Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM
If you haven’t been following the Major League Baseball standings very closely in recent days, you might have missed out on this development. The Milwaukee Brewers are the best team in the National League!
They got hot over the past several days, just as the San Francisco Giants ran into a wall…allowing the Brew Crew to surge to the best record in the Senior Circuit. They are very likely to make the playoffs given how far they are above the rest of the field in the parity-racked National League. Maybe the St. Louis Cardinals can catch them from behind. But, the Brewers are WAY ahead of others in the Wildcard picture. For now, you need to assume that Milwaukee will be part of your postseason handicapping challenge.
And, they could well be facing the Washington Nationals this October, the betting favorite to win the NL East even if they’re currently in a very tight race with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. We previewed that Atlanta/Washington series last Thursday for you. Once again the Nats are getting showcase coverage during a tough schedule stretch.
Let’s see how this playoff preview might play out. Both teams are flying into town without a day off. Milwaukee spent the weekend at altitude in Colorado.
Washington: 4.05 runs per game, .315 on-base, .382 slugging
Milwaukee: 4.54 runs per game, .317 on-base, .419 slugging
Milwaukee currently ranks #2 in the National League in slugging percentage behind Colorado. But, Colorado plays half its games at altitude…which means the Brewers are the best bashers in the NL once you adjust for context. That’s what separates them from the Nationals offensively. Washington ranks #9 in slugging. If Milwaukee keeps up that pace, they are a lock to reach the playoffs.
Here’s a quick look at each night’s probable pitchers…
MONDAY’S PITCHERS (nationally televised by ESPN2)
Gio Gonzalez: 4.85 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 9.5 K-Rate
Matt Garza: 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.7 K-Rate
Gonzalez missed a month with an injury, then wasn’t sharp in his first start back vs. Houston. Supposedly the inflammation in his pitching shoulder is no longer an issue. So, you’d expect him to start trending to much better stats. Garza has been grinding along, but has thrown quality starts in six of last seven outings. The edge on the mound here will probably be based on the true health of Gonzalez.
Jordan Zimmerman: 2.95 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.6 K-Rate
Yovani Gallardo: 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate
Zimmerman has now allowed only THREE earned runs in his last 32 innings! He threw another gem vs. Atlanta but the Nats were shut out in his second straight outing. A crime that the team is 2-2 over those four pitching gems. Gallardo is on a nice run himself, allowing only two earned runs in his last 21 innings. Edge to Zimmerman.
WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS (day game)
Steven Strasburg: 3.24 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 10.9 K-Rate
Marco Estrada: 5.22 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.1 K-Rate
Every time we talk about Strasburg, we mention that he should have better stats than he does. Yet, he keeps getting hit, at least by his past standards. He allowed four earned runs to the Braves last week, including his eighth home run allowed of the season. The flamethrower should have a big edge here though Estrada has been a disaster, with an ERA of 7.22 over his last night starts. Milwaukee has some margin for error because of their offense and their lead in the standings. But, Estrada hasn’t been a major league caliber pitcher now for more than a month.
Fun challenge for handicappers…with the superior pitching of Washington facing the superior hitting of Milwaukee. Jim Hurley is likely to have at least one big play in this series between now and Wednesday afternoon. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office Sunday morning or weekdays during regular business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Don’t forget to ask about early-bird football rates when you call.
Baseball previews continue through the week. Here’s what’s on tap the next couple of days…
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Detroit at Texas
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…LA Dodgers at Kansas City
Thursday: MLB Series Preview…St. Louis at LA Dodgers
Friday: MLB Series Preview…Boston at the NY Yankees
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