The Milwaukee Brewers return home from starting the season with a six-game road trip. They will take on the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game weekend series. These games will, of course, be played without fans, but at least there is baseball in Milwaukee once again.
The Road Trip
The Brewers went 3-3 on their road trip, seeing mixed results from their offense but overall very good pitching from the rotation and bullpen. The trip ended on a high note behind the brilliant performance of Brandon Woodruff on Wednesday night. Woodruff and three relievers combined to throw a one-hitter against the Pirates, whose only hit came on a swinging bunt single early in the game.
Christian Yelich has begun the season in a slump, going just 1-25 for a measly .037 batting average. He has historically hit the Cardinals very well, especially at Miller Park, so there is hope that this will be the series in which he breaks out of his slump. Outfielders Ben Gamel and Lorenzo Cain have provided offense in the meantime, however, as both players have highlighted Brewers’ wins this past week.
In addition, Keston Hiura’s bat appears to have awoken and he has homered in each of his last two games. Short stop Orlando Arcia has begun the season where he left off last fall, and is hitting .357 to start the year. Eric Sogard, also, has been a solid contributor both on offense and defense. While his batting average is a low .188 at the moment, his on-base percentage is a whopping .435.
The Cardinals’ First Six Games
The St. Louis Cardinals are currently a half-game behind the Brewers in the NL Central Standings with a 2-3 record. Whereas the Brewers found themselves on the winning end of a 3-0 shutout on Wednesday night, the Cardinals were shutout 3-0 by the Minnesota Twins. The shutout loss was the third straight loss by the Cardinals.
The Cards began the season with two straight wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates. They won a close 5-4 game on opening day before a dominating 9-1 win on July 25. Since then, though, their bats have gone quiet and they have scored a combined four runs in their last three games. Undoubtedly, they will be looking to wake up their bats in hitter-friendly Miller Park where a number of Cardinal players have historically hit very well.
Looking Ahead for Milwaukee
Currently, the only starting pitcher the Brewers have announced for the weekend series is Brett Anderson, who will be making his season debut. He was originally slated to start game two against the Cubs last week, but was scratched with a blister. Only four current Cardinals batters have faced Anderson in their careers. Notably, Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .583 against Anderson in 12 career at bats with two home runs and five RBI. While the remaining starting pitchers are to be determined, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta are options for games two and three in this series.
As mentioned, Christian Yelich will be looking to break out of his six-game slump to start the season against a team he has hit very well against. Ryan Braun, too, has put up very good numbers against the Cardinals during his career. Braun has a .438 career average against Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals projected starter for game one, with three home runs.
The Cardinals will be sending three straight right-handed starters to the mound in the series. This means that the Brewers will be featuring a left-handed heavy batting lineup that has seen Sogard batting leadoff, followed by Yelich and Hiura at the top of the order. The Brewers will be hoping for more production from the first base position, which as not produced any real offense since a Justin Smoak home run in game two of the Cubs series.
Looking Ahead for St. Louis
The St. Louis Cardinals will start the series with Jack Flaherty taking the mound. Flaherty got the Cards’ Opening Day start, earning a win behind seven innings of two-run ball and six strike outs. Adam Wainwright will start game two for St. Louis. In his previous start, the 38-year old earned a win behind six innings of one-run ball and five strikeouts. Finally, the Cards will send Dakota Hudson to start game three. Hudson pitched just four and a third innings in his first start of the year, allowing four runs on seven hits against the Pirates.
As mentioned previously, the St. Louis bats have been rather quiet over their last three games and they have lost three in a row. If the Brewers can keep them quiet on offense, it will put St. Louis in an early hole in the division that will be difficult to overcome in such a short season.