With first place in the NL Central on the line once again, the (60-49) Milwaukee Brewers travel to Busch Stadium for a three game series against the (57-50) St. Louis Cardinals (8.15pm EST, Friday, August 1).
Entering the series, the Brewers currently hold a two-game divisional lead over both the Cardinals and the (57-50) Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Last Time We Met…
In mid-July in their final series before the All-Star break, the Cardinals traveled to Miller Park to take on the Brewers for the third time in the 2014 season. Prior to that meeting, the teams had drawn even, splitting the first six games at three apiece.
The Cardinals entered the series following three out of four wins against the Pirates and were slowly gaining traction in the division. The Brewers meanwhile were in a tailspin that saw them set their longest losing streak at home in nearly two years. Still, the Brewers had a slight lead on the NL Central due to their 20-8 start. By the end of the series, that lead was gone as the Cardinals had taken two of three.
Since then, neither team has been prolific post the break. The Brewers have built back a slight two game lead as a result of their 7-6 record while the Cardinals have had some struggles going just 5-6.
Game One Pitching Probables: (STL) Adam Wainwright vs (MIL) Wily Peralta
This one is lopsided. As good as Wily Peralta has been in his last three starts (1.37 ERA, .174 BAA), his regular season numbers don’t hold a candle to what Adam Wainwright has done all season.
Wainwright is a bona fide Cy Young candidate and even with LAD’s Clayton Kershaw pitching as well as he ever has, it should be said that Wainwright is the favorite to take home the top pitching honors. He is the NL’s first 13-game winner of the season, has held opponents scoreless in nearly half of his starts and has pitched at least seven innings in all but four of his starts. Additionally, Wainwright is second in the NL in IP, WHIP, W% and CG. His ERA, also second best in the league, is a paltry 1.92.
Peralta, while his numbers are not Wainwright-esque, has managed twelve wins on the season, which is second best in the NL. His 3.56 ERA is not desirable, however as I mentioned, his last three starts have been excellent. Peralta has given up just three runs in 19.2 innings in those three starts, all of which were at home and the first of which was against the Cardinals.
And perhaps that is the best thing that Peralta has going for him right now. In two starts against St. Louis, the Milwaukee righty has given up just one earned run and it was a solo HR. He has struck out eight and only walked one. He has given up just nine hits in 13.1 innings. It is important to mention though that both of these starts were at Miller Park where Peralta actually has a worse-ERA.
Despite Wainwright’s significantly higher 3.00 ERA at home, the edge still has to go to the St. Louis ace. He has been on an absolute tear all season and has failed to give up a run in three of his last five starts, including his most recent against the Chicago Cubs. Plus of the three Brewers that have significant at-bats against him, only Aramis Ramirez is hitting at a clip over .150.
Advantage: Cardinals and Wainwright
Game Two: (STL) Justin Masterson vs (MIL) Jimmy Nelson
While Justin Masterson, who was just acquired by St. Louis on Wednesday, is expected to get the ball for game two, it is uncertain if he will start as the announcement that he was placed on the 15-Day DL was made today. This could mean the Cardinals will move Lance Lynn up a day or they will promote someone from their minor league ranks. Either way, this game will be a battle of No.5 starters.
Masterson, if he pitches, has struggled this year with the Cleveland Indians. His 2014 season ERA is high at 5.51 and his WHIP is also high at 1.65. Since he has spent his entire career in the AL, Masterson has minimal experience facing Milwaukee’s hitters.
Jimmy Nelson, the starter for the Brewers, has really only had one bad start this season. Unfortunately, it came against the Cardinals. Nelson’s 3.40 ERA is inflated mostly because he gave up six runs in 4.1 innings against St. Louis. In his other three starts, the first year righty has given up just five runs and 14 hits in 18.2 innings. This one is a toss-up but the slight edge would have to go to Nelson and the Brewers.
Game Three: (STL) Lance Lynn vs (MIL) Kyle Lohse
It has been another successful season for Lance Lynn, whose ERA has ticked back below 3.00 on the year. Lynn has won 11 games, leads the Cardinals starting staff in strikeouts and has an ERA of 2.98. It has been his last three starts that have been particularly impressive as Lynn has yielded just four earned runs and has struck out 22 in 18.1 innings.
Kyle Lohse’s numbers are similar to Lynn’s in that they both have 11-5 records and their ERAs are within just 0.09 points of each other. Both have also been hot as of late with Lohse at a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings in his last three games. That said, Lohse has not been good at all against the Cardinals, his former team. Lohse’s 10 starts against St. Louis have seen him post a 4.04 ERA and .302 BAA.
Perhaps the best thing for Lohse is that a lot of the guys who used to burn him, Albert Pujols to name one, are no longer with the team. Of the current Cardinals on the roster, only three have 10 or more ABS against Lohse and of those three, only Jon Jay has an average above the .220 mark.
Still, I have to give the slight advantage to Lynn, who has pitched to a 2.72 ERA at home, where Sunday’s game will be.
Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals Betting Picks
I see this series going 2-1 in favor of the Cardinals but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Game one will be their best chance and best lock at a victory as Wainwright is on the mound but beyond that, games two and three are so close they really could be a toss-up. That said, the Cardinals have gotten a chance at first place only because of their pitching as their offense is ranked 29th in runs and 18th in batting average. It is hard to bet against that kind of pitching looking at the team’s offensive numbers and overall record. Clearly, those guys are doing something right.