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Series preview: Milwaukee Brewers' no good, very bad season continues

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the Pirates kick off a three-game series against a Brewers team that has the worst record in the majors. Here's what to expect from their suddenly hapless divisional rivals.

POSITION PLAYERS: .233/.287/.381. 1.7 fWAR, 14th in the National League. Since the Bucs last faced the Brewers, Scooter Gennett has been demoted to Triple-A, with the Brewers lately turning to recent waiver claim Hernan Perez to start at second. Outfielder Khris Davis was hitting well in May before heading to the disabled list with a torn meniscus. Gerardo Parra has started in his place most of the time. Oh, and the Brewers replaced Ron Roenicke with Craig Counsell.

In happier news for the Brewers, Jonathan Lucroy is back in the lineup, and Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez have both hit brilliantly over the past month. So has Jean Segura, who returned to the lineup in late May after missing time with a broken finger.

PITCHING: 4.43 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 3.73 xFIP. 3.1 fWAR, 12th in the National League. Monday's starter (Jimmy Nelson) and Wednesday's (Kyle Lohse) will be familiar to Pirates fans. Nelson gave up seven runs against the Cardinals in his last start, and is having a decent but not great season since beginning it with two pretty good starts against the Bucs. His breaking pitches (he throws a slider but has become increasingly reliant on a curveball as well) have produced nice results this year. Lohse still has a 6.59 ERA despite decent strikeout and walk numbers. His last start against the Twins, in which he gave up five runs over six innings despite striking out four batters and walking none, is typical of the way his season has gone so far. He's never been a ground-ball guy, but his fly ball tendencies have caused him plenty of pain this year, as he's given up 14 homers in 68.1 innings.

On Tuesday, one of the Brewers' 2011 first-round draft picks, Taylor Jungmann, will make his big-league debut, with Wily Peralta out with a rib cage strain. I'm guessing this isn't exactly cause for celebration among Brewers fans, despite Jungmann's draft pedigree, since Jungmann has struggled with his control throughout his minor-league career and currently has a 6.37 ERA at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He does have ground balls working in his favor, with a ratio of 2.67 ground outs to air outs this season. Expect plenty of sinkers from him.

In the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez, Jeremy Jeffress and Michael Blazek are all in the midst of strong seasons. So is Will Smith, although he won't play this series as a serves a suspension for the use of a foreign substance. The bullpen also includes Corey Knebel, who has pitched well since joining the bullpen in mid-May. He was one of the Brewers' acquisitions on the Yovani Gallardo trade last winter. Another new name is that of David Goforth, a 26-year-old with an unimpressive minor-league track record who throws a fastball/slider combo.

OUTLOOK: The Brewers' disaster season continues -- they're 20-37 and already 18 games out in the NL Central. After the draft ends this week, they'll surely be focused on trading veterans, and what will matter most about the next month or so is who plays well enough to increase his value in a deal. So far, Gomez and Adam Lind look like the Brewers' best trade pieces. Their farm system is still a work in progress (although their top prospect, shortstop Orlando Arcia, has been great so far this season at Double-A Biloxi), so the Brewers' rebuild will likely take quite a while to complete.