The Milwaukee Brewers (32-45) travel to The Steel City to face the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates (48-30) for a three-game series. For the past countless number of seasons, the Brewers have beaten the Bucs to a pulp every chance they got, but that was when the Pirates were more embarrassing than Jennifer Lawrence’s fall at the Oscars. Now, the tables have been turned and it’s Milwaukee who is looking up at Pittsburgh.
Last week, I predicted the Brewers would win game one and then drop the next two against the Chicago Cubs. I was right. I even correctly guessed the score of game three. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.
Will I be smart enough again? Let’s find out. Here are my predictions for the Brewers versus Pirates series.
Fans are in for a real treat tonight. For the Crew, Johnny Hellweg, who was acquired in the trade that brought Jean Segura to Milwaukee, makes his first career major league start while the Pirates send out top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole, who has yet to disappoint.
Hellweg posted a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Nashville before being promoted on Wednesday. However, walks are Hellweg’s Achilles heel – he walked 44 batters in only 76 innings. Since he can expect to have some jitters in his first start, I won’t be surprised if Hellweg walks five or more.
Cole, a flame-throwing righty, has been impressive since being called up on June 8. While his strikeouts are down – only 3.93 K/9 – Cole has yet to lose a game. His best game came in his last start when he held the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to just two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings. He also struck out a career-high (5).
Milwaukee must be careful of Pedro Alvarez who has been absolutely lighting it up of late. In his last six games, Alvarez has launched four home runs, giving him 19 on the year. He’ll hit No. 20 tonight.
Neither team has ever faced the opposing pitcher so it’ll be interesting to see just how well the batters fare. Knowing Ron Roenicke, Hellweg will be on a short leash and will probably only go five innings. I think Cole will finally make it through seven innings and pick up the win.
Prediction: Pirates 5 Brewers 3
Donovan Hand is making only his second start of the season after spending most of the year in Triple-A and in the Brewers bullpen. In his first start, Hand went 4.2 innings and allowed no runs on two hits. He struck out three and walked one. I’m sure Hand will be on a strict pitch count so if he can make it through five, that’s a victory.
Francisco Liriano appears to have returned to his ace-like ways. In nine starts, Liriano has obliterated hitters while posting an astonishing 2.30 ERA. The lefty has already faced the Brewers once this season, beating the Crew while striking out seven. I see a similar ending this time around.
Carlos Gomez has had the most success against Liriano – he is 5-for-11 with two home runs. Luckily, Gomez, who sprained his shoulder making a leaping catch, will return to the lineup in Game 1.
Unfortunately and yet again, the Brewers will fall to the Pirates and lose another series.
Prediction: Pirates 7 Brewers 5
Since the beginning of June, Kyle Lohse has become more attractive to teams seeking a starting pitcher. Lohse is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA over his last five starts. Milwaukee would be smart to unload him and his hefty contract.
The Pirates are collectively hitting .381 with 32 home runs against Lohse. It could be a short outing for the 34-year-old.
Charlie Morton, who was recently activated off the 60-day DL, has settled in nicely for the Pirates and has yet to give up a home run. That streak should continue as Ryan Braun is the only current Brewer to homer off the right-hander.
Since it is hard to accomplish a sweep, I’m taking the Brewers in this game. I think it will be a bullpen game and Milwaukee’s pen is one of the best.
Prediction: Brewers 9 Pirates 6
-Rickie Weeks will homer
-Pedro Alvarez will go deep twice
-Benches will be warned
-The Brewers bunt nine times
It’s going to be another long series for the Brewers but I have some good news. As the trade deadline approaches, more rumors will start swirling – and there will plenty of Brewers rumors. Look for Milwaukee to clean house and start building for the future.
How do you think the Brewers will do? Let us know!