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Ryan Braun is a Saint: Phillies vs. Brewers Series Preview

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MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

For the second weekend in a row, the Phillies will take on the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series. But this time, the action will take place at Milwaukee’s Miller Field. Will playing the games in a different stadium provide a different result?

The Last Time They Met

Someone with a negative outlook would point out that the Phillies lost the first two games of the series and surrendered 12 runs in each game. But why focus on the negative? Instead, let’s concentrate on the fact that the Phillies were able to salvage the finale thanks to a strong start by Zach Eflin.

Did that win put a seed of doubt in the Brewers’ minds? Did it make them wonder if - the two previous wins notwithstanding - they weren’t capable of ever defeating the Phillies again? I’m going to subscribe to that theory.

And Since Then?

The Brewers solidified their hold on first place in the National League Central by taking two out of three against the Chicago Cubs. As I mentioned the last time I discussed the Brewers, based on their historical track record, they probably shouldn’t get too comfortable there.

I think it bears mentioning that in the 50 years of existence, the Brewers have made the playoffs four times. Four! I realize that the Phillies haven’t been a model of success throughout their existence, but 4/50 is really bad.

I’d also like to again mention that one of those four trips to the postseason was ended by the Phillies. Here’s a fun clip from that series:

Phillies Pitching vs. Brewers Offense

Based on the starting pitchers the Phillies have lined up for this series, it seems doubtful that the Brewers will score 12 runs in any of the games. They might be fortunate to score 12 runs in the entire series.

Friday’s starter is Jake Arrieta who is likely looking for some revenge after a relatively poor outing last weekend. He didn’t pitch horribly - shoddy relief work by Luis Garcia made his line look much worse than it should have - but it was still far from his best effort. Arrieta has great career numbers at Miller Park. He’s 2-0 with a 2.03 in five career starts there.

Zach Eflin gets the ball on Saturday, and he’s been very solid in the month of June. The Brewers are probably still shaking their heads after striking out nine times last week. Finally, if the Brewers haven’t been traumatized enough by the first two games of the series, all they have to do is find a way to beat Aaron Nola on Sunday. They haven’t had much success with that in the past. Nola is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA against them in four career starts.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies
Aaron Nola has owned the Brewers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Do the Brewers have any hope of scoring runs? Well, they do have Ryan Braun who for some reason has decided that his goal in life is to punish Phillies pitchers. You’d think that the Phillies would be able to slow him down at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Let’s work on the assumption that they’ll be able to get Braun out at least a few times. Is there anyone else on the Brewers worth worrying about? I suppose that guys like Christian Yelich, Travis Shaw, and Lorenzo Cain can also do some damage. But the key is to keep the Brewers inside the park. Their total of 84 home runs is second in the National League, so it would behoove the Phillies to make them go one base at a time.

Fortunately, the Phillies won’t have to worry about Ji-Man Choi anymore. The Brewers unwisely traded him this week, and it’s unclear if they’ll be able to sustain a workable offense without him.

Brewers Pitching vs. Phillies Offense

The Brewers won’t be throwing their best arms at the Phillies this weekend. Sure, Brent Suter earned a win against them last time, but most pitchers can earn a win when their offense scores 12 runs.

You know what else happened last time Suter pitched?

Junior Guerra is a solid enough pitcher...or at least he’s solid enough for the five or six innings he lasts in the game. He hasn’t pitched more than six innings in any of his starts. He also hasn’t pitched well against the Phillies in his career, recording a 7.20 ERA in three starts.

Chase Anderson is coming off his best start of the season, in which he held the Cubs scoreless over seven innings. If his 4.13 ERA (and 5.46 FIP) is any indication, that performance isn’t representative of what he usually brings. In other words, he’s probably due for a clunker.

The Phillies’ offense hasn’t been giving anyone too hard of a time this month, but there were some encouraging signs on Thursday. Both Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins had good games, and if both of those men could get hot at the same time, all of a sudden, the Phillies will have a very dangerous middle of the order.

A Little Bit About Milwaukee

I traveled to Milwaukee a few years ago. I was expecting frigid temperatures and lots of fat guys wearing Brett Favre jerseys. To my surprise, the temperature was over 100 degrees, and while there were some obese people about, none of them were dressed in #4 Packers jerseys.

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As for this weekend, temperatures are expected to be in the 80’s on Friday and Saturday, before reaching a balmy 92 degrees on Sunday afternoon. So if anyone is headed to Miller Park to catch a game in person, you probably want to dress lightly.

Boo This Man

I assure you that I have nothing but positive things to say about Ryan Braun. He is above reproach, and I fully believe that his PED suspension was nothing but a conspiracy against him. Now could you please ease up on Phillies pitching, Ryan?

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Philadelphia Phillies
Ryan Braun has had some success against the Phillies
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, let’s hope for the worst for Jonathan Villar. The former Phillies farmhand was traded away in the Roy Oswalt trade, and it’s always a bad look when a former prospect experiences success.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, and J.A. Happ are the three Phillies pitchers to throw complete game shutouts against the Rockies.

Today’s question: Who is the Phillies’ all-time leader in hits at Miller Park?

Prediction

The Brewers may be having a good season, but the Phillies have the advantage in the starting pitching matchups. Plus, I believe that the offense is getting ready to start producing again. Perhaps I’m incapable of predicting any other outcome, but I’ll say the Phils take two out of three.