After a successful road trip into Missouri, the Phillies will return home to take on another opponent from the middle of the country. Unfortunately, the Brewers appear a bit more imposing than the Royals since they employ one of the best players in baseball...as well as stupid Ryan Braun.
Record: 24-17, Second place in National League Central
After making the playoffs in 2018, the Brewers are attempting to qualify for the postseason for a second straight season, a feat they have accomplished once in franchise history. That shouldn’t be surprising since making the playoffs is generally something the Brewers do not do. In their 51 seasons, they’ve only qualified five times.
If the season ended today, the Brewers would be the National League’s top wild card team. But in a very competitive Central division, their status is far from secure.
Can’t Ryan Braun retire already?
Ryan Braun isn’t having the best season of his career (Understandable since those best seasons were helped along by some PEDs), but considering he’s spent most of his career punishing Phillies’ pitchers, I’m sure that his offensive numbers are going to look very solid once this week is over. His career OPS against the Phillies is 1.124 (1.252 at Citizens Bank Park).
Unfortunately, the Phillies haven’t gotten any better at getting him out in recent years. In the three games he played in Philadelphia last season, he went 6-12 with two home runs.
And then there’s Christian Yelich
Remember when Christian Yelich was a good, but not great outfielder for the Miami Marlins? I realize that the Marlins’ home ballpark (as well as the overall malaise of the franchise) sometimes suppresses their players numbers, but did anyone predict Yelich becoming the best player in the National League?
Yelich won the 2018 MVP award, and he looks to be in good position to go back-to-back. His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage have all increased this season, and he has a National League-leading 16 home runs.
Good old Gio
Speaking of players who join the Brewers and immediately experience a career upturn, Gio Gonzalez is now on Milwaukee’s roster. He’s made three starts so far and has pitched well (1.69 ERA), although he hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning.
After the Phillies traded him for (gulp) Freddy Garcia, Gio Gonzalez has spent most of his career pitching well against his former club. (He’s sort of the anti-Nick Pivetta.) In 2018, the Phillies finally had some success against him (5.40 ERA in three starts). Considering that he seems due for some regression soon, it wouldn’t shock me if the Phillies put up some crooked numbers against him.
The fall of Shaw
Travis Shaw was another example of the Brewers’ magic touch with newly acquired players. The Brewers traded for Shaw before the 2017 season, and he transformed into a legit power hitter, hitting over 30 home runs in his first two seasons with the Brewers.
Apparently the “Milwaukee Magic” doesn’t last forever. Shaw is only batting .168 with four home runs, and unless he goes on a big run soon, it seems doubtful that he’ll clear the 30 home run threshold for a third straight season.
Cain is unable
Another Brewer who hasn’t matched his 2018 numbers in Lorenzo Cain. After a spectacular season that saw him finish in the top ten of MVP voting, Cain’s batting average is only .245 and his on base percentage has dropped by almost .100 from last season.
Unfortunately, some of that slack has been picked up by Mike Moustakas. There was some sentiment that the Phillies should have signed Moustakas as a free agent this past offseason. He didn’t garner much attention, so the Brewers retained him on a modest contract. Of course that move is working out well for them. He’s slashing .257/.322/.529, numbers that are on par with his previous All-Star seasons.
Andrew McCutchen has plenty of experience playing against the Brewers from his days with the Pirates. He’s done a solid job of it, and his 32 home runs against Milwaukee are the most by any active player. As for his teammates, it will be tough for Rhys Hoskins to match that total in his career, but he’s off to a pretty good start with three homers in five games against the Brewers.
First game blues
The Phillies have made a bad habit of coming out flat in series openers. While it’s great that they’ve generally played well in all of the other games, it would be swell if they could avoid laying an egg in the opener this time around.
Braun will do his thing, but so will the Phillies. They’ll unfortunately drop the opener (again), but then rebound to win two of the next three.