last four games.
Dane Dunning started the season in the bullpen but moved to the starting rotation in May. He’s tied for the innings pitched lead on the team, with 18 starts and 26 total appearances. Overall, he has a 3.10 ERA and 3.93 FIP this season. His strikeout rate this season has dropped to 6.8 K/9, but he has posted double-digit strikeout games in two of his last three starts.
Sunday, August 20 @ 1:35 p.m.: Adrian Houser vs. Max Scherzer
Adrian Houser has helped keep the Brewers rotation stable throughout the season. He consistently gives the team five to six innings a start, though has allowed at least three runs in five of his last six starts. His strikeout rate (7.3 K/9) and walk rate (2.8 K/9) have seen improvements this season.
On the other side, the Brewers are facing Max Scherzer for the third time this season. It’s rare to see a non-divisional starting pitcher three times in a season. The Brewers have had some success against Scherzer this season. They faced him for the first time on April 4, scoring five runs off of him in 5 1⁄3 innings pitched. He was more successful the second time around, but the Brewers still scored two runs off of him in six innings. It’s definitely not the same Scherzer as in previous years, as he’s had a 3.67 ERA and 4.29 FIP this season. However, he still has a 10.4 K/9 this season.
The Brewers bullpen is in good shape heading into the Rangers series. Devin Williams will be well rested after not pitching against the Dodgers. Most of the bullpen didn’t pitch more than once in the series and should be available. While J.C. Mejia recently went on the IL, the core is still available.
The Rangers bullpen is led by a familiar face. Will Smith has taken the closer role this season, recording 22 saves with a 3.27 ERA and 3.12 FIP. Setting up for Smith is Aroldis Chapman, who was acquired from the Royals at the start of July. He’s had a bounce back season with a 2.45 ERA and a scorching 16.7 K/9 in 45 1⁄3 total innings. Also in the setup mix is Josh Sborz, who has a 3.94 ERA and 2.93 FIP in 45 2⁄3 innings this season. Chris Stratton was acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline and has a 1.74 ERA in his first 10 1⁄3 innings with the Rangers. Brock Burke (2.87 ERA) and Jose Leclerc (2.97 ERA) have also been in the bullpen mix.
This is a hard series for the Brewers, as they have to face another loaded lineup and strong pitching staff. This one is arguably as tough as the series against the Dodgers, if not tougher. I don’t think the Brewers will get swept again, but it’s going to be a rough time. The Rangers will likely take two of three in this series.