The Milwaukee Brewers stagger into their three-game series at Busch Stadium having found the finish line of the NL Central title a bit farther than they expected. After trailing the Brewers for most of the race, the Cardinals have less sprinted by their foes and more simply kept running. Now Mike Matheny hopes to put impossible distance between his nine and Ron Roenicke’s.
The Cardinal manager reoriented his rotation to feature Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller. But the questionable health of John Lackey and Michael Wacha make the decision more of necessity than killer instinct. That trio will square off against Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers and Kyle Lohse.
The Brewers bring the league’s fourth-most potent offense, featuring a .317 wOBA. They pack a lot of punch, ranking second in the NL in ISO (.152) behind only the Rockies. Darkhorse MVP candidate catcher Jonathan Lucroy leads the lineup with a .372 wOBA, while Khris Davis, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Braun all boast ISO rates above .200. The Cardinal lineup has no one above a .200 ISO, but several players with above-average on-base rates: Jon Jay (.385 OBP), Matt Carpenter (.373), Matt Holliday (.372), Yadier Molina (.343) and Jhonny Peralta (.340).
What to watch for
- Matt Clark: The Brewers recently called up the journeyman first baseman who once hit 25 home runs in the Japanese League. The big lefty will likely start all three games against the Cardinal right-handed starters.
- Matt Holliday: The understated left fielder has quietly reached a season high in his slugging percentage, something that has been on the steady rise. Jhonny Peralta leads the club’s everyday players in WAR at 5.5, a tremendous accomplishment, to be sure. But Holliday has been the player whose hits have mattered the most: He leads the club with 3.96 Win Probability Added, currently 10th in the majors in WPA among hitters.
- Mike Fiers: It’ll be his first start since blasting Giancarlo Stanton (and Reed Johnson) last Thursday. (Future trivia players will note that Fiers did not record an official hit-by-pitch in the game.) Those high-and-tight pitches are part of the Brewer righty’s success — after all, he leads the team’s starters with a 25.3% K-BB% (the next-highest is Marco Estrada at 12.7%).
Around the horn
The Cardinals lead the majors in defensive runs saved with 59. They had -39 last year. They’re sixth in MLB in overall Defense (23.8)… The Brewers, despite the ham-handed Ryan Braun (-14.6), are still average (0.6, 16th)… Trevor Rosenthal has entered only 10 tie games of the 68 total games in which he has pitched … He has entered while trailing only twice… One batter that Rosenthal should probably not face with the game on the line is Braun, who is 4-for-5 with a home run against him.