Series Preview: Border Battle Round Two
Image courtesy of © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsBrief Overview:
Milwaukee is 2.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. They’ve never been a juggernaut at any point this season, but they’ve remained close on the heels of both the North Siders and the St. Louis Cardinals. Christian Yelich is looking like a repeat MVP, and despite the negative run differential, Craig Counsell’s club continues to get the job done.
What They Do Well:
Milwaukee isn’t a top-third team in any category, but if there’s a notable area of success it’s in the best of their bullpen. This team has an offense that ranks 12th in baseball, and while the relievers trump that by just one position, it’s the back end of the unit that takes things up a notch.
At 10.02 K/9 only the Boston Red Sox strike out more batters out of the pen than the Brew Crew. Josh Hader owns the 5th best fWAR in baseball among relievers and his 16.59 K/9 is the best of any bullpen pitcher in the sport. The dominant lefty isn’t a command problem either with just 2.44 BB/9. If there’s a spot you may get him, it’s the 1.95 (11th worst) HR/9 among all relievers.
Although it’s Hader who bolsters the big K/9 mark out of Counsell’s pen, Freddy Peralta is another guy who can strike batters out at a high clip. He was a terrible starter this season, and still walks too many batters in relief, but if you don’t make him work there’s certainly an ability to blow it by you.
What They Do Not Do Well:
As one would expect with a team hovering around mediocrity, there isn’t an exceptional amount they do above average. The Brewers hover in that middle-ground virtually across the board. If there’s something to point out it’s that they do rank in the bottom-third of the sport when it comes to defense.
For everything that Lorenzo Cain and Yasmani Grandal give this club up the middle, rookie Keston Hiura does a decent job at giving it away. Hiura is a stud at the plate right now, but he’s well below average at second base and that’s a notable issue for their infield defense.
Much like the New York Mets before them, Milwaukee should give Minnesota opportunity when the ball is put in play before reaching the outfield grass.
Individuals Of Note:
Having briefly touched on both above, Hader and Hiura are two of the most impactful players on this club. The rookie second basemen owns a .955 OPS through 55 games, while Hader is as dominant in high-leverage as he’s ever been.
Yasmani Grandal looked like a steal this offseason and he’s certainly lived up to that billing. Playing as arguably the best defensive catcher in baseball, he sports an .837 OPS and is one homer shy of 20 on the season. Making his second All-Star Game this season, Grandal has been everything the Brewers could’ve hoped for and then some.
You can’t mention Milwaukee without touching on Christian Yelich. Having won his first MVP last season at age 26 with a 1.000 OPS, he’s followed it up in year two with The Crew by posting a 1.130 OPS. He’s already trumped the 2018 homer total with 39, and could challenge for 60 by season’s end. Stealing bases, hitting for average and power, while playing strong defense, he’s up there with Mike Trout as the best the game currently has to offer.
These two teams met in May at Target Field. Milwaukee took the first game by a one run margin before Minnesota answered back with a 5-3 victory of their own. Minnesota will be looking to win the season series again after going 1-5 against the Brewers last year.
The Twins come into this one having lost their last game and are an even .500 over the past ten games. Milwaukee matches that perfectly on a one game losing streak themselves, and .500 in their last 10.
Tuesday: Perez vs Anderson
Wednesday: Gibson vs TBD
This is certainly a team that the Minnesota Twins should be able to beat. A two-game series is just a quick getaway, but as part of a five-game road swing, a sweep would be a great way to start things off. Milwaukee owns a -20 run differential and likely has some more regressing to do. I don’t love how Martin Perez has pitched of late and that’s plenty of reason to be uncertain about game one. Anderson has a 2.63 ERA across his last nine starts and has put up a great year in 2019. If Minnesota can steal game one however, a sweep is definitely in the cards.