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Series Preview: Brewers at Pirates

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Philadelphia Phillies v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This is probably the Pirates’ biggest series so far in 2017.

I’ve written that I don’t think this series will change the Pirates’ trade-deadline approach, but that’s more because I don’t think the Pirates will make extreme moves. In the standings, it could mean a lot.

I’ve been pretty down on the Pirates chances, honestly, and I still am. But, if you’re a fan, I suggest you get excited about this week. We may not have that many significant series like this. Starling Marte is coming back Tuesday. The Pirates have a crack at the Brewers. Relevant baseball events are happening, and it’s OK to enjoy them. Please do.

The Brewers are 9-3 in July and have won 11 of their last 14. They hold a 5 1/2-game lead on the second-place Cubs in the National League Central. They’re eight ahead of the Pirates. Milwaukee took two of three from the Phillies over the weekend, a 5-2 loss Sunday halting a four-game winning streak.

The Pirates (44-48) got two walk-off wins for a 2-1 weekend series victory over the Cardinals.

Season Series: 4-3 Pirates

At Pittsburgh

May 5: Pirates 4, Brewers 0

May 6: Pirates 2, Brewers 1, 10 innings

May 7: Brewers 6, Pirates 2

At Milwaukee

June 19: Pirates 8, Brewers 1

June 20: Pirates 7, Brewers 3

June 21: Brewers 4, Pirates 3

June 22: Brewers 4, Pirates 2

Schedule

Monday, 7:05 p.m. - Brent Suter (1-1, 2.96 ERA) vs. Chad Kuhl (3-6, 4.96), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.78) vs. Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.21), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. - Zach Davies (11-4, 5.08) vs. Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.35), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Thursday, 12:35 p.m. - Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.27) vs. Jameson Taillon (5-3, 3.06), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Brewers

52-42 (51-43 Pythag, 4.95 RS/G, 4.46 RA/G)

Offense

The Brewers have hit the second-most home runs in the Major Leagues (143) and scored the sixth-most runs (465). They already have six players with more than 10 homers: Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez and Ryan Braun. Thames has had his issues after an incredible start, but is at a solid .249/.376/.562 for the year, with 23 homers. Shaw (.295/.365/.570, 20 HR) leads this group in fWAR (2.8). Stephen Vogt has gone 7-for-26 (.269) with four homers since being claimed off waivers from the Athletics.

Pitching

This has been MLB’s ninth-best pitching staff by fWAR (9.8), buoyed by the starters (eighth, 7.7), with the bullpen (14th, 2.0) back towards the middle. Jimmy Nelson (9.88 K/9, 2.26 BB/9) and Chase Anderson (8.47 K/9, 2.69 BB/9) have been the team’s best starters. Nelson’s 3.27 ERA is very much in line with his 3.25 FIP; Anderson’s 2.89 ERA a little more fortunate with a 4.33 xFIP. Brent Suter (8.23 K/9, 2.63 BB/9, 27 1-3 IP, 10 games, 3 starts) is a 27-year-old rookie left-hander. Junior Guerra, who got an even later start, isn’t quite so hot (7.16 K/9, 5.69 BB/9, 5.99 xFIP) in his second MLB season. He’s set to come off the disabled list (right shin contusion) to make the start Tuesday. Corey Knebel (16.04 K/9, 5.28 BB/9, 1.62 ERA, 16 saves) was a deserving all-star; the strange thing was he was the Brewers’ only representative. Lefty Josh Hader, one of Milwaukee’s top prospects, has logged 13 innings in relief in the majors, with high strikeout and walk numbers.

Outlook

If anything, this series could really shape the way people view the rest of this season. Not the players themselves — they seem pretty confident. But the tone of the discourse for the internet-dwelling Pirates fan is at stake! Win it for us, boys!

Poll

Who wins the steel cage death match?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Pirates sweep!
    (56 votes)
  • 46%
    Pirates, 3-1
    (169 votes)
  • 29%
    2-2 split
    (105 votes)
  • 5%
    Brewers, 3-1
    (20 votes)
  • 2%
    Brewers sweep
    (10 votes)
360 votes total Vote Now