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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals

The Brewers are closing in on a playoff berth with the Nationals coming to town

MLB: Miami Marlins at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers added to their NL Central lead during the week, picking up 1 12 games over the Cubs with a 3-1 series while the Cubs went 1-2 against the Rockies. The Brewers have an opportunity to add to that lead further as they host the Nationals this week.

It’s been a rough season for Washington. Their 65-82 record is the second worst in the National League, and they still have seven games pending against the Braves. These teams met back at the end of July/beginning of August and the Nationals took two of three in Washington. The Nationals are looking to play spoiler as the season wraps up, though they only have this series and one in Baltimore to potentially do that.


The Nationals have taken some hard hits to their lineup. Victor Robles has been out with back spasms since June, and they lost Stone Garrett for the season with a fractured left fibula. They also lost Riley Adams recently to a fracture in his left wrist. In addition, they traded Jeimer Candelario at the trade deadline to the Cubs. Those four players each had an OPS+ above 100, and they only have two active players above that mark this season.

It’s been a young lineup for most of the season, with the average age of their roster at 26.9 years old (per Baseball-Reference) and only three batters over the age of 30. Their lineup has been led by CJ Abrams in the leadoff spot, who has good speed with 41 steals this season. At 22 years old, he’s in his second major league season and is just two home runs away from a 20 homer/40 steal season.

Lane Thomas holds the team lead in home runs with 24 and can get to a 20/20 season with just two more steals. Kelbert Ruiz has moved up to the third spot with a .256/.308/.409 batting line. Joey Meneses has slid down the order a bit amid some recent struggles, while Dominic Smith has been hot and has risen in the lineup.

The Brewers enter this series with a couple of players dealing with injuries. Christian Yelich has been out since Saturday with a back injury, though he has been working out and is expected to return any day now. Mark Canha left Tuesday’s game with a sore wrist. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday that showed no damage, and received a cortisone shot. He’s expected to pick up a bat again on Friday and doesn’t expect to be out long.

With Yelich and Canha day-to-day with injuries, Tyrone Taylor has stepped up big in the last week. In his last six games, he’s 10-for-24 with a home run and three doubles. Josh Donaldson has also added a spark to the team, going 4-for-13 with a home run, a double, and four walks in his first four games. Willy Adames has been racking up the extra bases with a home run, two triples, and three doubles in his last seven games.

The offense as a whole has had a good week, with the Brewers batting .278/.353/.403 as a team in their last seven games. They’ve scored 39 runs in those games as well, though they were shut out on Wednesday and scoreless through 10 innings on Sunday.

Probable Pitchers

Friday, September 15 @ 7:10 p.m.: Jake Irvin vs. Wade Miley

Jake Irvin is in his first season in the majors and has posted a 4.20 ERA and 5.12 FIP in 22 starts. He’s been prone to allowing home runs, allowing 18 in 113 23 innings this season. The Brewers faced him in their last series, scoring two runs in 5 13 innings on July 31.

Wade Miley made his return from the IL in the last series against the Nationals, where he pitched four innings and allowed one run as the Brewers limited him to 60 pitches. Since then, Miley has been alright, posting a 4.13 ERA in his last six starts but also a 6.61 FIP. In his last start against the Yankees, he only pitched 3 23 innings and allowed one run, though needed 84 pitches in those innings.

Saturday, September 16 @ 6:10 p.m.: Trevor Williams vs. Corbin Burnes

The Brewers missed Trevor Williams last time these two teams played, but he’ll get the start in the second game of this series. After signing with the Nationals as a free agent in the offseason, Williams started the season OK but has struggled since then, posting a 5.44 ERA and 6.06 FIP this season. He’s allowed at least five runs in five of his last seven starts, with starts of eight and six earned runs allowed in his last two starts.

On the other hand, run support has been the story of Corbin Burnes’ recent games, as the Brewers haven’t provided much. The Brewers lost two of his last five starts in 1-0 fashion. In his last start on Sunday, Burnes pitched eight no-hit innings and got no run support as the Brewers went on to lose in extras. The Brewers didn’t score in that game until the eleventh inning.

Sunday, September 17 @ 1:10 p.m.: Patrick Corbin vs. Brandon Woodruff

Patrick Corbin is in the fifth year of a six-year deal he signed with the Nationals and has also seen his share of struggles this season. He has a 5.13 ERA and 5.16 FIP as he leads the team with 165 innings pitched. His strikeout rate has declined year by year and is down to 6.5 K/9 this season, though his walk rate has stayed fairly consistent. The Brewers also missed him the first time these two teams played.

Brandon Woodruff has been a beast in two starts so far in September. Over those two starts, he’s not allowed any runs in sixteen combined innings of work while striking out thirteen. His last start was extremely good as he pitched a complete game shutout in the first game of the Marlins series.


Kyle Finnegan leads the Nationals bullpen with 61 games pitched and 25 saves this season. Hunter Harvey and Jordan Weems are also in the main mix, pitching 51 and 44 games, respectively. Harvey also has 10 saves as well as a 10.9 K/9 rate.

When it comes to the Brewers bullpen, good luck getting anything off of them. They did allow two runs in Wednesday’s game against the Marlins, but one of those was off of “reliever” (more accurately second inning starter) Colin Rea. Andrew Chafin was the only regular bullpen arm that allowed a run in the series.


While it’s tempting to predict a sweep, baseball has enough random variance that anything can happen. That being said, I’m not betting against either a motivated Burnes or a scorching hot Woodruff. If the Brewers win Friday, they sweep this series. If not, they’ll still get two of three.